|By Jon Watson||
|June 1, 2006 12:15 PM EDT||
Regardless of how fast, stable, and geek-chic desktop GNU/Linux has become, we still live in a Windows world. Many vendors, either through lack of vision or funding, will produce only a Windows version of their software or drivers. If you're a gadget geek like me, you likely end up in the same old quandary of "I want that gadget, but it only has Windows drivers." If you're even more like me, you'll elect not to take the high road and search for ways to run that bad boy on your desktop GNU/Linux box.
There are a handful of products that will enable Windows applications to run on GNU/Linux, all with varying degrees of success. Regardless of which products are on the market, they'll fall into two categories: those that require you to have a licensed copy of Windows, and those that don't. Win4Lin and VMware fit into the first category, which I affectionately call "virtual machine-type" applications. The second category is where products like Wine, CrossOver Office, and Cedega fall. These products don't require Windows, rather they attempt to fool Windows applications into thinking they're running on Windows by performing varying types of tricks at the binary level. I call this class of application "windows emulators" (quite wrongly, I admit).
It only seems fair to compare apples to apples and so this article is a comparison of the two virtual machine-type applications Win4Lin 2.7 and VMware Workstation 5.5.1. The test emphasizes desktop GNU/Linux and the test platform is a suitably powerful Dell Inspiron 1000 laptop with 512MB of RAM, a 30GB hard drive, a 2.2GHz processor running Kubuntu "Breezy Badger" 5.10 with kernel 2.6.12-10-386.
While it's important to note that both Win4Lin and VMware are both virtual machine-type applications capable of running Windows on a GNU/Linux box, they differ in the extent of their functionality. Win4Lin Pro is specifically designed to run a single copy of Windows whereas VMware Workstation is designed to provide many virtual machines, each of which can run a single copy of Windows, Linux, NetWare, or Solaris x86. This extended functionality is reflected in the price and download size.
Due perhaps to the fact that I've been writing a new Linux user blog for so long, I put a great deal of emphasis on the stuff that happens before I get down to the business of installing applications. How is the Web site laid out? Is the product easy to find and download? How is the documentation and support?
The Win4Lin Web site is well laid out and I found the download page for my preferred product in a few intuitive clicks. Once on the right page, I knew that I wanted the Win4Lin Pro product, and I found both Debian and RPM packages for the latest version, but no tarball. I downloaded and installed the 3.6MB Win4Lin Pro version 2.7 file named win4linpro_6.2.7-02_i386.deb, and went about reading the online documentation to figure out how to configure it.
I had to register to get a demonstration license key, but that's to be expected.
Win4Lin requires the KQEMU accelerator module for acceptable performance. Win4Lin Pro automatically builds this module as a kernel-compatible device driver every time Win4Lin is installed or upgraded. For KQEMU to be built correctly, however, the local system has to have the kernel source on it. The Win4Lin documentation contains instructions on how to install the kernel source for Fedora, Red Hat, Debian stable, Mandriva, SuSE and, thankfully, Ubuntu 5.10. The Ubuntu 5.10 instructions walked me through activating the "Universe" repositories and gave me the commands to get the packages KQEMU needed.
The VMware site was a little tricker to navigate, but still completely usable. I had to register even to download an evaluation version, but again there's nothing wrong with a company tracking its potential customers. I was surprised to see that an enterprise-ready application like VMware only offered an RPM and tar.gz package. I guess that's indicative of the inroads that companies like Red Hat are making into the enterprise space. However, running a Debian-based distro, I had to make do with the tarball. Like Win4Lin, I needed the toolchain and kernel source to build and install VMware.
I downloaded the 95MB VMware-workstation-5.5.1-19175.tar.gz file, untarred it and ran the intuitively named VMware-install.pl file in my newly created VMware-distrib directory. The VMware installation script asks a lot of questions, but also offers a lot of common sense defaults. With the exception of having to correct its selection of network interface to bridge to, the defaults worked on my system.
As is my custom, I generally contact a company before reviewing their product to give them the opportunity to ensure that I get the right product and have access to some support while I am doing the review.
Win4Lin completely blew VMware away in this respect. As soon as I asked for a review copy, Dan Perlman of Win4Lin was at my beck and call for the duration of my testing. I got my evaluation copy of Win4Lin within 24 hours of asking for it and follow up e-mails as time went on. I rarely waited more than a few hours to get answers to my questions. VMware, on the other hand, barely gave me the time of day.
I told VMware that I would be evaluating its product for a magazine article at the same time I told Win4Lin. VMware returned my e-mail six days later and then told me that they were going to snail mail me a copy of the application. Fifteen days later, I still didn't have it, but an e-mail with a VMware license key popped up in my inbox four days ago without any preamble or explanation of what it was for. Unfortunately, the e-mail wasn't useful because the download instructions with it didn't reflect the actual layout of the VMware Web site. As I write this it's been 21 days since I asked for a review copy and support from VMware and I've gotten neither. I can't help but wonder what would happen if I was a regular user who needed support.
Both products took the same time to install. There are really two installs with these virtual machine-type applications. The first being the installation of the application itself and the second the Windows installation in the newly minted virtual machine.
The VMware installation took 15 minutes to install once I had the toolchain. Then I installed my Dell recovery Windows XP SP1 CD in my new virtual machine, which took an hour and six minutes.
Win4Lin took 25 minutes to install, and another 60 minutes to get my trusty Windows SP1 CD installed and running.
Win4Lin put a launch icon on my desktop while VMware put itself under my Kicker -> System menu.
I put both products through their paces, but first I wanted to see how they performed out-of-the-box with simple startups and shutdowns. Table 1 shows these rudimentary metrics and how they compare against a native Windows XP Home SP2 install.
Win4Lin has a quicker launch and comparable shutdown time than VMware. When you take into consideration that Win4Lin has terminated at this point while VMware is still running - the shutdown times come even closer together.
During the test I had to reinstall both products at least once because of network interface problems. At one point VMware failed to launch complaining that it had been installed but not configured despite running fine for several days. A quick system survey showed that all of my network interfaces, including VMware's vmnet interfaces had gone AWOL. I had to re-run the VMware configuration script to get back up and running.
On another occasion, my local loopback interface (lo) failed to come up and that stopped Win4Lin dead in its tracks. Bringing it up manually restored Win4Lin for me.
I'm not convinced that either of these incidences were the fault of the products since it's not unheard of for my testing platform to exhibit unusual behavior with Linux apps from time to time. Thankfully, in both cases, my precious Windows XP images, which I had painstakingly upgraded to SP2, were still intact.
When I'm not writing magazine articles or blogging, I produce a weekly podcast named The JaK Attack!. I use the wonderful and free Audacity audio editor to record, edit, and encode my shows. I decided to use the Windows version of Audacity to put Win4Lin and VMware through their paces. This process is a good benchmark because it's practical in a number of ways:
- It tests the USB connectivity because I use a thumb drive to move the raw audio files around
- It tests the sound card functionality because I need to listen to the audio to edit it
- It tests the video responsiveness because I have to grab and drag chunks of audio around during editing, and
- It tests CPU usage because crunching a big WAV file into a small OGG Vorbis file takes a considerable amount of memory and CPU cycles.
Clearly, VMware Takes the Cake for Speed Here
Comparing products such as VMware and Win4Lin can be difficult. While most users would likely be looking at these products to host more run-of-the-mill applications than my Audacity, there's no real concrete way to measure how much faster an office product or Web browser performs one over the other. I didn't want to run a boring old benchmark application on both platforms. I wanted a real practical test that had some CPU intensity to it. Crunching audio fit the bill nicely.
The CPU metrics are only part of the evaluation; there are other areas to take into consideration.
I was surprised to find out that neither product supported the two USB memory sticks that I regularly use on both my Windows and Linux machines. Neither my 256MB Sony MicroVault nor my Kasercorp 2.2GB Jumbo Drive were recognized by either VMware or Win4Lin despite the fact that both devices are USB 2.0-compliant. I tried hotplugging the drives while the Windows guest was running as well as inserting the drives before launching the guest systems. The drives remained silent.
Win4Lin automatically creates a "HOME on host" share folder on the guest Windows' desktop that represents the current user's home directory. This is a great little extra that VMware doesn't offer. You can certainly gain access to the host's file system in VMware, but you have to add it as a share using the VM -> Settings menu. Not hard, but not obvious, either.
Both applications provide a nearly seamless interface for mouse movement. I was able to glide my mouse around my entire desktop and manipulate objects regardless of which desktop they resided on. I was surprised by this functionality in VMware because other versions I've used required me to press control-alt to release the mouse cursor from the virtual machine back onto the host desktop.
VMware sports a tabbed interface at launch to select a guest operating system. It's well laid out but not required in Win4Lin since Win4Lin is designed to run a single instance of Windows. (See Figure 1)
|sn8kman 10/23/06 10:59:14 PM EDT|
Just wanted to add that I also use Parallels Workstation for Linux regularly for those few (and I mean there's about 2 obscure applications) that I cannot run on Linux or find a reasonable alternative native to Linux.
|hazpaz 07/01/06 06:09:41 PM EDT|
i agree with the earlier comment that your host linux OS must be optimally configured with usb, video, audio, *, before running a virtual machine on it. your virtualization software comparisions, and your virtual machines will thank you.
|Jon 05/23/06 12:22:00 PM EDT|
Thanks for the comment. As a desktop guy, I don't really have a good appreciation for what all those networking options means. I do acknowledge that VMWare might be the better option for the server room, however. It's definitely got more features :)
|Jeff 05/23/06 12:17:23 PM EDT|
Nice review, I'm big into the flexibility that virtualization offers, both on the desktop and in the server room.
I haven't used Win4Lin, but have been using VMware for about 7 years now, one thing that sets VMware apart from virtualpc, at least, is the networking piece. VMware's networking can be configured in so many different ways. Bridge, NAT, host-only. If you have the hardware you can setup and test not only entire networks but interconnecting those networks.
I know this comment is a little out of the scope of your article, but the network piece is what makes vmware stand out in my mind.
|Jon 05/18/06 12:45:53 PM EDT|
You're the second person to bring that up. I was really surprised to hear about Parallels because I thought I knew everyone working in the desktop/home virtualization space.
The price point is definitely comparable with Win4Lin (OK, it's better) and it's on my list to try within the next little while.
|Ken George 05/18/06 12:36:00 PM EDT|
Interesting article, but there is a piece of software that outperfoms Win4Lin, is cheaper, and is VERY similar to VMWare called Parallels (www.parallels.com). I use it ALL the time, and is screams on my dual-core box (though, it does NOT support SMP at the time). I have not found anything as of yet that it won't run AND it supports MacOSX as well.
You should definately check it out...
|Jon 05/17/06 06:04:53 PM EDT|
VMPlayer is certainly cool, but it's not able to create images and is therefore not useful to me for the purposes of this article.
VMPlayer can only 'play' existing images created in VMWare Workstation, GSX Server, or ESX Server.
|Jamie 05/17/06 05:58:01 PM EDT|
I'm sure someone has probably mentioned this already but VMware has been and still is offering its VMware player now for free. Now even if you aren't a journalist complaining about not getting your free copy of VMware you can still use it.
|Jon 05/16/06 12:35:02 PM EDT|
Spoken like a true anonymous commenter. Some of us take the time to contribute to the community, some of us just bog it down.
|anonymous 05/16/06 12:29:20 PM EDT|
You are an idiot. You really didn't do much research did you? *sigh* Oh well...
|Jon 05/16/06 10:04:08 AM EDT|
I'll give that a try when I get home. I thought it was weird that something as standard as a USB drive didn't work in either application.
|Jose R 05/16/06 09:18:30 AM EDT|
for USB to work in VMware, first the host (Kubuntu in your case) has to be able to recognize the USB you are plugging into. next, in VMware you have a menu. When the virtual machine is on (in your case Windows XP), go to the menu VM---Removable Devices---USB --- Connect.... and voilà!!!! see what happens
best regards from Mexico
|Jon 05/16/06 08:45:27 AM EDT|
Thanks for the tips. Someone also mentioned Parallels to me today which I hadn't heard of before.
Lots of options out there, for sure. This article only deals with two of them.
|Steve Landherr 05/15/06 10:01:13 PM EDT|
If inexpensive and functional is your goal, try VMware Server. It's free and uses the same virtualization engine as Workstation 5.5.1. http://www.vmware.com/products/server/
|Sergei Steshenko 05/15/06 07:14:22 PM EDT|
If you wanted to write an article, that's OK.
If you want to run Windows under Linux, try QEMU
QEMU is free, it's at www.qemu.org .
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, will draw together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established ...
Oct. 24, 2016 04:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,290
Enterprise IT has been in the era of Hybrid Cloud for some time now. But it seems most conversations about Hybrid are focused on integrating AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google ECM into existing on-premises systems. Where is all the Private Cloud? What do technology providers need to do to make their offerings more compelling? How should enterprise IT executives and buyers define their focus, needs, and roadmap, and communicate that clearly to the providers?
Oct. 24, 2016 04:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,494
One of biggest questions about Big Data is “How do we harness all that information for business use quickly and effectively?” Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or spatial technology is about more than making maps, but adding critical context and meaning to data of all types, coming from all different channels – even sensors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, William (Bill) Meehan, director of utility solutions for Esri, will take a closer look at the current state of spatial technology and ar...
Oct. 24, 2016 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,716
SYS-CON Events announced today that Streamlyzer will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Streamlyzer is a powerful analytics for video streaming service that enables video streaming providers to monitor and analyze QoE (Quality-of-Experience) from end-user devices in real time.
Oct. 24, 2016 03:45 AM EDT Reads: 956
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
Oct. 24, 2016 03:45 AM EDT Reads: 883
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Oct. 24, 2016 03:30 AM EDT Reads: 9,668
Cloud based infrastructure deployment is becoming more and more appealing to customers, from Fortune 500 companies to SMEs due to its pay-as-you-go model. Enterprise storage vendors are able to reach out to these customers by integrating in cloud based deployments; this needs adaptability and interoperability of the products confirming to cloud standards such as OpenStack, CloudStack, or Azure. As compared to off the shelf commodity storage, enterprise storages by its reliability, high-availabil...
Oct. 24, 2016 02:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,100
The IoT industry is now at a crossroads, between the fast-paced innovation of technologies and the pending mass adoption by global enterprises. The complexity of combining rapidly evolving technologies and the need to establish practices for market acceleration pose a strong challenge to global enterprises as well as IoT vendors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Clark Smith, senior product manager for Numerex, will discuss how Numerex, as an experienced, established IoT provider, has embraced a ...
Oct. 24, 2016 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,052
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
Oct. 24, 2016 01:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,892
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and ...
Oct. 24, 2016 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,573
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
Oct. 24, 2016 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 795
In the next forty months – just over three years – businesses will undergo extraordinary changes. The exponential growth of digitization and machine learning will see a step function change in how businesses create value, satisfy customers, and outperform their competition. In the next forty months companies will take the actions that will see them get to the next level of the game called Capitalism. Or they won’t – game over. The winners of today and tomorrow think differently, follow different...
Oct. 24, 2016 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 969
“Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CloudBerry Backup is a leading cross-platform cloud backup and disaster recovery solution integrated with major public cloud services, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.
Oct. 24, 2016 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,350
In past @ThingsExpo presentations, Joseph di Paolantonio has explored how various Internet of Things (IoT) and data management and analytics (DMA) solution spaces will come together as sensor analytics ecosystems. This year, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Joseph di Paolantonio from DataArchon, will be adding the numerous Transportation areas, from autonomous vehicles to “Uber for containers.” While IoT data in any one area of Transportation will have a huge impact in that area, combining sensor...
Oct. 24, 2016 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 762
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
Oct. 24, 2016 12:15 AM EDT Reads: 890
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential M2M Brand by Onalytica in the ‘Machine to Machine: Top 100 Influencers and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed the online debate on M2M by looking at over 85,000 tweets to provide the most influential individuals and brands that drive the discussion. According to Onalytica the "analysis showed a very engaged community with a lot of interactive tweets. The M2M discussion seems to be more fragmented and driven by some of the major brands present in the...
Oct. 23, 2016 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 11,364
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
Oct. 23, 2016 10:30 PM EDT Reads: 4,609
November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Penta Security is a leading vendor for data security solutions, including its encryption solution, D’Amo. By using FPE technology, D’Amo allows for the implementation of encryption technology to sensitive data fields without modification to schema in the database environment. With businesses having their data become increasingly more complicated in their mission-critical applications (such as ERP, CRM, HRM), continued ...
Oct. 23, 2016 09:15 PM EDT Reads: 986
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Arch...
Oct. 23, 2016 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 5,996
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their online busine...
Oct. 23, 2016 08:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,295