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Sharing Virtual Machines with VMware Player

VMware Player is an application that opens and plays virtual machines created with VMware Workstation 4 and Workstation 5, GSX Server, and ESX Server. On Windows hosts, the player also opens and plays Microsoft Virtual PC and Virtual Server virtual machines and Symantec LiveState Recovery system images. VMware Player makes your VMware virtual machines accessible to colleagues, partners, customers, and clients who do not own VMware products. VMware Player is included with Workstation versions 5.5 and later.

Note: Use of VMware Player is subject to the VMware Player End User License terms and no support (including Support and Subscription) will be provided by VMware for VMware Player. For self-help resources, see the VMware Player FAQ at www.vmware.com/products/player/faqs.html">www.vmware.com/products/player/faqs.html. You may also want to check the VMware Player Discussion Forum on the VMware VMTN Web site, at
www.vmware.com/community/forum.jspa?forumID=123">www.vmware.com/community/forum.jspa?forumID=123. The Forum is a site where VMTN members can exchange information, questions, and comments with each other regarding VMware products, services, and product support issues.

Running VMware Player

VMware Player is included in the Workstation 5.5 distribution. When you install Workstation 5.5, the application file, vmplayer.exe (Windows) or vmplayer (Linux), is stored with the rest of your Workstation program files.

To run VMware Player:

1. Open VMware Player.

Select VMware Player from the Start > Programs menu in Windows, or from the corresponding program menu in a Linux X session.

or

Open VMware Player from a command line:
In Windows, enter <path>vmplayer.exe
In Linux, enter <path>vmplayer

where <path> is the appropriate path on your system to the application file.

2. Open a virtual machine. When you launch the player, it displays a dialog box in which you can enter or browse for the configuration file of the virtual machine you want to play. You can use the field Files of type to filter the files displayed by file extension, so you can browse to the configuration file more easily.

When you have entered or selected a virtual machine configuration file, click Open. The player automatically opens the virtual machine and powers it on.

You can also open a virtual machine by right-clicking its configuration file to display a context menu in which you can choose whether to open the virtual machine in Workstation or in VMware Player.

Note: VMware Player can play only one virtual machine at a time. You must close the virtual machine currently running in VMware Player before you can open another virtual machine.

Configuring VMware Player

VMware Player is primarily a vehicle for playing virtual machines, and does not contain the full feature set found in Workstation and other VMware products.

VMware Player does provide the following features.

  • You can connect and disconnect any Workstation-supported devices in the virtual machine.
  • You can change the amount of memory allocated to the virtual machine.
  • You can set the type of network connection for the virtual machine: bridged, host-only, or NAT.
  • You can copy and paste from the virtual machine to the host and vice versa. To use this feature, you must have VMware Tools installed.
  • You can drag and drop files from the virtual machine to the host and vice versa. To use this feature, you must have VMware Tools installed.
  • You can set preferences for how commands are displayed in the player interface, and for how the player closes a virtual machine (by powering it off or by suspending it), when you exit VMware Player.
  • For instructions on using these features, see the online help provided in VMware Player (Player > Help).

    Closing VMware Player

    To close VMware Player:

  • Shut down the guest operating system in the virtual machine. The player closes automatically after the guest operating system shuts down, or
  • In VMware Player, choose Player > Exit (Windows) or Player > Quit (Linux). The player will either suspend or power off the virtual machine, depending on the preference you have set for exit behavior in Player > Preferences.
  • Setting Up Virtual Machines for Use with VMware Player

    You should take special care when you create virtual machines that you intend to be distributed and played by VMware Player. You will want to configure the virtual machine for maximum compatibility with all expected host machines and systems. Because the player's configuration options are limited, users are limited in their ability to make changes in a virtual machine so that it is compatible with their host systems.

    Following are a number of recommendations to help you configure virtual machines for maximum compatibility with VMware Player and with the widest range of host machines.

  • Think carefully about what virtual devices are actually required and don't include any that are not needed or useful for the software you are distributing via virtual machine and VMware Player. For example, generic SCSI devices are extremely unlikely to be appropriate.
  • If you want to connect a physical device to a virtual device, always use the autodetect option when configuring the virtual machine. The autodetect option allows the virtual machine to adapt to the user's system, and works whether the host operating system is Windows or Linux. Note that users who actually have no physical device at all, will receive a warning message.
  • If you want to connect a CD-ROM or floppy to an image file that you ship with the virtual machine, make sure the image file is in the same directory as the virtual machine and that the virtual machine uses a relative path to access the image file. Absolute paths will probably not work on a user's machine and vary depending on the host operating system.
  • If you want both a physical CD-ROM and an image, you should provide two virtual CD-ROM devices in the virtual machine. VMware Player does not provide a way in the user interface to switch a single CD-ROM device between a physical CD-ROM and an image. This also means that, in the unlikely case that you want to ship multiple images, the user will not be able to switch between them.
  • Choose a reasonable amount of memory to allocate to the virtual machine. If the user's host machine does not have enough physical memory to support the memory allocation, the player cannot power on the virtual machine.
  • Be sure to install VMware Tools in the virtual machine. VMware Tools significantly improves the user's experience working with the virtual machine.
  • Choose a reasonable screen resolution for the guest. A user is likely to find it easier to increase the resolution manually than to deal with a display that exceeds the user's physical screen size. Note that the player cannot automatically resize the display for Linux guests as it can for Windows guests.
  • Some host operating systems do not support CD-ROMs in non-legacy mode. To ensure that CD-ROMs work properly in virtual machines that you intend to be distributed and played on VMware Player, you should configure CD-ROM devices in legacy mode.
  • Shared folders should not be enabled. VMware Player does not support shared folders.
  • Make sure all of the power options are turned off in the virtual machine settings editor (VM > Settings > Options > Power > Power options). These options are:
  • Power on after opening this virtual machine
  • Enter full screen mode after powering on
  • Close after powering off or suspending
  • Make an appropriate setting in VM > Settings > Options > Snapshots > When powering off. You should set this option to Just power off, Revert to snapshot, or Ask me. The option Take a new snapshot is inappropriate for virtual machines running in VMware Player, because the player does not provide a way to access the resulting snapshot. The option Revert to snapshot is useful if you want to distribute a demo that resets itself to a clean state when powered off. If you select Ask Me, Workstation will prompt you to choose among these options each time you power off.
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