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VMware Releases Open Source Virtualization Client 218

Posted by kdawson
from the not-before-time dept.
ruphus13 writes in with the news that VMware has finally decided to open-source its client for virtual desktops, releasing it under the LGPL. This was in response to intense pressure from the growing number of Linux distros that include virtualization by default. From the post: "The CEO replacement who entered VMware last year was Paul Maritz, a long-time Microsoft executive with intimate familiarity with how Windows swallowed up entire categories of utility software as it grew up by simply wrapping free utilities into the operating system. Paul knows about that, and he had to have seen last year the dual threats to VMware of open source virtualization offerings and virtualization on board in operating systems. The VMware View Open Client allows businesses to host virtualized desktops in the data center, and users can access their desktops from any device. Going with an open source solution like this was VMware's only choice, especially as Microsoft includes Hyper-V virtualization in Windows Server. I'm sure Maritz was very focused on the Microsoft threat, because he used to be behind similar threats. VMware can grab market share with this move, stave off Microsoft's dominance, and offer support and services around its open source offering.'"
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VMware Releases Open Source Virtualization Client

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  • Thanks... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BlackPignouf (1017012)

    Thanks, but I'm more than happy with VirtualBox, either open or closed source. Much faster & easier to install on my ubuntu boxes!

    • Re:Thanks... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @09:13AM (#26723675)

      VirtualBox and its ilk are competitors to VMware Workstation. When it comes to the datacenter, nothing comes close to their enterprise offerings.

    • unfortunately it is still rather buggy, tho since its open source it might get these issues fixed sooner or later

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Guspaz (556486)

        I agree that it needs a lot of work, but it's also improving at a pretty decent clip. I tried it when I ran Ubuntu 8.04, and had a nightmare with the networking. By Ubuntu 8.10, the included version made networking a snap, making it easy to use host networking to simulate a device on my network.

        Another roadblock that was fixed in those 6-months; the older version couldn't boot Ubuntu Server (I believe it was a matter of VirtualBox not supporting PXE), while the newer version can.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Somewhat. I find that in 2.x on a Linux host with an XP guest, sometimes the VM gets stuck and hangs, making you have to kill it. If this happens, not all of the memory allocated to the VM will get reclaimed, which is highly annoying.

        Only seems to happen, for me anyway, with XP guests. Linux guests and Win2K guests don't seem to have this problem.

    • Re:Thanks... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @09:24AM (#26723751)

      this is no VirtualBox competitor, it's a whole different product. it's the client for the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure.

      • Re:Thanks... (Score:5, Informative)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @09:43AM (#26723921) Journal
        Mod parent up. This product is pretty much VMware's equivalent of the Citrix ICA client, not one of their virtualization setups. Looks like a shot across Citrix's bow to me. By releasing the client as LGPL, they can, in theory, ensure that it will be trivial for anybody putting together a linux distro or thin client image to include support for connecting to their VMware view stuff(which is, shall we say, unlikely to be OSS soon).
        • by powerlord (28156)

          By releasing the client as LGPL, they can, in theory, ensure that it will be trivial for anybody putting together a linux distro or thin client image to include support for connecting to their VMware view stuff(which is, shall we say, unlikely to be OSS soon).

          Since they've released the code as LGPL, could someone modify Xen to support the same communication protocol? (or is there a piece I'm missing?) THAT would certainly be OSS.

        • by arkhan_jg (618674)

          It's a bit like Citrix ICA, but it's designed to hook onto a full virtualised desktop on the backend. You don't just get a thin-client desktop to play with, you get an entire hosted virtual PC all to yourself. Obviously the hardware load on your infrastructure + ESX servers is that much more than terminal server/citrix, and it's still a very new product. As you say, the enterprise backend is pretty expensive, while the client can now be stuck in anything and everything, including thin terminals.

          VDI (virtual

  • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @09:17AM (#26723697) Homepage

    A popular way of distributing software - especially for people to try it out - is as a complete Linux distribution disk image that you can run with the VMWare Player. Is that program also going to become free? (If not, I guess it should be replaced with VirtualBox, but VirtualBox doesn't seem quite as polished.)

    As far as I can tell this is just a client application connecting to the VMWare View server, which is some kind of Citrix-like remote desktop server and remains proprietary. So no big deal, it appears.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by joemod (1068624)
      VMWare Player is already free but not opensource.
      • by MBGMorden (803437) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @10:10AM (#26724133)

        Not only that, but VMWare Server (which uses the same "format" of vm) is also free. Their recent move to web-only admin tools has gotten annoying, but overall it's still very nice and lets you manage things much more in depth than VMWare Player does.

        • VMWare Server is great if you don't mind the bloat of the new version. I gave up on using it on my laptop to work with images on the go because it was such a resource hog. I could install one of the older versions, but all my VMs are configured for "v7" on VMware server and will no longer load properly in VMware server 1.x. Now I work on images using Sun VirtualBox and create and run images on a server running VMware Server.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by pedrop357 (681672)

          As of the latest version, VMWare Server still (quietly) comes with the Virtual Infrastructure Client.
          For windows installs, it's here:
          C:\program files\VMware\VMware Server\hostd\docroot\client\VMware-viclient.exe

          In the field "IP Address/Name", use https://name/ [name] or IP%:8333
          You need the VMware authorization and VMware Host Agent service running, but can disable the VMware Server Web Access service if you don't use the web interface.

          I do wish they would update the viclient to use later hardware versions. As is

        • by raddan (519638)
          I downloaded and installed VMWare Server on Ubuntu 8.10. No problems there. I appear to be able to start it and use the web interface. My problem is-- how the heck do you use the thing? I can create a VM and start it, but then I see nothing. Doesn't seem to matter if I tell it to boot from a real CD or an ISO. I get nothing.

          It's entirely possible that I'm missing something obvious... Any idea what could be going wrong?
          • by MBGMorden (803437)

            You need to co to the "Console" option and bring up the screen in a seperate window so you can actually see what's going on. It's an awefully slow way to use a system though, so for Linux VM's you want to get to a point where you can use either SSH or X11 to connect remotely ASAP, or on a Windows VM you'll want to switch to RDP. Once they make it to that point you just use them just like any other remote system that you would have hidden in a server room somewhere :) (and actually, most of my VM's are li

  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @09:19AM (#26723713) Homepage

    VMWare's Workstation and advanced server products are expensive and companies have been buying them for quite some time as part of their infrastructure. Asking these customers to believe that "free" stuff is greater-than-or-equal-to what they have been spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on is like asking Christians to consider the notion that there is no god. They simply can't go there mentally.

    There is value perceived in spending lots of money on something. Take diamonds for example. They are NOT by any means "rare." Their beauty is debatable. But people perceive their artificially high prices as value even when faced with the fact that diamond "resale value" is nearly nothing by comparison. Some people think spending more money on things make them more worth while, more valuable, more elite. Starbucks built a nationwide chain on the idea. Clothing stores have been exploiting this perception for more than 100 years in the U.S.

    And then there are the commercial software vendors...

    • by OnlineAlias (828288) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @10:31AM (#26724345)

      You discount the fact that really big implementations nearly require VMware to work by simple virtue of the maturity of the product. By really big, I mean 1000 to 3000 guest servers and 10's of thousands of desktops. You think enterprise managers are going to go with Xen or Virtual box in these scenarios? Not a freaking chance. The marginal cost of the software is a pittance compared to the losses incurred when the project fails or even worse, when it sputters for a long time and then dies.

      Here are some numbers.

      VMware enterprise licensing and support= 2 mil.
      Server hardware, infrastructure and storage= 4 mil
      Professional services = 2 mil.
      Overall savings to organization in in heating cooling, data center, backups, personnel and equipment refresh over 5 years= 10 mil.

      Savings doing it with some other software= 500 grand (no one cares).
      Failed project = -16 mil.

      Comparing VMware to Starbucks as a luxury boutique product is nonsense. It is the only one that can and has actually delivered an enterprise capability.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TooMuchToDo (882796)
        Amazon trusts Xen to drive it's entire EC2 cloud computing infrastructure. Which, may I add, also drive's Amazon's entire online retailing business. I'm sure it's ready for enterprise scenarios.
    • by spikenerd (642677)
      True, but perceived value is not real value. Companies that sell perceived value will only make money in the short run. It looks like VMWare is willing to throw away something with short-term value to rub out some competition. That's something that can give long-term benefit to a company. This world has too many companies trying to sell perceived value already. I wouldn't diss VMWare for making a move away from there.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by setnaffa (718589)
      Erroneus needs to read up on TCO. Businesses live by evaluating ALL costs. Direct acquisition costs are only a small part of that. Support costs for open source ARE more expensive than for major vendors who supply training and other support. Just because something costs more to buy does not mean it costs less to operate. Windows-based sysadmins are easier to find than those who claim to know Linux... Supply and demand... Trust me or not. Your choice. The attacks on US-based Capitalism are totally n
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @09:23AM (#26723745)

    Great, now let's have a GUI for Virtualcenter/ESX that doesn't require Windows.

    • by LittleLebowskiUrbanA (619114) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @10:09AM (#26724131) Homepage Journal

      Agreed. Even a web client. How hard is that, VMware?

          What company builds their product on top of Linux and then builds a GUI client that only runs on Winders?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Alex Belits (437) *

        What company builds their product on top of Linux and then builds a GUI client that only runs on Winders?

        Citrix.

    • by tweek (18111)

      Here here. It's sad that I have to have a VM of windows running to communicate with a Virtualcenter server hosting Linux VMs.

      Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Here here.

        Where? Where?

        Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

        Papa Echo Bravo Charlie Alpha Kilo.

      • by powerlord (28156)

        Here here. It's sad that I have to have a VM of windows running to communicate with a Virtualcenter server hosting Linux VMs.

        Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

        Quebec Foxtrot Tango.

        (doing the same thing myself)

  • Too late (Score:3, Informative)

    by MistrBlank (1183469) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @09:25AM (#26723757)

    I jumped ship to VirtualBox at the end of last year after being a long time VMWare Server user.

    Server's switch to a terrible UI on version 2.0 and the fact that they continue to charge for VMWare fusion made me look for alternatives.

    VMWare still has the best enterprise virtualization management products though in the meantime so I'm not terribly worried about them making a vanishing act.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      VMware basically ruined whatever marketing value the zero cost VMware Server gambit provided. For those who aren't familiar with the drama:

      VMware Server 1.x contains a straightforward native client that works efficiently as a console for virtual machines. It's the same basic client VMware has used for the last decade or so across the produce line. It isn't perfect, but it is very usable, stable, etc.

      With the 2.x release they eliminated this client and replaced it with an enormous Tomcat+Java+Browser plug

      • Yup, some things are better *without* a web browser interface.
      • by ericrost (1049312)

        You can still download and install 1.x. I do. I use it because I can do a headless desktop install accessed only through the client and run an autologin gnome session to run azureus plus plugins. Still haven't found a server side solution that meets my needs without a lot of scripting which I don't have time to do.

    • Yeah I tried to do a little project a year or so ago using VMWARE and it just wouldn't seem to do what I wanted. I looked for help on the net and along the way someone suggested VirtualBox. I wasn't getting any answers that helped with VMWARE so I tried VBox and it did the trick. Not as polished a product at the time but it did the job for me.
    • I jumped ship to VirtualBox at the end of last year after being a long time VMWare Server user.

      Server's switch to a terrible UI on version 2.0 and the fact that they continue to charge for VMWare fusion made me look for alternatives.

      Mod parent up! VMware Server 2.0 with its vast bulk, instability, and ghastly browser based UI SUCKS DONKEY BALLS! I would have stayed with Server 1.0, but it won't install on any recent kernel.

      They "fixed" what wasn't busted. Symptomatic of a company whose overall direction is getting close to death throes stage.

  • VMware View Open Client lets you connect from a Linux desktop to remote Windows desktops managed by VMware View.

    http://store.vmware.com/servlet/ControllerServlet?Action=DisplayPage&Env=BASE&Locale=en_US&SiteID=vmware&id=ProductDetailsPage&productID=94648100 [vmware.com]

    VMware View Enterprise Starter Bundle + Platinum (24x7) 3 Year Support

    Including View Mgr 3, VC Foundation and VI VDI licensed for 10 desktop VMs (Includes 1 ESX license for 2 CPUs)
    $2,456.25

    VMware View Enter

  • Games? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by chill (34294) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @09:38AM (#26723881) Journal

    The only reason I have a Windows image at home is for a couple of games. So far, only VMWare Workstation can handle Windows gaming with any decent speed since it supports DirectX. Do any of the other virtualizers work well with gaming? I'm talking about games like COD4, America's Army, and others based on the UT2/UT3 engine.

    • Re:Games? (Score:4, Informative)

      by syousef (465911) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @10:07AM (#26724111) Journal

      The only reason I have a Windows image at home is for a couple of games. So far, only VMWare Workstation can handle Windows gaming with any decent speed since it supports DirectX. Do any of the other virtualizers work well with gaming? I'm talking about games like COD4, America's Army, and others based on the UT2/UT3 engine.

      It most certainly doesn't handle games with decent speed. Lets look at the game compability list, updated this month:

      http://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-1287 [vmware.com]

      Now lets look at your games:

      COD4 - "Starts up fine, but too slow to play. Frame rate is about 2 FPS at 640x480 with all settings reduced to minimum. VM settings - 1.5GB ram, 2 VCPU's, optimize for VM."

      America's Army - Not on the list

      UT2/UT3 - Not on the list. Not sure which games on the list might be derivatives

      Other complaints even for games reported to work are "choppy sound, minor texture glitches", "Sluggish, but playable.", "Flawless; low FPS", "Flickery top bar and "Sticky" graphics"

      This does not sound to me like something a frequent gamer would put up with, when dual booting would give much better results.

      VMWare is to be applauded for their DirectX effort, but they're not quite there yet.

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        I believe that americas army and ut2 are available natively for linux and mac anyway, and therefore don't need to be used under vmware...

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by chill (34294)

          America's Army for Linux/Mac is 2.5 (4 or 5 version behind), and has ceased to be supported. There are very, very few servers to play on. There are rumors the new 3.0 client will be back for Linux, but I'll believe it when I see it.

          By UT2 I meant UT2-engine based games. Sorry for not being clear.

  • I don't get it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @09:50AM (#26723973)
    VMware has too many products. I don't understand the difference between:
    • VMware Fusion
    • VMware server
    • VMware workstation
    • VMware view
    • VMware ESX
    • VMware Player
    • VMware ACE

    Is VMware viewer this product http://store.vmware.com/servlet/ControllerServlet?Action=DisplayPage&Env=BASE&Locale=en_US&SiteID=vmware&id=ProductDetailsPage&productID=94648100 [vmware.com] ? If so, what does it exactly do for me? Can I create virtual machines? Can I open .vm machines? Can I connect to some remote server hosting and running the machines, like a VNC?

    Thanks,
    ~T~

    • It is a replacement for rdesktop and RDP on Windows. Why? I cannot fathom why. It makes no sense really.
      • by redxxx (1194349)

        Rdesktop is actually a dependency for VMware View Open Client. install instructions [google.com]

        They aren't reinventing the wheel or anything. They are just strapping some stuff onto to make it easier to use and a little more functional and using a different protocol.

    • by BlackPignouf (1017012) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @10:39AM (#26724437)

      Easy :
              * VMware Fusion is for Windows Vista Starter
              * VMware server is for Windows Vista Home Basic
              * VMware workstation is for Windows Vista Premium
              * VMware view is for Windows Vista Business
              * VMware ESX is for Windows Vista Enterprise
              * VMware Player is for Windows Vista Ultimate
              * VMware ACE is for Windows 7

      I think...

    • Actually, this is a pretty good post. Unfortunately by posting anonymously, you've managed to get some useless responses to what appears to good, serious question.

      Wikipedia has some good explanations of various VMware products and some differences between them. Some of them have more functionality than others. The free ones always do less than the pay versions, although what the free ones can do may be enough for some people.

      Our VMware expert told me that at his previous job one of the VMware pr
    • by Locutus (9039)

      * VMware Fusion
      Seems to be a client which includes Unity which is a way to integrate individual apps in the virtual machine with you desktop apps. IIRC it's for Mac,Linux, and Windows

      * VMware server
      Free server verstion and multi VMs at one time. For Linux and Windows( maybe Mac )

      * VMware workstation
      Non-free desktop product. For Linux and Windows( maybe Mac )

      * VMware view
      Client application which connects to a virtual machine on a server and displays that virtual machines display. VMware has been changing the

    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Informative)

      by arkhan_jg (618674) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @02:14PM (#26727629)

      * VMware Fusion - desktop virtualization on macs, also allows you to run individual windows apps but they appear as a window on your OSX desktop. Not free.

      * VMware server - free virtual server hosting setup. Fairly basic, but allows you to run multiple OSes on a single physical server and linux or windows host OS, and have them provide services on the network - or RDP/VNC into them and use them for testing, etc.

      * VMware workstation - similar to vmware fusion, but for linux/windows, and without the 'open an app as a native window' feature. Not free. Designed to create and snapshot multiple vms on your own desktop.

      * VMware view - virtual desktops. You give your users their own personal desktop image, but it's stored on your ESX servers, not their local hard-drive. A bit like thin clients, but you virtualise the entire pc, not just the desktop. they break it with a virus? Spin them a new one off the spare pool, or bring their old one back from backup snapshot. Or just have a standard pool, and hand them out automatically as needed. Vmware view is the clientside app that lets them connect to their virtual desktop, but since all the virtualisation work is done serverside, the client can be low-power.

      * VMware ESX - enterprise grade virtualisation server. Combined with vmware infrastructure, you run a bare minimum hypervisor (no overhead from a standard linux or windows OS host), store your virtual machines on a SAN or NFS, have a pool of physical servers and automatically load-balance your VMs between them or even bring them back up automatically if a physical server goes bang. Nearly completely abstract your servers from the hardware, run 20 servers per actual piece of tin. Very much not free.

      * VMware Player - free basic app that lets you run VMs on your desktop, but not create them. Largely superceded by vmware server (now free) except for specific uses.

      * VMware ACE - packaged VMs. You create a VM with workstation, send it out, then they run the ACE package on their local PC, with a VM OS + app setup inside it. Allows you to have a standardised VM available on your desktop machines, without all the overhead of ESX, SAN, network etc, but your desktops need to be grunty.

      • by arkhan_jg (618674)

        Oh, I did forget one.

        Vmware ESXi - free, cut down version of ESX, very new. bare-metal hypervisor (so you need to dedicate an entire physical server to it), and you manage it much like ESX, though you need to pay to combine multiple ESXi servers together under one management screen. Rather similar in principle to vmware server; depends whether you want the host OS to also do other things, or just give the entire box over to ESXi (which is quicker and more robust)

  • by Comatose51 (687974) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @09:59AM (#26724041) Homepage

    VMware might not be a completely open source company but they've always been friendly towards open source software and make use of them. They've also contributed back as well such as extensions to the Linux kernel to make it run better as a guest in a paravirtualization environment, even though VMware can work using binary translation. They've also pushed heavily for an open VM format (OVF) so that users won't be locked into any specific virtualization vendor even though they're the dominant player in the market. They don't really see it as a zero-sum game. As long as virtualization as a whole keeps expanding, they benefit from it.

    They also created and open sourced Review Board. [review-board.org]

    VMware is very engineer driven and engineers have a tendency to favor openness.

  • It appears that (VMView) this is a client to connect to a virtualized machine (desktop) much in the same manner as the Citrix ICA client, but specifically for Linux.

    The VMware Virtual Desktop Initiative (VDI) seems to have been renamed VMware View: Formerly, you had to use a paid for client (Citrix licensed?) to reach a hosted workstation. Your options were (correct in response please) use RDP clients (bad for sound), a Citrix-involved client (cost, but you can get video), or the VMware Infrastructure Cons

  • R U kidding? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hesaigo999ca (786966) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @11:07AM (#26724881) Homepage Journal

    > stave off Microsoft's dominance...
    I am sorry, everyone knows VMWare had dominance, and never lost it for visualization.
    M$ had to buy VirtualPC to compete, and even then could not make it work all that great.
    They now improved on the technology with HyperVM, but have yet to transfer any client base from VMWare's list of clients, and therefor still have not come close to dominance.

    I hate articles that are clueless about what they write, the writer wants to write a story about VMWare, but should stick with the facts, when they know nothing about the market shares involved.
    This will just add to the great lead that VMWare has over any other in the field.

    • Mozilla vs MSIE. Mozilla was superior to MSIE in just about everyway and it was free for download. MSIE won because it was included. Superior products do not win unless on a neutral playing field. And Windows is not neutral when it is against MS.
      • Re:R U kidding? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by figleaf (672550) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @12:58PM (#26726653) Homepage

        Netscape Communicator 4 was one of the worst browsers I have ever used.
        Netscape shot themselves by not releasing Netscape Communicator 5 in time. Netscape 4.5 was just 4.08 repackaged.
        By 1998, IE4 had already caught up and had better support for HTML, CSS and other recommendations than Netscape.

        VMWare on the other hand has been consistently releasing new versions with excellent new features and have maintained their lead.
        Superior products do win.

  • http://code.google.com/p/vmware-view-open-client/ [google.com]

    You'd think that at least one of the technology news sites reporting this would link directly to the code, but you'd be wrong.

  • maybe a little too late for me. I've gone with an alternative called "Proxmox VE" as a platform for VMs.

    It's a slimmed Linux (?Debian?) install that uses KVM and Virtual Appliances and is managed with a nice easy web interface (similar too but simpler than Xen's with less features maybe). I am currently running a dev and a production server with no complaints (70+ days for the production server).

    Some cool features include:
    - paravirtualized drivers for Windows from Qumranet to speed up network/hd io (I runni

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