If you’re not using VMware Player, you should be!
VMware Player is a free product from VMWare that allows you to run many different operating systems in a virtual environment on your computer. It’s like having another separate computer in your computer . There are a number of reasons why you should be using it:
- You have an environment to install trial software without polluting your regular environment. This means you can also try newer versions of software you already have on your computer without messing up the current version.
- You can run older versions of operating systems and and older versions of software that no longer work on your current operating system. See the VMware operating system installation guide for more information.
- You can copy/paste from the clipboard and file system from one environment to another.
- If you use the virtual environment to surf the Web, you don’t have to worry as much about the impact of malicious code as you do in your regular environment. If you pick up something nasty in the virtual environment, you can delete the virtual environment and start-up/create another one. But don’t misinterpret what I just said, because getting something bad in a virtual environment is just as bad as getting something in your regular environment. The difference, is that if you get infected with malware in your regular environment, all of your personal data and files are at risk of being exposed. If you get infected with malware in the virtual environment, the malware cannot access your personal data and files in the regular environment. But keep in mind, that if your virtual environment gets infected with some type of password capturing malware, it may be able to capture any passwords you use to access a Websites in the virtual environment.
VMware claims that your regular environment is protected from bad stuff that finds its way into the virtual environment and vice versa. There was an interesting vulnerability found by Core Security Technologies found in 2007, but that particular vulnerability was addressed (see advisory VMSA-2008-0005.1 and this layman’s version). But the mere fact that Core did find a vulnerability, in light of the fact that VMware said that the environments were completely isolated, is very noteworthy. Just be smart about what you do in the virtual environment and you should be fine.
It’s important to note, that depending on the performance of your hardware, some applications may run slower in the VMWare environment than they would in your regular environment. It’s not a big deal unless you’re running very CPU/memory intensive applications.
Besides VMware player, VMware has other desktop virtualization products to meet your personal and business needs.