Linux support for VMware guests

For those who may be pottering around with Linux distros and have an interest in running them in a VMware environment, the official list is here… http://www.vmware.com/pdf/GuestOS_guide.pdf So generally most flavours of SUSE (OpenSUSE and SLES) run on Workstation and the SLES ones work on the server side.

Red Hat is well supported, but notably Fedora is absent.

Ubuntu is now on the list for both workstation and server – and is the first to support para-virtualization – which is cool.Mandrake, Turbolinux and FreeBSD are supported on the workstation platform. The absence of Fedora is interesting – it could be related to the issue of non-GPL drivers in the kernel – not sure whether this is old news, but it would prevent VMware loading their proprietary drivers on the platform – clearly something Novell, Redhat and Ubuntu don’t have an issue with. However, there are now open source vm tools – this shows which distros are making progress with them…

http://open-vm-tools.wiki.sourceforge.net/Distro+Package+Status

Fedora again seems to have troubles.  Centos (a Red Hat Clone), Gentoo and Debian seem to be making headway.

Without the VMware tools on a Guest performance of both guest and the underlying system are seriously affected.

So for a production ESX cluster I would only want to see official supported guests running – RedHat, SLES and Ubuntu.

Of these I suspect paravirtualised Ubuntu is going to perform best – though I guess it may be possible to paravirtualise SLES and Redhat, since both already support that on Xen?  Ubuntu is also ahead of the pack in terms of support for later versions of software, the latest desktop and server distros are out tomorrow ….

http://www.ubuntu.com/news/ubuntu-8.04-lts-desktop

http://www.ubuntu.com/products/whatisubuntu/serveredition

(The ubuntu Server JeOS is also quite interesting – a basic server OS for a VMware appliance, just add your own apps…)

Finally another idea: An interesting option for supporting a range of different Linux distros in a virtual environment, would be to base it on Xen, rather than vmware – e.g.  Run SLES 10 SP1 as a Xen Host, with paravirtualised Linux guests for Fedora, OpenSUSE, Ubuntu, etc etc etc.

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