I have been told that VMware Workstation could decrease the time required to package and test applications. Others have said that packaging an application within a virtual environment could significantly increase the time required to complete the compile. What would be the real trade-offs if this approach was considered?

Any thoughts as to this recommended approach would be appreciated!

Regards,
CanNear
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Hi Cannear,

I'd be interested to hear reasons why VMWare would increase testing/packaging time. For me its a huge timesaver. As long as the organisation has a well developed SOE then where shouldn't be too many dramas.

What I do here is I have a PC running VMWARE. VMWare runs two virtual pc's, one is a packaging PC, one is a testing PC. The Packaging PC is a barebones Windows XP session that I use to capture the packages. The Test PC is representative of the clients SOE.

The main timesaver for me is near zero rebuild times. VMWare has a feature that allows you to "snapshot" the session, and "revert" to that saved session at any time, and it takes about 10 seconds to do so. So my packaging PC is "snapshotted" with windows installed, logged in as administrator, access to all shares authenticated etc. If I make a mistake, or I want to do a manual installation to test, it only takes 10 seconds to get back to that state.

In short, in my opinion, virtualisation technology is excellent.

Rgds

Paul
Answered 03/13/2005 by: plangton
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Hope you don't mind, I would like to expand on your recommendations. If performace seems to be an issue with some packagers, while not others, could the issue be with the package development machine itself? Based on your experience, what would you consider the dream packaging system? I have heard lots of memory (VMware 4.5.2 supports 4GB), 2 SCSI drives, and a decent graphics card and monitor.

Did you find any issues with the virtual NIC functionaing at 10MB? This seems to be something a number of people using VMware today tended to point out in past discussions. I use it daily, and found no performance issues, although I'm not generating complex packages, were the source media files reside on a network share or another form of storage.

Regards,
CanNear
Answered 03/13/2005 by: cannear
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Hi Cannear,

Well I'm using a Pentium 4 with 1 gig of ram and find that fine for running both the packaging PC (128 meg ram session) and test PC (256 meg of ram) at the same time. It depends on how much you want to run on in VMWARE, I for instance only use it for capturing packages and testing packages, all editing work I do on the Host PC and whilst doing that I usually am not running VMWare.

I am also using it on another PC with 512 meg of ram to run a VMWARE Windows 2003 Advanced Server (256 meg of ram) running an Altiris server. All using stock IDE drives, stock graphics card (Intel express) etc. So my setup looks like this:

*********************
Computer 1 - 1 Gb RAM

VMware1
Packaging PC
256 MB RAM

VMware2
Test PC
256 MB RAM
**********************

Computer 2 512 MB RAM

VMware W2K3
Advanced Server
256 MB RAM
Altiris Server

**********************

If that makes any sense. So the Virtual TEST PC gets its packages delivered via the Virtual Altiris Server. Works fine. Actually have just recently added two new host computers like computer 1 - so the Virtual Altiris server is being connected to by two new virtual clients simultaneously, plus having more terminal sessions from engineers on those PC's creating Altiris jobs and it runs really well.

Nope have no performance issues with the NIC functioning at 10MB. To me, the possible side effects of this are FAR outweighed by the rebuild times being slashed.

Yes a nice big monitor is good but graphics card is of next to no use at all in my experience, the main thing is ram.

Hope that helps somewhat.

Rgds

Paul
Answered 03/13/2005 by: plangton
Second Degree Blue Belt

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This makes perfect sense. Thank you for your recommendations!

Regards,
CanNear
Answered 03/13/2005 by: cannear
Senior Yellow Belt

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cannear,

I strongly second everything that plangton said, and could not have layed it out better. vmWare is on my "can't live without it anymore" list of apps. I don't even have it running on as powerful of a machine as plangton. In fact, I do 50% or more of my repackaging work on my laptop (1.4 ghz Pent M / 768mb) while on my train commute.

Two things can make a vmWare machine (and therefore, the compile) slow. Insufficient hardware is one. The other, however, is not knowing how to optimize performance on a VM machine. I can't quickly find any links on their site, but I am sure vmWare has some documentation on the subject.

Craig --<>.
Answered 03/14/2005 by: craig16229
Third Degree Brown Belt

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I love VMWare but aside from that the biggies for performance are the CPU when you have lots of disk I/O. The VM will make the CPU take a hit because of the virtualization. Also I know some people that bought too much ram for their VMWare workstations. Keep in mind that Windows XP supports 4 gigs of RAM but realistically I don't think you need that much. A machine with a good Pentium IV and 2 gig ram should be good. Using SCSI for disk would be a complete waste of money because VMWare is not really disk I/O bound. If you need some more disk I/O use a SATA array.
Answered 03/14/2005 by: kkaminsk
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Well I use MS Virtual PC for all of my work. I capture and edit and test on VPC.

My system is P4 2.8 gig
1.5 gig of ram and the rest is standard Dell machine.

I have only found 1 area where virtual machine has had issues. That is device installation captures. I don't know why but if an app has a non signed PNP driver then I do the capture on a normally built XP box to double check because sometimes the VPC misses things.

Other than that it works flawlessly and I couldnt go back to the old way if I wanted to.
Answered 03/15/2005 by: MSIMaker
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IMO, VMWare is ESSENTIAL! I'm lucky enough to have a dual-proc workstation w/ 2GB RAM. With a separate proc and that much memory to throw at VMWare sessions, I don't have anything resembling a performance issue. The ability to revert to snapshot is key. On my machine it takes 10 seconds to go from completely reconfigured to a CTRL-ALT-DEL login prompt on a clean machine.

Of course, I still get annoyed when I have to wait that long... Spoiled brat.
Answered 03/15/2005 by: VikingLoki
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Hi Jim

I use VPC also and, similarly to VMWare, find it a huge time saver, though if it were up to one of the other and cost was no concern (hahaha) then I'd go for VMWare, find it faster and have you seen some of the features in VMWARE 5? Whoa mama.

I'd agree with device issues on both VPC and VMWare, I always test them on a real live box just to make sure.

But thats just me :)

Paul
Answered 03/15/2005 by: plangton
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Has anyone experienced problems using these virtual products - VMWare or Virtual PC in environments where you have MAC address filtering or port blocking enabled?

I recently installed Virtual PC in my environment and the network port was disabled as a result of the new MAC address of the virtual network adapter.
Answered 03/15/2005 by: oofemioo
Blue Belt

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Hi oofemioo,

I've used VMWARE in an environment with MAC Address/port blocking and best you let your security/network people know about it beforehand, they'll need the MAC address and the port number - or they could open up your port if you are lucky.

Hope that helps

Rgds

Paul
Answered 03/15/2005 by: plangton
Second Degree Blue Belt

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How do you configure VMWare to work with InstallShield Repackager? I don't get it. I installed Repackager, then VMWare, then I created a VM and installed Windows on it. Now what's next? I saw a PDF about using VMWare and Repackager, but I don't understand how to map the drive of the VM..
Answered 03/20/2005 by: totoymola
Orange Belt

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Here's the instructions from the white paper.

Environmental Setup
1. Install AdminStudio.
2. Install VMware Workstation and create a virtual machine for Windows XP.
Using VMware Workstation, edit the settings of the newly created virtual machine and set
the following options (highly recommended):
• Select the Use host-only networking for the networking configuration of the virtual
machine.
• Configure the virtual machine for When powering off...ask me under Snapshots
mode, with confirmation.
3. Install Windows XP on the virtual machine.
4. In the Windows XP virtual machine, map the Y drive to the AdminStudio directory of the
development computer (i.e., INSTALLDIR\Repackager).
5. Map the Z drive to the Repackaged output directory of the development computer (i.e.,
C:\Packages). This directory is where the AdminStudio Repackager will copy the output
files for the application that was repackaged in the virtual machine environment.
6. Create a desktop shortcut to the AdminStudio Repackaging Wizard residing on the newly
mapped Y drive (Y:\isrepackager.exe).
7. Shut down the Windows XP Virtual Machine, then select Take Snapshot to save changes.
8. In the VMware application, select Edit virtual machine settings. Choose the Options Tab.
9. In the Options Tab of the Settings Editor, choose the Snapshot settings. In the Mode
Settings, select the Just power off radio button.


I've done steps 1-3, but I can't follow step 5 onwards.
Answered 03/20/2005 by: totoymola
Orange Belt

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Got it now. [:D]
Answered 03/20/2005 by: totoymola
Orange Belt

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