At the start I’d like to say I don’t have anything against VMWare Inc. and their products, and use their products regularly.
I tried VMWare Server 2.0 RC1 again. The first time was sometime early in beta so I just shrugged at the problems and returned to 1.0 to wait until they are solved. This time, it’s a release candidate. And it just sucks. It’s full of WTF moments:
* The install package downloaded from their site is > 500 MB. Really. WTF? A virtualization program? VMWare Server 1.0 had 150 MB and this was also completely over the top considering that the actual VM software (vmware-vmx.exe and companion libraries) is less than 7 MB uncompressed. When installed, VMWare Server 2.0 wants over 1.5 GB of disk space. Drives are cheap but this is ridiculous.
* Completely inappropriate use of technology 1: The VMWare Console (which was one of the best parts in 1.0 – small and reliable) is now replaced with a web interface, written in Java. Now we know how they filled 1.5 GB. The web interface is written as a servlet running in Tomcat 6. This means that, without doing anything, the host machine has a > 95 MB tomcat process in memory, waiting for you to connect. Again, ridiculous. Much more appropriate usage could be gained with practically any other technology ever. Java is particularly bad because of its sandbox – can’t do any system calls so a separate native layer must exist between it and the VM software proper. They could have written it in anything: Perl, Python, PHP, and got the same portability with a small fraction (2-3 MB) of used resources.
* The web interface is on HTTPS, which is good, but the SSL server asks the browser for client certificates. As I actually have client certificates in my browser, created for some other purpose, and have set the browser to ask me each time someone asks it for the certificate, this means I get constantly nagged by popup boxes. There is NO WAY to generate a client certificate that would be applicable to the VMWare Server 2.0 from the web interface or the tools installed in the Start menu.
And then there are the bugs (you can skip this section, maybe they will be fixed by the time you read it):
* The web inteface has somehow picked up some of my old “registered” virtual machines (actually it picked the machines at random, whether they are registered or not), but made a complete mess with their names – I had 10 machines, with only 4 unique names. And, I couldn’t de-register all of them. The AJAX stuff broke every time I tried to de-register the last of the duplicates.
* The Console (implemented, naturally, as a native executable so all that effort in cross-platformness of the UI goes out the window; actually, the console looks somewhat like VMWare Player so again running it on FreeBSD will be a problem) works in Firefox 3.0 but not in 3.0.1
* The Console cannot use the hosts file (/etc/hosts and its equivalent in Windows) to resolve hosts. So no matter that i have accessed the AJAX-y web interface as http://myhost/, the console complains myhost can’t be resolved. Nice, really nice. Fortunately, we can pretend we’re in the early 80ies and use my IP address to connect both with the web interface and the console.
* And at last, when I got the new Console to work through the IP address (as suggested on VMWare forums), it couldn’t find the VM it was supposed to monitor – a message like “there’s no MyVMName.vmx running on the server” pops up.
The end effect is that, after two days of trying to get it to work, I couldn’t even boot a VM and attach the console to it. And I really tried. So far, it’s an awful product (actually the VM product itself could be really nice, but I didn’t even get the chance to try it because of the horrible user interface) and I reverted to using 1.0.