How to launch ISO and use LiveCDs inside VMware Player

VMware Player can be used to run any precreated virtual machine by VMware Workstation, GSX Server and ESX Server (and even Microsoft Virtual PC and Virtual Server VMs).

But how to run a LiveCD Linux (like Knoppix), BSD (like FreeSBIE) or OpenSolaris (like ShilliX) distribution?
You cannot cause you don’t have an empty virtual machine where to map your LiveCD ISO.

How-to launch ISOs
First of all you need a virtual machine configuration file (something .vmx), where every virtual hardware aspect is defined (from memory size to how many ethernet NICs are available).
You can google around and find many of them or your can grab this one from livecd.vmx

Now you need to edit it (Notepad is enough) to map your LiveCD ISO on the virtual CDRom: just search for livecd.iso and replace with your ISO name.

Save the edited .vmx file and you are ready to launch it with VMware Player!

Note: to achieve better performances and compatibility you could change the guestOS = “otherlinux” (generic Linux distribution) string inside livecd.vmx accordingly to your livecd OS in this way:

  • Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition = “winnetstandard”
  • Windows XP Professional = “winxppro”
  • Red Hat Linux (generic) = “redhat”
  • SuSE Linux (generic) = “suse”
  • Netware 6 = “netware6”
  • Solaris 10 (experimental) = “solaris10”
  • FreeBSD (generic) = “freebsd”

To simplify and speed up the .vmx creation you could use the VMX-builder utility.

You could also want to create a brand new virtual machine with virtual disks (.vmdk) for VMware Player. If so read my How to create a new virtual machine with VMware Player post about it.