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Joined: 21 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2006 12:44 pm    Post subject: Install Linux Using VMware Player Reply with quote

Quick Introduction:
I believe a similar guide has been posted on the official Gentoo wiki although it only covers the workstation version. This guide will get you up set up and ready to install Gentoo and then show you what to do after installation. This guide is not limited to any host operating system meaning that you can run the player inside of Windows or Linux. The guest OS is also not limited to Gentoo. You can use any distrobution for which you have the installation ISO for. VMware Player is free and is not limited to a trail period. Although others might prefer QEMU or Bochs, I have heard that VMware Player has better (described as near native) performance for the guest OS than Bochs or QEMU do, although I honestly don't know if this is true or not, so I won't get into that. Personally I have been able to run a fully graphically Linux setup on top of Windows XP with only 512mb of RAM in total on the system and even I was amazed by how well it performed. If you are going to be using a lightweight window manager then you might be able to get by with as little as 384 MB but I wouldn't recommend less than that. 1 GB+ will give the best performance as you might expect and a fast CPU helps too.

Application: VMware Player 1.0.1 build-19317
Host OS: Windows or Linux
Guest OS: Any *.iso
Minimum RAM: 384 MB
Recommended RAM: 1024 MB
CPU: 1ghz+

1.) Download and install VMware Player. On Linux you can use your favorite package management system or download from the website. The windows version is 28.2 MB. The installation will take quite a long time. Longer than one would expect for its file size, but don't worry, it hasn't crashed.

2.) Download the installation ISO for your Linux distrobution of choice. VMware Player uses the net connection provided by the host OS so you can feel free to use the minimal install ISO. If you are installing a large distrobution such as Fedora Core, use the DVD ISO so that you won't have to mess with config files. It is simply easier if the entire installation can be compounded into a single ISO.

3.) Using a web application called EasyVMX we can create the nessisary files for our virtual machine.

- For the name you can type whatever you want... The name of your distrobution or even just "Linux" works fine.

- Now you need to select the guest OS that you will be using. If your distrobution is listed, then select it from the drop down menu. If not then select "Generic Linux 2.6.x", assuming that you are using the 2.6 series of the kernel on a 32bit guest OS. Otherwise select whichever version matches your needs.
*Keep in mind that a 64bit distro will NOT run under a 32bit OS or CPU. The virtualization software does not emulate a CPU and also I am 99% posative that the host OS must also be 64bit for it to work.*

- Don't worry too much about memory size. This can be changed later very easily. I'm assuming that you are installing Gentoo and since the original install doesn't require much memory lets go ahead and choose 96 MB.
*Do NOT choose a number too high. VMware Player does not emulate memory so if you select 96 MB then the player will use up 96 MB when it is launched. I would not go higher than 50% of your total system memory.*

- The final entry is for disk size. This is how big your hard drive will be in total. Remember that it is unpartitioned. When in doubt... go higher. The virtual hard disk will grow as files are added to it. The total storage space is NOT allocated all at once. Meaning if I select 10gb and only use up 5gb inside the virtual hard drive then the file on the host OS will only be 5gb.

4.) Create the virtual machine from EasyVMX and download/extract the zip file. Now, move the installation ISO into this folder so that it is in the same directory as all the other files.

5.) Open up "FileName.vmx" with a text editor. FileName should be the name you chose for it in EasyVMX. The newlines in this text file are Unix based. If you are on Windows and open this up with Notepad you may see it all globbed together. The solution is to erase everything and copy/paste the config text that was generated on the EasyVMX results page. This way the spaces will be formatted properly under Notepad.

6.) You should see that everything is divided up into sections. We need to tell VMware Player that we are wanting to boot from our ISO. Scroll down near the bottom and find/replace the following...


# Settings for physical CDROM drive
ide1:0.present = "TRUE"
ide1:0.deviceType = "cdrom-raw"
ide1:0.startConnected = "TRUE"
ide1:0.fileName = "auto detect"
ide1:0.autodetect = "TRUE"


# Settings for physical CDROM drive
ide1:0.present = "TRUE"
ide1:0.deviceType = "cdrom-image"
ide1:0.startConnected = "TRUE"
ide1:0.fileName = "YourFile.iso"
ide1:0.autodetect = "TRUE"

Where it says YourFile.iso replace that with the name of the installation ISO. Again this assumes that the ISO file is in the same directory. Adjust if needed.

7.) Save and close the vmx file. Double clicking it should launch the installation ISO inside of VMware Player. Give yourself a pat on the back for getting this far!

8.) Install the Linux distrobution as needed. Use the Gentoo Handbook if you are using Gentoo. You need not worry about anything. All the actions performed here are on the virtual hard drive, not your real one. It is 100% safe to wipe/format/partition ect...

9.) Once you have completed the installation and it asks you to reboot into your freshly installed Linux we need to alter our config file again. Go ahead and exit the VMware Player after completing the installation. Remember when we did the "find/replace" thingy? Do the reverse. Basically change everything back to normal. You may also change it to say "present=FALSE" on that first line if you want to disable the CD-ROM completely. You can now double click the vmx file and continue...

10.) Lather, Rinse, & Repeat... We just installed Linux on VMware Player!!! Even if you already have a native install of Linux, this gives you a sandbox so that you can expierement with new distrobutions or live on the edge and test out the latest in Linux software.

Final Notes

    - It is possible to boot Windows inside of Linux doing something similar to this. Both legally and illigally. I'm not going to talk about that and I ask that other users who reply here do not either. We don't want to break any laws.

    - It is also possible to get OS X under VMware Player although without networking or sound support. Again this is illigal and I ask other users not to talk about it. The only reason I mention it is for those of you who are curious as to whether it is possible or not.

    - When installing/configuring X, if it asks you to select your video card from the database, select VESA. To my knowledge nothing else is supported under VMware Player. No direct rendering.

    - If you are like me and want a sandbox to play in, you can also compress the Virtual Machine folder so that if you screw up your install, all you have to do is uncompress another copy without needing to reinstall Linux. Do use compression though on your backups or you are just wasting HD space. It compresses very tightly.

    - Although this will use the network as provided by the host OS, you still need to configure it inside of Linux. I for example am using wireless on Windows but I configured Gentoo to use regular plain old ethernet. Basically VMware Player will abstract your connection as an its own ethernet card (works for winmodems) but configuration is still required so that Linux will work with the emulated card.

    - If you wish to transfer files the only way that I know of is through a network. Maybe run an FTP or Apache server on the host and then connect to it from the guest OS... and vice versa.

    - I believe it is possible to make the virtual hard drive bigger later down the road. Although I don't know how to do it. I don't know if doing so would corrupt anything or not. Thats why you make your virtual hard drive big since not all the space is allocated on the host OS for that file until you fill it up.

    - I used genkernel to compile mine. I don't know what settings you would need to do if you configure your kernel by hand.

    - If you have any questions I will try to help. I just did my first Gentoo install doing this method yesterday so I'm still a beginner myself. I dual boot between Windows and Kanotix for real but since I am still a beginner to Linux and this is my only machine which I use for school I couldn't afford to screw it up with Gentoo which lead me to using a virtual machine.

Thank you guys for all your support. I hope someone found this guide atleast somewhat useful.
update: Added some additional formatting to make it easier/faster to read and it should be easier on the eyes with less strain.
Gentoo User Since: July 20, 2006

Last edited by Darkhack on Fri Jul 21, 2006 5:53 pm; edited 3 times in total
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2006 12:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good work ;)

I'm sure many people will find it helpful, and I may even use it in the future a couple times.
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