At work we use the VMWare product suite extensively. We have the luxury of having licenses to almost all of their products. At home though I do not have personal licenses to many of these products but still want to be able to take advantage of the power of virtualization for experimentation in a development environment.
VMWare offers for free their VMWare player product which allows you to run existing VM’s. This product, though, does not allow you to create new VM’s, just run existing ones. Enter a great site called EasyVMX.com. This site allows you to create a blank shell VM into which you can load OS’s or software.
In its most basic form, a VM is just a .VMX text file that contains a description of the system specs of the VM. Using EasyVMX you can define the system specs you want to use (typically linking the CD-Rom drive to an ISO file to use for installation), download the .VMX file and start it up using the VMWare Player.
A great site when working with VM’s that I will write about more next week is www.turnkeylinux.org/. They have preinstalled ISO’s of many application platforms.