Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Creating a Linux VM with EasyVMX and VMWare Player

When working out of the Seattle office of Insightful I had easy access to a wide range of Linux/UNIX boxes on the network. Hence I never got around to installing Linux for my own use.

The network access between Basingstoke and Seattle has gotten a little challenging with various IT changes, so it's time to get a local version of Linux on my machine. While I can imagine using a dual-boot configuration someday, at this point a virtual machine meets my needs.

It turns out that it's pretty straightforward to create a Linux virtual machine that runs on VMware Player. The pieces needed are:

  1. The EasyVMX web site to create the virtual machine description and virtual hard drive files.
  2. The VMware Player application.
  3. The Linux installation disk. I used the LiveISO version of Fedora 10.

With EasyVMX you just specify the OS type, RAM size, hard disk size, ISO file name, and various other optional settings. This then creates a zip with files representing the virtual hardware configuration for the requested specifications. If you specified the ISO file name, the machine will have that ISO loaded on startup.

Download, save, and unzip the zip file. Then open the "vmx" file with VMware Player. The LiveISO version of Fedora will start. This includes an option to install the software to the hard drive, which I did.

After you've installed the software, it'll prompt you to install a bunch of updates. I let it install all of them so it wouldn't bother me about them in the future.

Then you can install additional packages with the "yum" utility. There's a GUI application for software updates, but I went for the command line version. To see whether packages are available for a topic, use "yum list" with "grep":

     yum list | grep R 

To install a package, use "yum install":

     yum install R 

To install S+, download the images from the TIBCO download site and follow the standard S+ installation procedures.

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