VMware Server 2 Beta: Use Virtual Infrastructure Client to Speed Up Administration

The web interface for VMware Server 2 Beta for Linux is garbage; it's both slow and unattractive. Even VMware Server 1 and ESX Server 2.5 from years ago had a faster/nicer web interface. VMware Server looks a bit like ESX and my experience with ESX taught me that it can be administered with both the web interface and Virtual Infrastructure Client (VIC). I wondered if perhaps Server 2 could be administered with VIC too and fortunately, my hunch was confirmed by the VMware forums.

VIC on VMware Server Beta 2 is much faster than the web interface and even provides a more information about the VMs resource histories. It can be assumed that pushing the slower web interface for the free product isn't so much tech driven as it is marketing/$$ driven but that's only a guess. VIC is a big part of the high end, high price ESX server but can be also be found hidden in the rpms and tarballs of VMware Server. I could not find it, however, in the Windows version of VMware Server 2, even after extracting contents of the executable using the /a option.

To find the VIC (Windows only client, Linux clients are out of luck) in an RPM, run the following commands: mkdir vmware mv VMware-server-e.x.p-63231.x86_64.rpm vmware/ cd vmware rpm2cpio VMware-server-e.x.p-63231.x86_64.rpm | cpio -i --make-directories

The file can then be found at ./usr/lib/vmware/hostd/docroot/client/VMware-viclient.exe. As for the tarball, expand it (tar -xvzf or WinRAR in Windows) and the file can be found at ./vmware-server-distrib/lib/hostd/docroot/client/VMware-viclient.exe.

The thick client is so much nicer; I know it's unlikely that I'll ever use the resource intensive MUI so I uninstalled it by running: chkconfig httpd.vmware off vmware-uninstall-mui.pl

Even though I ran the uninstaller, the MUI magically started up on the next reboot so I modified the permissions on /etc/init.d/vmware and then commented out the following line: $watchdog -s webAccess -u 30 -q 5 "$webAccess $webAccessOpts start" > /dev/null 2>&1 &. I then restarted the vmware service and it worked exactly as I hoped.

Aside from the bad web interface, I'm really impressed by this version of VMware server and I'm definitely recommending it at work once the final arrives. I honestly hope that Microsoft's new virtualization platform can impress me as much and even more once their product matures. As for xen, I successfully set it up in SuSE, it was eas as pie. However, my Opteron 270 doesn't appear to support hardware virtualization (even though AMD's docs say they do, perhaps I have to upgrade my BIOS) so I can't run Windows VMs. Totally unacceptable. xen is something I want to keep an eye on, though. Big companies like Citrix, Oracle and Sun are using it in their own virtualization platforms. Now to find a test server that supports hardware VT...

Update: You can also find the VMware-viclient.exe here on some .edu website. I haven't used it and can't vouch for its safety, but it's there (at least for now) in the event that you don't want to go through all of the above steps. The timestamp on it is December 2007 which is good for now, but I woudln't use it past June 2008.