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VMware previews future Fusion build with OS X Server virtualization

Thursday, January 17, 2008

At its booth at Macworld Expo this week, VMware is previewing a future version of VMware Fusion that is running Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Server in a virtual machine, on a Mac.

Although VMware's virtual machines can be used on the Mac and Windows versions of it virtualization software, a company spokesperson said that Leopard Server virtual machine will only run on Apple hardware. VMware did not announce a ship date for the new version.

The demonstration Mac was running six virtual machines running on one Mac, including two copies of Leopard Server along with four other virtual machines. One of these was a copy of Windows 2000 Server recovered from Virtual PC 7 with VMware's VMware Importer Beta 2, which VMware made available this week.

Leopard Server is the first version of Mac OS X that Apple has permitted to run in virtual machines, and only on Apple hardware. The user license agreement for the Leopard client does not permit running in a virtual machine. A VMware spokesperson said that it will disable the Leopard client, just as it does for other versions of Mac OS X.

Pat Lee, senior product manager of Mac products, said that Fusion customers have need to run Mac OS X Server in virtual machines. Lee said that administrators of Windows servers now use virtual machines for compatibility testing for new server versions and configurations, and that sites do the same with Mac OS X Server. He also said that there are benefits to run multiple Leopard Server virtual machines to support users.

"Running multiple Leopard Server VM's allows you to take advantage of the multiple cores. Most software can't effective use eight cores."

VMware Fusion supports symmetric multiprocessing, which enables multiple processors and multiple processor cores.

Lee also said that VMware customers have expressed interest in running Mac OS X Server and Windows server together on Apple hardware.

Lee said that other future directions for VMware Fusion would include improved support for 3D and improvements in the Unity feature, which integrates the Windows user experience with that of Mac OS X.

(See our VMware Fusion Tips and Reports page for more on VMware.)

VMware is not the first company to demonstrate a version of Mac OS X running in a virtual machine. At last fall's VMworld show, Moka5 demonstrated Mac OS X 10.4 client running in a beta of its LivePC product. Moka5, however, has no plans to support the Mac OS X client in a release version of its product.

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