Great news in the world of Virtual PC’s. VMWare plans on offering its GSX Server product for free, according to Cnets News.com. This is great news for people who love their legacy OS (old DOS apps anyone?), or who constantly experiment with the Linux distro of the month. In fact, I just recommended VMWare to someone this week when they hosed their XP install while playing around with hard drive encryption software. If they had experimented with the software in a Virtual Machine first, they would have saved themselves the headache of having to restore a disk image, and if it crashed, so what, delete the VM and try again. VMWare is another one of those products I consider to be best of breed, although there are plenty of OSS alternatives, such as Xen and Qemu, but IMHO, they are not nearly as strong as VMWares offerings.
In the past I’ve used VMWare to set up virtual networks to test out exploits and learn what their traffic looks like under Sguil, plus I have used it to set up MySql databases under Linux to test report capabilities with BIRT. Ill also sandbox new software installations to a dummy image first to insure it won’t hose my system and to test for malware and spyware by monitoring traffic coming from the virtual machine pre and post install. I intend on using VMWare to also test boot code I will write for experimentation purposes as indicated in this article (still have not gotten around to doing so, but I will).
I hope there is some truth to this, and not just hype. If so, this follows on the footsteps of VMWare offering the free VMWare Player, and can be a great asset to folks who would like to offer VM Images to students during classes.