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Setting up a development environment on a Virtual machine.

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How many times have you started feeling your machine is getting a bit crusty around the edges. Computer taking a bit too long opening a picture, a bit too long closing that tab, a few extra seconds to open the context menu. We've all been there, right?

I had the idea for this little experiment last Wednesday when I had to completely wipe my desktop PC. It was old, running on it's previous OS for two years straight in the hands of my technophobic wife.

The PC had seen better days.

After an afternoon wiping it, installing the drivers, setting up the accounts and permissions, I felt it was mighty purty. :lol:

It had that minty fresh feeling of something new, even though the PC itself was very old. I opened up the Control Panel and saw the installed software. All it had was the things I installed as a necessity, and the extras courtesy of Ninite.

No way I was messing up this computer again. I installed my copy of VMWare.

Now, for those of you open source users, you should know, VMWare is closed source and costs money. But it's worth every single penny. Not once has it failed me in rigorous tests, whereas VirtualBox or VirtualPC have occasionally put me in the dog house at crucial times. I highly recommend it, it's just a fantastic product.

A couple of minutes later I had my own virtualization software up and running, and a few more and I had my Windows XP virtual machine, with 1Gb ram! Hey, I told you the machine was old.

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One of the benefits of using a Virtual Machine is snapshots. You can easily revert to previous snapshots, and taking a snapshot is very cheap and not time consuming. You can even continue to use the machine as it's saving the snapshot.

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There's also another perk to it, you no longer have to turn off your dev PC. You can just suspend the computer and quickly get it up again very quickly without losing work.

So how do I intend to use this machine?

Here's what I'm going to install on it:

  • Visual Studio 2010
  • Git
  • SQL Server 2008
  • The odd dev tool here and there

The kicker? If I ever feel the installation didn't go as planned or I messed something up, I can just revert it.

Use a VM for development, work smarter!

4 Comments On This Entry

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C++ Programmer 

20 May 2011 - 05:21 PM


21 May 2011 - 01:57 AM
I find virtualization slow (tried VirtualBox). Maybe because my processor doesn't have support for virtualization (VT-X as Intel calls it).
BTW VMWare Player is free.

Curtis Rutland 

21 May 2011 - 08:51 AM
I also find Virtualization a bit on the slow side for my serious development. Also, when I used it before, it didn't work with multiple monitors, which is pretty crucial for me.

On my macbook, I used bootcamp to make a windows partition, and installed Win 7. But then I installed VMWare Fusion, and it can run partitions as VMs. Which is really cool. So if I just need to do something quick, i load it up as a VM, but if I'm going to develop all day I can boot to it.

Sergio Tapia 

21 May 2011 - 08:55 AM
Yeah I hadn't considered more than a single monitor because I've never used more than one. That would be a downside, I agree.
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About Me

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Bienvenidos! I'm a USA ex-pat living in Bolivia for the past 10 years. Web development is my forte with a heavy lean for usability and optimization. I'm fluent in both English and Spanish. I guest write for the popular Python website Python Central. Visit my website.