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VMware Server Episode 2.0: The Revenge of the Web UI

Has VMware gone over to the Dark Side? Linux Magazine's Jason Perlow examines the recent release of VMware Server 2.0 beta, and finds its Web-only management interface disturbing.

We take you now to the Planet Virtual, where two combatants are already engaged in mortal combat. Laser swords drawn and at the ready, and facing each other on opposing levitating anti-gravity platforms hovering over a fiery river of molten metal, the opponents utter their final words.

Open Source Kernobi: Darth, slow, memory hogging and less functional Web interfaces compared to native Linux software are evil. Why did you remove the native Linux console client from VMware Server in the 2.0 release? We’ve been using it for years and its worked great.

Darth VMware: Evil from your point of view! From my point of view, the Open Source freeloaders and non-paying end-users are evil. You should be lucky that we give you a free Server product, period. And besides, if you don’t like the Web interface, you can always use the Windows-based Virtual Infrastructure client. You want native? Use our free VMware Player or buy VMware Workstation.

Open Source Kernobi: Well, then you are lost! That’s not what we Linux users want! Don’t you remember who and what you started with, back in 1999? Developers and power users need a free server with a native client!

Darth VMware: This is the end for you, My Linux community. I wish it were otherwise.

The fighting continues for what seems like an eternity, with the opponents trading blows against each other, until what seems like a stalemate. Finally, Kernobi opens up his Targus laptop bag, and produces a huge stack of DVDs, containing Linux distro builds with integrated Xen, KVM, and Virtualbox — all native and Open Source Virtualization packages for Linux.

Kernobi: It’s over, Darth. Open Source has the the high ground. Our hypervisors and management tools are catching up to you in polish and functionality, while you lag behind in driver support in your enterprise product offerings, produce bloatware, and alienate the fan base which got your company started in the first place.

Darth VMware: We’ve outgrown your community, Kernobi. You underestimate our power! We have more than 80 percent market share and we’re backed by one of the biggest names in enterprise storage. We can sit on our laurels, force end-users to eat what ever we give them, and we’ll get away with it too.

Kernobi: Don’t try it, Darth. Once the end users get a taste of free and open source virtualization, they’ll want to go to Citrix, Oracle, Red Hat, Novell, SWsoft or any other vendor that will give them support at their enterprise. Your 80 percent market share will shrink like a slice of Bantha bacon hitting a cast iron pan.

And so it went. Well, we all know how that sucky movie ended. Darth got burnt to a cinder and ended up having to wear a permanent sleep apnea mask welded to his face, and Kernobi and the rest of his kind retreated into the safety of their Open Source development model, one day to return and conquer the proprietary villains.

Of course, it didn’t have to end that way if Darth didn’t want to maintain the native Linux client anymore, they could have open sourced it for the community to maintain it themselves. Or better yet, release their entire hosted virtualization product as open source, since their enterprise hypervisor-based version ESX Server and its derivative products are what make them the big bucks anyway.

And as to Darth’s concerns of an open source version detracting from sales of their hosted VMware Workstation product, from which VMware Server shares much of its technology? Well, think of it as free development resources. Red Hat and Novell have been able to make that work for them. People still want to pay for support for a fully regression tested and stable version.

Of course, if I were one of Darth’s competitors and one of Kernobi’s friends — such as the aforementioned Citrix, Oracle, Red Hat or Novell all of which are using Open Source hypervisors as basis for their commercial virtualization products — I’d come out with an easy to install free product that seamlessly and easily converted VMware images over to whatever their native VM file format is, as well as a physical-to-virtual converter utility, with a nice, fast and native Linux GUI front-end. I might write it in a multi-platform toolset like QT, or maybe even Java so the client will run on Macs and Windows too.

Oh yeah, and if they want support and enterprise capabilities, they should charge them for that too. Cause, like, people pay for that. Even the Linux freeloaders, when they go to their day jobs in corporate America.

Comments on "VMware Server Episode 2.0: The Revenge of the Web UI"

digihorse

Yup. I saw your posts on the VMware forums. It seems, with this release of Server2 Beta, that they make clear where their concerns are, and its not with linux and linux desktop users. The only windows running are in virtuals. The Windows thick client does nothing. I do hope they rethink this. If they don’t then I’m done with them. Time to support the companies that support me.

Reply
alizard

Who else in the virtualization scene supports a clipboard allowing copy/paste between guest and host sessions?

For me as a desktop user, if it doesn’t support clipboard, there isn’t a whole lot of advantage in going to virtualization over running dual boot. I use Linux / VMware Server / Windows guest to support my business, not simply as a geek toy.

It also appears VMware Inc./EMC have managed to collectively forget how they got to 80%.

Other than that, I agree with digihorse’s comment. If VMware won’t support us, there’s no reason to support them.

Reply
verinux

Yeap, I couldn’t more agree with you guys.
I am thinking to migrate all my virtual data center to others.

why bother to support vmware, if they dont want us anyway…

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jasonperlow

alizard:

As far as cut and paste clipboard, it can be done independent of the console — at least as it pertains to windows guests — if you are willing to run the UltraVNC client on a Windows box or in a Windows virtual machine. UltraVNC has extensions that allow cut and paste as well as direct file transfer between UltraVNC Server and UltraVNC client.

http://www.uvnc.com/

It has a LOT more features than your regular Windows VNC client/server stack. Yes, it’s free.

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pravatpc

Hummm,
Now here it from an Admin’s point of view…

What most individuals (desktop dudes) / organizations (mid size) doing today is to use virtual*n on VMware server platform with out bothering about buying ESX/W6.0 with heavy bucks… resulting losses to VMware Inc. So, from VMware Inc’s point of view, they had enough with this GSX funda, now drop one by one major features and make people to go for ESX… and force desktop users to go for Workstation 6.0

Reply
tj62

VirtualBox supports clipboard copy/paste between guest and host.

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klema13

old customer is gone to …
sorry

From: WebForm@vmware.com
To: ***@****
Subject: VMware License Key
Date: ** Jul 1999 **********

The VMware Team
# VMware software license
Fields = “Cpt, Name, Email, LicenseType, LicenseClass, Count, LicenseKey, ProductID, ProductType”
Cpt = “COPYRIGHT (c) VMware, Inc. 1999″
Name = “***********”
Email = “***********”
LicenseType = “User”
LicenseClass = “Non-Commercial”
Count = “1 of 1″
LicenseKey = “*”
ProductID = “VMware for Linux”
ProductType = “1.0″

Reply
sargenthp

Windows-based Virtual Infrastructure client is what crashes all the time. Why can’t they write something that will work from Linux? All our VMWare servers have been up for an average of 300 days! Can’t say the same the VMVC server. Now that HP is supporting Xen we are looking in to that path!

Go Ron Paul!!!

Reply
semenhyia

have they forgotten that windows crashes for some of the most unbeleiveable reasons. well let them not say they were not warned …

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pacsguy

Just playing devil’s advocate here, but how many of you who are “withdrawing your support” for vmware are actually supporting them? (as in, paying for licenses or support, or contributing code?)

My guess is, not many. One of the posters above even admits to using vmware server for business.. WTF is up with that? It’s people like that you all should be mad at.

My company bought vmware workstation licenses (we use vms for validation testing of our software product and cross os development), but ended up switching to the free offering (vmware server) for reasons that I can’t remember now. Bottom line though is that if I need cut and paste bewteen OS, I’ll license the product. The price for a dozen workstation licenses is a hell of a lot better than the price of a dozen servers at 10k a pop.

Just my .02

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jasonperlow

Pacs:

Some of us end users who do not purchase VMWare products for our own personal uses are influencers or direct decision makers in environments that -do- spend money on things like ESX and Virtualcenter. So IT consultants and developers who need to prototype, become VCPs, solution providers, etc, who create these things for customers that do need the free server solution and they need one that works. Just because these individuals arent putting dents in their own Mastercards doesn’t mean that VMWare isn’t making money from us down the road. And they knew that when they offered a free solution to begin with. Its called viral marketing. But when you mess with a forumla that worked for a lot of people, your userbase — the same one that reccomends and implements the expensive version of the enterprise product for VMware’s customers, you create an untenable situation and it forces people to go elsewhere for solutions.

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deekattax

Any comments/reviews on Xen? I may be interested in both a VM server solution (small-size corp) for both Linux and Windows but not really interested in VMWare at the time.

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jasonperlow

Take a look at XenServer. Its a very nice solution, owned by Citrix. They have a free version you can download that is limited to running 4 VMs simultaneously (that can be upgraded to the unlimited full version with a license code) and has a very nice management front end, although it is Windows-based. The server is a single CD that you install on fresh hardware, eats up almost no resources, automagically creates the hypervisor platform and is ready to go in a matter of minutes. It is based on Debian using the Xen hypervisor.

Another solution that might have a lot of potential is Qumranet (http://www.qumranet.com) the company that officially sponsors the KVM project. However I havent actually played with the product yet. What I have heard and seen from the demos though seems to be really good, though.

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rzoch

“I would come out with” and “I might write” are the reasons why VMware has such a huge market share. ESX and VCS are incredibly easy to use and reliable — they’re proven products. If Xen, KVM, et al can catch up to VMware’s flexibility, support, and management tools, then “I will.”

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