|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 .
SYS-CON Events announced today that BroadSoft, the leading global provider of Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) services to operators worldwide, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's WebRTC Summit, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BroadSoft is the leading provider of software and services that enable mobile, fixed-line and cable service providers to offer Unified Communications over their Internet Protocol networks. The Company’s core communications platform enables the delivery of a range of enterprise and consumer calling...
Apr. 17, 2015 09:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,065
VoxImplant has announced full WebRTC support in the newest versions of its Android SDK and iOS SDK. The updated SDKs, which enable audio and video calls on mobile devices, are now compatible with the WebRTC standard to allow any mobile app to communicate with WebRTC-enabled browsers, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and, when available, Microsoft Spartan. The WebRTC-updated SDKs represent VoxImplant's continued leadership in simplifying the development of real-time communications (RTC) services for app developers. VoxImplant (built by Zingaya, the real-time communication servi...
Apr. 17, 2015 09:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,737
SYS-CON Events announced today that GENBAND, a leading developer of real time communications software solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's WebRTC Summit, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The GENBAND team will be on hand to demonstrate their newest product, Kandy. Kandy is a communications Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) that enables companies to seamlessly integrate more human communications into their Web and mobile applications - creating more engaging experiences for their customers and boosting collaboration and productiv...
Apr. 17, 2015 08:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,130
The IoT Bootcamp is coming to Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo on June 9-10 at the Javits Center in New York. Instructor. Registration is now available at http://iotbootcamp.sys-con.com/ Instructor Janakiram MSV previously taught the famously successful Multi-Cloud Bootcamp at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo in November in Santa Clara. Now he is expanding the focus to Janakiram is the founder and CTO of Get Cloud Ready Consulting, a niche Cloud Migration and Cloud Operations firm that recently got acquired by Aditi Technologies. He is a Microsoft Regional Director for Hyderabad, India, and one of the f...
Apr. 17, 2015 07:15 PM EDT Reads: 750
SYS-CON Events announced today that Optimal Design, an Internet of Things solution provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Optimal Design is an award winning product development firm offering industrial design and engineering services to the consumer, medical, and defense markets.
Apr. 17, 2015 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,551
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vicom Computer Services, Inc., a provider of technology and service solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. They are located at booth #427. Vicom Computer Services, Inc. is a progressive leader in the technology industry for over 30 years. Headquartered in the NY Metropolitan area. Vicom provides products and services based on today’s requirements around Unified Networks, Cloud Computing strategies, Virtualization around Software defined Data Ce...
Apr. 17, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,287
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ciqada will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Ciqada™ makes it easy to connect your products to the Internet. By integrating key components - hardware, servers, dashboards, and mobile apps - into an easy-to-use, configurable system, your products can quickly and securely join the internet of things. With remote monitoring, control, and alert messaging capability, you will meet your customers' needs of tomorrow - today! Ciqada. Let your products take flight. For more inform...
Apr. 17, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,440
What exactly is a cognitive application? In her session at 16th Cloud Expo, Ashley Hathaway, Product Manager at IBM Watson, will look at the services being offered by the IBM Watson Developer Cloud and what that means for developers and Big Data. She'll explore how IBM Watson and its partnerships will continue to grow and help define what it means to be a cognitive service, as well as take a look at the offerings on Bluemix. She will also check out how Watson and the Alchemy API team up to offer disruptive APIs to developers.
Apr. 17, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,362
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
Apr. 17, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,036
With IoT exploding, massive data will transform businesses with opportunities to monetize almost anything that can be measured. In this C-Level Roundtable Discussion at @ThingsExpo, Brendan O’Brien, Aria Systems Co-founder and Chief Evangelist, will lead an expert panel of consultants, thought leaders and practitioners who will look at these new monetization trends, discuss the implications, and detail lessons learned from their collective experience. Finally, the panel will point the way forward for enterprises who wish to leverage the resulting complex recurring revenue models, adding valu...
Apr. 17, 2015 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,337
How is unified communications transforming the way businesses operate? In his session at WebRTC Summit, Arvind Rangarajan, Director of Product Marketing at BroadSoft, will discuss how to extend unified communications experience outside the enterprise through WebRTC. He will also review use cases across different industry verticals. Arvind Rangarajan is Director, Product Marketing at BroadSoft. He has over 19 years of experience in the telecommunications industry in various roles such as Software Development, Product Management and Product Marketing, applied across Wireless, Unified Communic...
Apr. 17, 2015 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,514
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? Join this panel of experts as they peel away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud environment, and we must architect and code accordingly. At the very least, you’ll have no problem filling in your buzzword bingo cards.
Apr. 16, 2015 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,091
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of robomq.io, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at robomq.io, will discuss how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at the same time reduce Time to Market (TTM) by using plug and play capabilities offered by a robust I...
Apr. 13, 2015 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,863
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential Internet of Things Brand by Onalytica in the ‘The Internet of Things Landscape 2015: Top 100 Individuals and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed Twitter conversations around the #IoT debate to uncover the most influential brands and individuals driving the conversation. Onalytica captured data from 56,224 users. The PageRank based methodology they use to extract influencers on a particular topic (tweets mentioning #InternetofThings or #IoT in this case) takes into account the number and quality of contextual references that a user receives.
Apr. 12, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,885
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dyn, the worldwide leader in Internet Performance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Dyn is a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Through a world-class network and unrivaled, objective intelligence into Internet conditions, Dyn ensures traffic gets delivered faster, safer, and more reliably than ever.
Apr. 11, 2015 09:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,209
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold. Mike Kavis is Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Pa...
Apr. 11, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 6,003
The only place to be June 9-11 is Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo 2015 East at the Javits Center in New York City. Join us there as delegates from all over the world come to listen to and engage with speakers & sponsors from the leading Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data companies. Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo are the leading events covering the booming market of Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data for the enterprise. Speakers from all over the world will be hand-picked for their ability to explore the economic strategies that utility/cloud computing provides. Whether public, private, or in a hybrid form, clo...
Apr. 8, 2015 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 3,976
The WebRTC Summit 2015 New York, to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 16th International Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit.
Apr. 8, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,268
As Marc Andreessen says software is eating the world. Everything is rapidly moving toward being software-defined – from our phones and cars through our washing machines to the datacenter. However, there are larger challenges when implementing software defined on a larger scale - when building software defined infrastructure. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Boyan Ivanov, CEO of StorPool, will provide some practical insights on what, how and why when implementing "software-defined" in the datacenter.
Apr. 7, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,483
While not quite mainstream yet, WebRTC is starting to gain ground with Carriers, Enterprises and Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) alike. WebRTC makes it easy for developers to add audio and video communications into their applications by using Web browsers as their platform. But like any market, every customer engagement has unique requirements, as well as constraints. And of course, one size does not fit all. In her session at WebRTC Summit, Dr. Natasha Tamaskar, Vice President, Head of Cloud and Mobile Strategy at GENBAND, will explore what is needed to take a real time communications ...
Apr. 6, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,629