Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ubuntu and VMware: New Installation

In January 2009, I decided to install plain-vanilla Ubuntu (i.e., not one of the official derivatives, e.g., Kubuntu, or many other unofficial distributions) on a new computer. This machine was running an AMD Phenom 8450 Triple-Core CPU on a Foxconn A7GM-S motherboard (with a maximum of 8GB RAM) and, at the start, a single 640GB Seagate hard drive. The latest release available at this time was Ubuntu 8.10 (meaning it was released in October 2008), known as Intrepid Ibex, so that was what I planned to install. I chose the 64-bit version of Intrepid because I wanted VMware to have access to more than the 32-bit maximum of 4GB of RAM. As with my 2007 and 2008 investigations of virtualization, I decided that VMware remained the best candidate for my virtualization needs. I had gone through many issues in the process of refining my VMware Workstation 6.0 (and, more recently, 6.5) installation, and this time around I hoped the process would be relatively straightforward. I installed Ubuntu on the target machine. Windows XP was already installed, and GRUB set up its usual menu. (I covered most of these details at length in my previous posts. For terms not defined here, use the search box at the top of this page to search my blog, and then use Ctrl-F or whatever is appropriate in your browser to find the specific locations where the terms are discussed.) Before the installation, I used a bootable GParted CD to add two Ubuntu partitions at the end, after my Windows NTFS partitions (for PROGRAMS, DATA, etc.) -- one for the Ubuntu program files, and the other for swap. That way, it was easier to see what I was doing when I got to the partitioning part of the Ubuntu installation. I modified the panels on my Ubuntu desktop, followed the steps to install my restricted NVIDIA graphics drivers, adjusted the font sizes in File Browser (Nautilus), and otherwise got the desktop in shape to suit me. Then it was time to install VMware. The file name was VMware-Workstation-6.5.0-118166.x86_64.bundle (meaning that I was installing the 64-bit version). To run it, I opened a Terminal session, navigated to the folder where the bundle file was located, and typed "sudo sh VMware-Workstation-6.5.0-118166.i386.bundle" (here, and elsewhere in these posts, without the quotation marks except as otherwise indicated). The installation was much smoother than it had been last time, when I had installed Workstation 6.0 instead of 6.5 (which was not out yet). In fact, the installation was painless and almost instantaneous. I rebooted into Windows XP and used VMware Converter to make a VMware virtual machine from that existing Windows installation. Unfortunately, when I booted back into Ubuntu, I found that VMware could barely run that VM. Performance was much, much worse than on my other computer -- partly because the VM was 40GB, larger than the 15-20GB VMs I ran on the other machine, but especially, I think, because I had only one hard drive. On the other machine, I had separate drives for Ubuntu program files, for data, and for the virtual machine. To speed things up, I ordered another hard drive. I had never owned a 10,000 RPM drive, but I found one on sale and decided to put my Windows and Ubuntu program files on it. I also revisited the Windows installation, removed some programs and otherwise got its size down to 15GB, used GParted to trim its size down to 25GB, and used VMware Converter to make another virtual machine. The next steps after that are the subject of a later post.