Network Simulation in VMware Workstation 8

In the new VMware Workstation 8 release, VMware has added a rudimentary network simulation setting where you can tweak bandwidth and packet loss for a given network card. Very useful when testing applications and servers and want to know how they react to network issues, or if you want to simulate a WAN link. I know this was available in Workstation 7 as well, but it used to be a team feature. Now it’s per vNIC feature, which makes it much more useable.

Configuring it is very easy, but you need to know where to look to be able to find the feature.

Configuring Network Adapter Advanced Settings in VMware Workstation 8

  • Find your VM, right click it and select settings
  • Select the Network Adapter and click on the “Advanced…” button
  • This brings up the Network Adapter Advanced Settings window, where you can tweak the network settings including inbound/outbound bandwidth and packet loss percentage

    There are a number of predefined settings for bandwidth, making it easy to simulate various scenarios like ISDN, cable, leased T3 and so on. You can even modify the virtual network card MAC address in the same window, if you need to do that.
  • Tweak the settings, and the new bandwidth and packet loss settings will immediately be applied to the VM

Configuring Network Adapter Advanced Settings in VMware Workstation 8: Video Demo

Conclusion

I love this. In my day job I’m often faced with simulating how different applications work over some rather wonky WAN lines, and building this kind of feature set into VMware Workstation 8 makes a lot of sense. I do hope they improve it in the future though, as I really would like to see it add tweakable settings for latency as well, which often is the main killer in WAN environments. For now, I’ll have to stick to WANem for the latency simulation, at least until VMware adds latency tweaking to VMware Workstation.

Installing Windows 8 Developer Preview in VMware Workstation 8

Installing Microsoft Windows 8 in a VMware Workstation 8 VM turned out to be a real piece of cake.

Follow the screenshots for the procedure I used, but basically all I did was to create a new VM with the pre-configured “Windows 8 Server” preset and inserted the downloaded ISO file.

Note: Windows 8 Server has been removed as a preset option in the final release of VMware Workstation 8, my screenshots are from the beta version. If you want to install Windows 8 in the GA version of VMware Workstation 8, you’ll need to do a manual install (as opposed to Easy Install). Use the Windows 7 option as a baseline.

Windows 8 VM Configuration Screenshots

Networking, sound and other virtual hardware issues were non-existing, everything just works right out of the box (or .iso as the case is). Adding more than 1GB memory to the VM also helps a lot when it comes to it’s responsiveness.

Windows 8 in VMware Workstation 8 Installation Video

Various Windows 8 Screenshots

VMware Workstation 8 – What’s new?

VMware is close (still in beta) to releasing the new major release of VMware Workstation.

Update 14. September 2011: VMware Workstation 8 has now officially been released.

VMware Workstation 8 brings a lot of new features and enhancements to the table, and I’ve been lucky enough to play around with it in the beta program.

VMware Workstation 8 System Requirements

To be able to install VMware Workstation, the host system processor needs to meet the following requirements:

  • 64-bit x86 CPU
  • LAHF/SAHF support in long mode

To determine if your host system is 64-bit capable, download CPU-Z to determine the capabilities of your processor.

To be able to run nested 64bit guests, like VMware vSphere 5 hosts, the system needs additional CPU features:

  • AMD CPU that has segment-limit support in long mode.
  • Intel CPU that has VT-x support. VT-x support must be enabled in the host system BIOS.

For a list of Intel processors that support VT-x check Intel® Virtualization Technology List, or use CPU-Z to identify that as well.

VMware Workstation 8 – New features

  • New User Interface
    The user interface has been updated with new menus, toolbars, and an improved preferences screen.

  • Remote Connections
    Connect to Server feature allows remote connections to hosts running Workstation, ESX 4.x and Virtual Center. You can now use Workstation as a single interface to access all of the VMs you need regardless of where they reside.

  • Upload to vSphere
    Integrated vSphere drag and drop integration. Automatic usage of OVFTool enables easy uploading of VMs from VMware Workstation to ESX hosts or vCenter. Move workloads from local test environment into production environment with a few mouse clicks.

  • Share your VMs
    This new features allows you to control who access them from other instances of Workstation, great feature for teams working together or single administrators that access the same VMs from multiple computers. Also, a VM that is shared is started with the host OS without starting the VMware Workstation GUI, similar to how VMware Server worked before it was discontinued.

  • New default keyboard driver
    To limit the number of reboots required during installation/upgrade of VMware Workstation, the Enhanced Keyboard functionality is no longer installed by default.
    Note: Upgrading from VMware Workstation 7 to 8 keeps and upgrades the existing driver unless VMware Workstation 7 is uninstalled before installing version 8.
  • Virtual VT-x/EPT or AMD-V/RVI
    This is a good one, at least for all of us that run lab environments on our desktops or laptops.
    This setting enables you to run 64bit guests inside nested hypervisors like VMware vSphere 5. To enable it, edit the vCPU settings for the particular VM.
  • Better Teams

    Add team attributes to any VM without any of the drawbacks. No longer forced to make a Team in order to manage multiple VMs together.

  • Improved graphics performance in guests
  • Improved vSMP
  • Other Virtual Hardware Improvements
    Memory support is now 64GB pr VM
    HD Audio is available for Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 2008, and Windows 2008 R2 guests (RealTek ALC888 7.1 Channel High Definition Audio Codec)
    USB 3.0 support for Linux guests. (Not available for Windows guests)
    Bluetooth devices can be shared with Windows guests