VMware launches Workstation 6.0 public beta

The most famous virtualization product on the planet is reaching its sixth generation. After a sneak preview at the VMworld 2006 conference, VMware finally makes Workstation 6.0 beta (and included VMware Player 2.0) available for general public.

The company aims to transform its desktop product in the preferred tools for software engineers, introducing notable features for ease development and debugging.

In fact this first beta (build 36983) sports the much acclaimed integration with Microsoft Visual Studio and Eclipse: when a new program must be tested developers can invoke run and debug directly inside a virtual machine, always assuring a brand new, secure and polished environment.

Other new features are nonetheless interesting:

  • Automation via expanded VIX 2.0 API
    Virtual machines control, including start/stop/resume/snapshot/import can be completely scripted with C, Perl, COM or the vmrun command line tool (note that these APIs are compatible with VMware Server 1.x)
  • Headless mode
    Virtual machines can now run in background, without the VMware interface running
  • VNC Remote Control
    Virtual machine can now be controlled through VNC instead of using guest OS remote management tools (no need to install VNC server inside the guest OS)
  • Cross-Platform Drag-and-Drop
    Files can be copied between host and guest level independently from the installed OSes
  • Increased RAM support
    Allocable RAM for VM has been increased from 3.6GB to 8GB. No more limits for maximum RAM allocable for all VMs.
  • New physical hardware support
    Support for USB 2.0 devices, 64bits sound cards and multiple monitors
  • New OSes support
    Experimental support for 32 and 64bits version of:

    • Microsoft Windows Vista (both host and guest roles)
    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.5 and 5.0 beta (both host and guest roles)
    • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 SP4 beta (both host and guest roles)
    • Sun Solaris 10 Update 3 (guest role only)

    Full support for 32 and 64bits version of:

    • Ubuntu Linux 6.10 as host and guest operating systems (both host and guest roles)
    • Mandriva Linux 2007 (both host and guest roles)
    • Novell Netware 6.5 SP5 (guest role / 32bit only)
    • paravirtualized Linux distros, based on the VMware VMI approach

Enroll for the beta here.

In further beta another killer feature called Replay is expected to appear: Workstation will be able to record every moment of the virtual machine life and reproduce it on demand, like in a VCR.
The revolutionary thing is Replay will not simply record what happens on the screen, generating a traditional video, but will record computations made on VM, allowing developers to exactly verify what happens during a fault inside virtual hardware for debugging purposes.

Effort VMware is putting in producing a must-have toolkit for software engineers is evident (this article describes how the whole company offering can simplify development, testing and delivery of new applications), but the most interesting thing anyway is introduced support for VMI-paravirtualized Linux: despite company fail in achieving VMI integration inside kernel, VMware seems to continue on its own way, probably hoping that showing a completed and working solution will increase chances to reconsider the approach.
So after introducing such support in an experimental version of Player, the company is distribuiting it mainstream through Workstation.

VMware is also slightly testing customers interest in upcoming blending of Workstation and ACE products, where the latter can be considered a superset of security features:

The virtualization.info Virtualization Industry Roadmap has been updated accordingly.