VMWare have released a free VMWare Player that allows you to play back VMWare images created by users of VMWare Workstation. This is great for training purposes and testing, something which i do quite a lot. I have around 10 different VMWare images setup for testing and training that i use quite frequently. the other good thing about this release is that vendors such as Red Hat & IBM have released prebuilt images of their installations ready to download and run.
VMWare is a useful tool that allows you run an operating system on an operating system. What does that mean? Well, suppose you run Windows XP, and you would like to develop or test a solution that runs on Windows 2003 or even Linux? VMWare allows you to create a “Virtual” PC that runs on top of Windows XP but is actually the same as another piece of computer hardware.
VMWare also allows you to “snapshot” your images, so you can test something, then revert back to the enviroment you had before the test. Very useful for trying out new software, developing and testing and other types of use while keeping your “host” Windows (or Linux) environment clean.
My only recommendation is that you get as much ram as possible, as you are now running 2 computers in one, so you need to allow for that. The other tip is to put the VMWare image on a seperate drive to your host windows systems (in other words, not the C drive).