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VMWare on a Netbook

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Hi all, Anyone try out VMPlayer on one of these Atom based Netbooks? I was curious about performance. I was thinking of getting one with a gig of RAM, running Ubuntu as the host OS, and XP as the guest.

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I'm not sure, but I'm doubting the processor (Intel Atom?) that's in your netbook doesn't support hardware-assisted virtualization. You should still try it out, but I doubt you'll get useable performance.

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The first thing you have to know is that it's pretty slow to begin with. It's not a do everything laptop. The Atom just isn't very fast, imagine a Pentium classic running at 10x speed. 1.6GHz sounds pretty quick, but it's more like the equivalent of a 1GHz of some modern CPU architecture. This is done, of course, to give better power consumption and smaller size, which is what makes the machine so great.

Second, 1GB probably isn't enough. You'll need 2 gigs. You definitely don't want to thrash swap on this machine, being as slow as it is you might have to fight with it for 5 minutes before you can bring it out of that. You can probably do it in 1GB, especially if you turn the RAM for the VM down to 256MB, but to get the most out of it go for 2GB.

I haven't tried it though. I've had no reason to.

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I wouldn't really try that, it is very likely to be slow. These computers are not designed to be the most performant. If you want to try it anyway, I suggest you use VirtualBox instead of VMware. From my experience, I get the impression that VirtualBox is faster than VMware.

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[quote name='lattera' post='334391' date='Mar 29 2009, 11:21 AM']I'm not sure, but I'm doubting the processor (Intel Atom?) that's in your netbook doesn't support hardware-assisted virtualization. You should still try it out, but I doubt you'll get useable performance.[/quote]

It all depends on what kind of virtualization he's doing and why he's doing it. He says VMWare Player and I agree it probably won't work. VT might not be an issue, because VMWare has claimed their hypervisor runs faster without VT, due to its high latencies. Support was mainly for marketing reasons in the enterprise, and security in MLS gov.'t systems. Fortunately for netbook owners, there are several types of virtualization. A few that are "relatively" fast:

- Paravirtualization. Not having to emulate/translate the OS should make it easier, although I don't know what the context switching will cost on an Atom. Some small version of Xen or something might work, but may need tweaks.

- OS-level virtualization. OpenVZ comes to mind. Running a bunch of "VMs" in it isn't much different than running a bunch of server processes on Linux. If you are only doing two at a time, then the performance may not be horrible.

- QEMU with kernel plugin. I don't know about this one honestly, but proponents claim the kernel-assisted one is really fast. Who knows...

Honestly, though, you should probably plan for the eventuality where you can't do it on the netbook. I agree with most people's posts that the netbooks weren't made for that sort of thing. One of the solutions I posted might work, but don't get your hopes up. ;)

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i run vmware workstation on my hp mini note 2133 its got a 1.6 via c7m and 2 gigs of ddr2 800 ram 7200rpm hard drive runs vista buisiness and 2-3 virtual machines without a hiccup. ill run xp, ubuntu, and another if i need to and it hums along nicely. and i'll do all this while running 2 vnc connections to other boxens.

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[quote name='l0lcat' post='334681' date='Mar 30 2009, 04:36 PM']i run vmware workstation on my hp mini note 2133 its got a 1.6 via c7m and 2 gigs of ddr2 800 ram 7200rpm hard drive runs vista buisiness and 2-3 virtual machines without a hiccup. ill run xp, ubuntu, and another if i need to and it hums along nicely. and i'll do all this while running 2 vnc connections to other boxens.[/quote]

Via c7m is probably faster then a 1.6ghz atom, I'll need to run comparison tests.

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I actually think the Atom is faster than Via's current chips. A quick google shows me benchmarks that say something like that. Though Via's new chips look faster than the current Atom, new Atoms are on the way.

If that's the case, it'll probably work well then. I wouldn't think it would, but like I said, I didn't try it.

But I just have to say... VMs works great on my new Core 2 Duo @2.8GHz with 4GB of RAM. But that's a very different machine :P

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[quote name='Ohm' post='334687' date='Mar 30 2009, 04:52 PM']I actually think the Atom is faster than Via's current chips. A quick google shows me benchmarks that say something like that. Though Via's new chips look faster than the current Atom, new Atoms are on the way.

If that's the case, it'll probably work well then. I wouldn't think it would, but like I said, I didn't try it.

But I just have to say... VMs works great on my new Core 2 Duo @2.8GHz with 4GB of RAM. But that's a very different machine :P[/quote]

Well, at least Via's chips have built in security features.
Like "Hardware support for [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SHA_hash_functions"]SHA-1 and SHA-256[/url] hashing"
Or "Hardware based "[url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montgomery_reduction"]Montgomery multiplier[/url]" supporting key sizes up to 32K for public key cryptography"
Or [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NX_bit"]"NX bit[/url] in [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_Address_Extension"]PAE[/url] mode that prevents [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffer_overflow"]buffer overflow[/url] software bugs from being exploitable by viruses or attackers"

Those are some nice features that many processors will never have.
The netbooks with C7's are cheap as hell, and have nice security features.

And if I'm correct, they have some of the nicest security features offered on any other CPU.

Here is the offical write up on Via's official website.

Introducing the "The Via Padlock Security Engine"
[url="http://www.via.com.tw/en/products/processors/c7-m_ulv/secure_by_design.jsp"]http://www.via.com.tw/en/products/processo...e_by_design.jsp[/url]


It's funny how big things come in small packages isn't it?
How about dem apples?

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I don't think Via will be around much longer if this keeps up though. A few years ago, Via's only real competition was the Natsemi Geode, which got bought by AMD and is now targeted to a very different market. Though now that a market appeared large enough for Intel to take note, the Atom stole... well, just about the entire market. It's even invaded Mini-ITX. Not sure if Via can compete with Intel once it sees those dollar signs.

The integrated crypto is great, but.. who uses it? What software supports it? How does that actually benefit me?

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[quote name='Ohm' post='334691' date='Mar 30 2009, 05:08 PM']I don't think Via will be around much longer if this keeps up though. A few years ago, Via's only real competition was the Natsemi Geode, which got bought by AMD and is now targeted to a very different market. Though now that a market appeared large enough for Intel to take note, the Atom stole... well, just about the entire market. It's even invaded Mini-ITX. Not sure if Via can compete with Intel once it sees those dollar signs.

The integrated crypto is great, but.. who uses it? What software supports it? How does that actually benefit me?[/quote]

No clue, it's there for I.T Professionals.
And I have no clue about which software can support it.
I'm going to buy one of the netbooks soon I think, Only like 200 bucks.

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If you intend on actually using the netbook for actual work, I don't recommend getting anything smaller than the 10". My bro has an 8" and the resolution is pretty small and the keyboard is impossible to type on. 10" is a good size, still small enough to carry around easily, and is still large enough to work on.

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[quote name='Ohm' post='334695' date='Mar 30 2009, 05:36 PM']If you intend on actually using the netbook for actual work, I don't recommend getting anything smaller than the 10". My bro has an 8" and the resolution is pretty small and the keyboard is impossible to type on. 10" is a good size, still small enough to carry around easily, and is still large enough to work on.[/quote]

Thanks, I'll take that into consideration, I'm also glad to hear VMware is running nicely on these little Via C7's.

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[quote name='Ohm' post='334691' date='Mar 30 2009, 05:08 PM']The integrated crypto is great, but.. who uses it? What software supports it? How does that actually benefit me?[/quote]

I do, for one, in my designs for secure, anonymous computers. The PadLock SDK is used to integrate it into software. They offer modules to accelerate certain OS-level features, like a provider for Microsoft Crypto Engine and Java's Crypto system. Essentially, any software using those can just opt to use PadLock if its available, and something else if it isn't. The TRNG makes all sort of things easier, like random overwrites, key generation, etc. No need to worry about gathering entropy and that nonsense. Additionally, they have a few packaged apps like secure storage volumes and VPN's. You can see a lot of this on their web site: [url="http://www.via.com.tw/en/initiatives/padlock/software.jsp"]http://www.via.com.tw/en/initiatives/padlock/software.jsp[/url]

This would be the perfect platform for secure appliances if they would add a larger cache and VT technology. I could possibly do without one, so long as the other is there. (doesn't matter which) Considering its importance, every processor should at least have an onboard TRNG. I can see practical applications for PadLock in realistic simulations, online gambling, cheap crypto appliances, and a few other industries. Alas, I agree that Intel's dominance will probably put them out of business before they can make those last few changes. Also, I think their newest embedded processors don't have the security engine. I could be wrong, but I didn't see it on the specs a while back. Edited by army_of_one

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[quote name='R4p1d' post='334696' date='Mar 30 2009, 07:04 PM'][quote name='Ohm' post='334695' date='Mar 30 2009, 05:36 PM']If you intend on actually using the netbook for actual work, I don't recommend getting anything smaller than the 10". My bro has an 8" and the resolution is pretty small and the keyboard is impossible to type on. 10" is a good size, still small enough to carry around easily, and is still large enough to work on.[/quote]

Thanks, I'll take that into consideration, I'm also glad to hear VMware is running nicely on these little Via C7's.
[/quote]
i dont know that they make any 8" netbooks currently more than likely its 8.9" which is really only 1" smaller than the 10" netbook. i know alot of 8.9" and even 10" netbooks have very low resolutions which dosnt give you alot of desktop space to work with and makes browsing webpages sort of a pain sometimes and also running multiple open apps side by side. the my mini note is 8.9" but the screen resolution is 1200x768 so you get very high pixel density, more screen real estate and a crisp sharp looking screen compared to a 10" netbook with 1024x600 or simmilar. i also have an acer aspire one with the same screen size of 8.9" but the resolution is 1024x768 and it is a noticeable difference in image quality and workspace. so larger screen with lower resolution is gonna look even worse. also most 8.9" netbooks have near fullsized keyboards. the mini note has a 92% fullsized keyboard, but the one difference that mkes typing a whole lot easier on the mini note compared to the acer and other netbooks is the flat keys. the acers keyboard although the same size has beveled edges to the keys so it makes typing a little less enjoyable but still manageable.

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I'd really like to hear some feedback here on this too. This is mainly what I want to do on my future netbook. The smaller footprint of a netbook just fits what I need, but I need it to be able to run at least one other OS in VM, 2 if I have to. Suggestions?

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Jasco. I don't know if this will help you or not but I use my Acer Aspire One to remote in to other machines. I access and use my Ubuntu and Vista machines at home remotely. You can also load up a VM on a remote computer and use it from the netbook. This will get you access to the other OSs with taxing the power of a netbook.

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[quote name='l0lcat' post='334702' date='Mar 30 2009, 06:50 PM'][quote name='R4p1d' post='334696' date='Mar 30 2009, 07:04 PM'][quote name='Ohm' post='334695' date='Mar 30 2009, 05:36 PM']If you intend on actually using the netbook for actual work, I don't recommend getting anything smaller than the 10". My bro has an 8" and the resolution is pretty small and the keyboard is impossible to type on. 10" is a good size, still small enough to carry around easily, and is still large enough to work on.[/quote]

Thanks, I'll take that into consideration, I'm also glad to hear VMware is running nicely on these little Via C7's.
[/quote]
i dont know that they make any 8" netbooks currently more than likely its 8.9" which is really only 1" smaller than the 10" netbook. i know alot of 8.9" and even 10" netbooks have very low resolutions which dosnt give you alot of desktop space to work with and makes browsing webpages sort of a pain sometimes and also running multiple open apps side by side. the my mini note is 8.9" but the screen resolution is 1200x768 so you get very high pixel density, more screen real estate and a crisp sharp looking screen compared to a 10" netbook with 1024x600 or simmilar. i also have an acer aspire one with the same screen size of 8.9" but the resolution is 1024x768 and it is a noticeable difference in image quality and workspace. so larger screen with lower resolution is gonna look even worse. also most 8.9" netbooks have near fullsized keyboards. the mini note has a 92% fullsized keyboard, but the one difference that mkes typing a whole lot easier on the mini note compared to the acer and other netbooks is the flat keys. the acers keyboard although the same size has beveled edges to the keys so it makes typing a little less enjoyable but still manageable.
[/quote]

I already have an Acer Aspire one...

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On my netbooks with the Atom the biggest bottleneck would be the SSD. It would be pretty much out of the questions unless they had a faster SSD or an HDD.

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[quote name='Jasco' post='334710' date='Mar 30 2009, 08:07 PM']I'd really like to hear some feedback here on this too. This is mainly what I want to do on my future netbook. The smaller footprint of a netbook just fits what I need, but I need it to be able to run at least one other OS in VM, 2 if I have to. Suggestions?[/quote]

Well, you will be in luck. The Atom-based netbooks should only get better as far as performance goes. However, Intel's Atom Z5xx series includes VT support, which is hard-ware assisted virtualization. A few virtualization solutions, including some high assurance military systems, are built on that technology. So, it should help with the VM's. While VMWare's stuff runs faster than VT on fast processors, a VT-based solution might be quicker on Atom's. Again, though, I don't know the chip-level latencies involved during a switch. There could be some dark corners to watch out for.

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virtual box works fine with asus 904ha with 1.99gb-ram, have used with gentoo, knoppix, debian, dsl, arch, and lepton. from live (iso), or installed on virtual hdd. using standard 256mb for dev, i think 12mb video.

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New desktop processors have exceptional "virtualization" capabilities. Add to that most laptops cap at 4GB max; my Thinkpad's memory controller only supports 3GB. I use my desktop to run virtual macihnes and work remotely.

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