VMWare: Virtual Machine
What in the world is this? Just the name of it sounds extremely confusing, but trust me, it’s really not. A virtual machine is almost exactly what it sounds like. A virtual machine is like a whole other computer that you can install on your already existing computer. To explain this more, imagine this program as an illusion. When you use it, you can touch it, play with it and even run applications with it. The only catch is that it really doesn’t exist.
You see, when you are browsing the Internet, it’s possible for your computer to be tracked. It can be traced all the way down to your browsing habits. It’s possible for someone to know what you search, what your operating system is, how much RAM you have and all the other system hardware you have in your machine. Using a Virtual Machine is just giving it false information. Instead of telling others that you’re using a Dell computer with Windows XP, it will say that you’re using a Linux operating system on an unnamed computer.
There are several different types of Virtual Machines that you can install on your computer, but the most popular ones come with Linux installed on them. Now, before I go into talking about what you’re capable of doing with this program, I am going to tell you what you can’t do.
What Won’t I Be Able To Do?
The Virtual Machine that I am going to cover in this article is running on the Ubuntu Linux OS, which obviously means that it isn’t Windows. You are not going to be able to play Windows based games. You will not be able to view videos made for Windows Media Player. To sum it all up, you won’t be able to do most things that you can normally do with Windows. Linux and Windows are two completely different operating systems and nothing in either of them are compatible in any way.
On the other hand though, that doesn’t mean you can’t do certain things in Linux that you can do in Windows. The Linux OS in an open source operating system, which means that the programming code is freely distributed across the Internet. Anyone who is into programming and Linux is most likely trying to find ways to make Windows applications run correctly in Linux. We won’t get into that here, but know that there may be some software that will emulate Windows applications in Linux. Take, for example, Cadega or Wine. Those two programs are built for Linux. Their purpose is to get Windows based games to play correctly in Linux.
Why is a Virtual Machine Important to Have?
A virtual machine is a great tool to have on your side in the need of combating online computer viruses, Trojans, spyware, malware and other harmful computer risks. Why is that? Well, the Virtual Machine program we are going to be looking at here, has coined the surname of “Browsing Appliance.” While it does offer a fully integrated version of the Ubuntu Linux OS, it’s not really meant to be used that way. The sole purpose of this application is to allow users to browse the Internet in 100 percent safety.
Computer viruses are at an all time high and you’re probably infected with a few right now, even if you don’t think so. The great thing about the Browsing Appliance is that if your computer becomes infected in the Linux operating system, it won’t matter. Why? Well, it’s simple. The Virtual Machine is considered to be a separate entity on your computer. If you’re browsing the Internet in the Browser Appliance and get infected, there is no way the virus files can be transferred to your actual hard drive.
That is another great thing about the Browser Appliance. It runs off your system’s memory. That’s right. The only thing you install on your hard drive is the Virtual Machine software. The operating system is run off of your computer’s RAM. Viruses can’t touch files that are not connected to it. Since the Linux operating system is not connected to your main hard drive (since it runs from the RAM), there is no way for your Windows installation to be damaged or catch the virus.
Using the Virtual Machine software is easy. All you have to do is select which VM program you want to run with it and start it up.
Ever wanted to try Linux, but don’t want to go through the hassle of installing it? This application covers that too. It will allow you do to anything in the Linux operating system that you could normally do if you were dual booting to the operating system. The Ubuntu version of Linux that comes with this application is fully configured and ready to go. Thanks to the wonderful engineering from the creators of this program, Linux has become a “plug and play” software that you can try hassle free!
If you know how to download, install and run programs in the Windows environment, you will have no problems running this software.
As of now, there are two really stable versions of this that you can get, but before you can get the Linux operating system installation files, you need to get the Virtual Machine Player. You can do so here.
After you have downloaded the player, you can then download the Ubuntu Linux operating system for it from this link. (Make sure you click on the HTTP download, because the BitTorrent download will take too long).
Take special note as to where you are downloading these files. After you have downloaded both the Virtual Machine Player and the Linux operating system software, you can then start using the Virtual Machine Player.
The virtual machine player icon should be somewhere either on your desktop or in your Start menu. It looks like this:
Once it loads, click File, Open and then browse for the .vmx file with the Ubuntu Linux operating system files on it. If you did it all correctly, you should be booting into Linux in no time.
Now, before I turn you loose to go experiment, there is something very important I have to tell you. The Virtual Machine Player doesn’t act like any other programs you may have used in the past. When you click on any part of its window, you are actually locked into it. That just means that you will not be able to access any part of your Windows desktop. It doesn’t mean you can use Windows and Linux at the same time.
When you click in the Virtual Machine window, in order to get back to your Windows desktop, you have to press Alt + Ctrl. This will let you back into your Windows desktop just like normal. Just play around with it and have fun. If you get lost or need additional help, view the VMWare Help files on their Web site.
Hope you enjoy!
~ Tony Coffee