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What's in a Virtual Machine on a Linux Host?

What's in a Virtual Machine on a Linux Host?

The virtual machine typically is stored on the host computer in a set of files, all of which are in a directory set aside for that particular virtual machine. In these examples, <vmname> is the name of your virtual machine. The key files are:

  • <vmname>.cfg - the configuration file, which stores settings chosen in the Configuration Wizard or Configuration Editor.
  • nvram - the file that stores the state of the virtual machine's BIOS.
  • <vmname>.vmdk - the virtual disk file, which stores the contents of the virtual machine's hard disk drive.

    A virtual disk comprises one or more .vmdk files. The larger the size of the virtual disk, the more .vmdk files. As data is added to a virtual disk, the .vmdk files grow in size, to a maximum of 2GB each. If the virtual disk is 2GB or larger, VMware Workstation creates multiple .vmdk files.

    If the virtual machine is connected directly to a physical disk, rather than using a virtual disk, there is no .vmdk file. Instead, a .raw file stores information about the partitions the virtual machine is allowed to access.

    Note: Earlier VMware products used the extension .dsk for virtual disk files.

  • <vmname>.log or vmware.log - the file that keeps a log of key VMware Workstation activity. This can be useful in troubleshooting if you encounter problems. This file is stored in the directory that holds the configuration (.cfg) file of the virtual machine.
  • <vmname>.vmdk.REDO - the redo-log file, created automatically when a virtual machine is used in undoable or nonpersistent mode. This file stores changes made to the virtual disk while the virtual machine is running.
  • <vmname>.vmss - the suspended state file, which stores the state of a suspended virtual machine.

    Note: Earlier VMware products used the extension .std for suspended state files.

There may be other files as well, some of which are present only while a virtual machine is running.

By default, the new virtual machine uses an IDE disk in persistent mode for Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows XP, Windows .NET Server and FreeBSD guests. The default for other guest operating systems is a SCSI disk in persistent mode.

Before you begin configuring your virtual machine, check the following notes and make any necessary adjustments to the configuration of your host operating system.

  • The real time clock function must be compiled into your Linux kernel
  • VMware Workstation for Linux requires that the parallel port "PC-style hardware" option (CONFIG_PARPORT_PC) be built and loaded as a kernel module (that is, it must be set to m when the kernel is compiled).

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