I have been working on ways to create separate machines on my pc using VMWare Workstation. The concept is to create the minimum operating system necessary to run a group of programs related to a specific area or task.
What are the benefits? I see several benefits. First, Microsoft Windows is known for getting corrupted over time with extra items in a registry, failed installs left over, incompatibilities with hardware and other programs as well as an inability to perform testing of new programs without mucking up the existing install. Thus, a separate machine for separate tasks can potentially leave the operating system working quickly and efficiently over a longer period of time.
Second, what about those legacy programs you have, but cannot afford to update or no longer carry updates. I have several financial programs I use that work well in windows 2000 and have not been updated for 32 bit operating systems. I also have some old DOS games (who doesn’t?) that I can easily pull up and play for stress release. Finally, I keep visual studio separate from everything else because there are way too many programs loading at startup.
Finally, how about portability? Hardware seems to last less than software. THe proof is here: how many of you are still using some DOS, Windows 98, Windows 2000 or Windows XP programs (Windows Vista is the current operating system)? I know I am. However, I am not using the same laptop I was two years ago, nor the same desktop. It will be nice with the next hardware change to move some of these virtual machines to a new computer and keep working.
How about the pitfalls? There are many, I won’t lie to you. First, the operating system can be slower. You have to have good strong processors and as much memory as your system can take. Second, with Windows XP forward, you have to reauthorize your computer if you move a virtual machine around because of the change in hardware. Prior versions of windows do not require this. That said, it is your responsibility to comply with the licensing agreement and only use operating systems you have valid licenses for.
Also, disk space needs increase with the use of Virtual Machines. You have repetitive updates and installs to keep up with. This takes time.
My personal feeling is that taking the time to setup an operating system, be it Windows 2000, Windows 98 or Windows XP, with all the specific tweaks I like, and then cloning that machine for different tasks takes less time than worrying about having to reinstall with the next hardware change.
I believe backing up individual machines and knowing that it will work on any hardware platform that I can get VMWare Workstation on, is a lower risk than keeping cd’s made from a backup software that becomes obsolete.
I will be posting a series of articles on using VMWare Workstation for this type of individual application. The focus of these articles will all be on creating separate machines on one pc for performing various related tasks. To find these articles, use the VMWARE tag on the list to the right.
Feel free to leave comments!