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FreeMWare: Like VMWare but Open Source

Roblimo posted more than 14 years ago | from the exciting-but-overlooked dept.

News 303

CentrX writes "I was surprised that no one has contributed a story about FreeMWare since they started. FreeMWare is "an extensible open source PC virtualization software program which will allow PC and workstation users to run multiple operating systems concurently on the same machine." Like VMWare, only free and open-source. They now have a CVS repository and the latest source can be downloaded. I think this project is needed and needs some support from the community. You can also join the mailing list." FreeMWare was mentioned briefly here in April. Looks like it's come a long way since then.

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This sounds really cool (1)

Wizard of OS (111213) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478776)


I've been thinking about buying a license for VMWare (but since I don't have a lot of money, I've delayed it over and over) and now there suddenly is an open source project. That's just the best I could dream of. I'm looking forward to the first final release.

Re:This sounds really cool (1)

ghoti (60903) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478779)

Well don't expect a usable release any time soon. This looks *very, very* alpha. And I guess writing a complete VM is a hell of a lot of work (I'm just checking out the paper on "virtualization"). But it *is* cool, and choice is always good.

Lost Now Found (0)

R-2-RO (766) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478782)

I remember hearing of this a while back and 'meant' to look into it.
I just couldnt see spending 100bux on VMware, and i've run out of email addresses ;)

freeMWare (3)

G-funk (22712) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478785)

I've been on the mailing list for freeMWare since it started, and although I'm quiet, I pay attention. It really is coming along, and is (unlike other group projects I've followed) actually being led somewhere by the remarkable mr Kevin Lawton (sp?). I have to say, congrats to all the contributors, as this is a big step in the right direction.

-Josh G

Re:This sounds really cool (1)

Wizard of OS (111213) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478788)

Ofcourse. I think this could really work out, because I think there's a lot of need for a good system like this. Ofcourse, VMWare has THE market share now, but that could change. Look at microsoft and linux .... :-))

Simulating other systems (1)

cyoon (99971) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478791)

Hopefully, this idea can be extended far further than it is today. Imagine the ability to use a single generic machine (x86 or otherwise) that can emulate a variety of systems, including NT, Linux, BeOS, Sony Playstation, and your intelligent toaster. It's certainly possible, but it's a lot of work. Perhaps this is the first step. It's interesting to see where this may go. I'm interested in seeing what kind of performance they get. I'm also interested in how they manage to split the code between running natively and running emulated.

FreeMWare (3)

ShadowDragon (40886) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478792)

I for one am glad this is in development. I used VMWare back in it's beta days and was quite impressed with the idea. I wasn't that impressed when I started getting spammed about the release version and 'send us x ammount of dollars so you can still use this.'

If I was going to pay them the ammount they wanted, I would expect that all of my hardware would work with VMWare, but it wouldn't recognize my windoze partition and made me re-install, wouldn't let me have the 6 IDE devices I have in my pc (4 HDD, 1 CD-ROM, 1 CD-RW)

Now with FreeMWare, it's free, I expect stuff like this, and spending hours configuring it to be useful. I wonder how this will affect VMWare's pricing scheme?

Great news (1)

randombit (87792) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478794)

There are always a few non-free pieces of software on someone's box, and one that I've notices a lot of people using in VmWare. Along with Mozilla replacing Netscape, pretty much the only non-free sw people will be using soon will be Q3A [well, beside the OS they will be virtualizing, of course]

Seriously, this is great news for everyone, and I wish the developers good luck with their efforts. I'm looking forward to a release: in fact, if I had more than 64m of memory, I'd go try out the unstable version for kicks (who needs uptime, right?)

Re:Simulating other systems (3)

kijiki (16916) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478867)

VMWare and FreeMWare both virtualize PC hardware. Code executes natively on the host CPU. Playstations, and your intelligent toaster probably do not use the same CPU as your host machine. And non x86 host machines will be unable to run the x86 versions of NT, Linux, or BeOS.

CPU emulation exists and can do all of the above, however, you don't get something for nothing. CPU emulation (see BOCHS, executor, etc) is incredibly slow in the naive case, and even with complex techniques such as dynamic recompilation, signifigantly slower than native code.

Re:This sounds really cool (1)

kijiki (16916) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478869)

I can't understand why people seem to have such a problem paying for software that they will (most likely) use to run a commercial OS. How many people out there are using VMWare to run NetBSD in a window on thier linux box?

I'm not raggin on FreeMWare, because its extra cool (by virtue of the paper on PC hardware virtualization alone!) but I see the reasons to work on it as idealistism and features/extensibility, not price.

The place I really see potential for FreeMWare is a software ICE type system. A rich debugging environment attached to a virtual machine would make kernel hacking much easier and safer.

Free? (5)

Issue9mm (97360) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478871)

I don't mean to be critical, I really don't, and before anyone flaims me, I'm guilty of it too. But here is what I'm hearing:

"I'd really like to use VMware, but they want money."
"VMware is great, but they keep nagging me to pay them."

Etc., etc.. I understand that VMware's not open source, and that maybe it should be. Maybe after this it will be, once they realize that they're not the only kids on the block anymore. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't pay for it. If it's a program that you use, and that you enjoy, you SHOULD pay for it.

When developers start realizing that they're catering to a bunch of cheap bastards (myself included), they're going to pick up shop, or begin attaching themselves to something a little more worthwhile. Yes, someone else will pick up where they left off, but we need long-timers. Those in for the long haul, who've been around and gotten the experience.

I for one tend to at least try to support the projects that I reap benefit from. Granted, I don't use VMware, and would probably switch to FreeMWare if I did, but not because it was free. More because I am free, free to decide what I think it's worth to me in the scheme of things, free to choose when or where I'm going to pay for it. In other words, I don't use free software. If I like something, I like to show my appreciation of the effort, and money usually works quite nicely.

This is not to say that the developers wouldn't be just as happy with a postcard. A lot of times, it's things like that that MAKE the project worthwhile. In short, I strongly urge those of us caught up in Open Source to appreciate the authors. If you're going to switch to FreeMWare, try and make a donation. Can't make a donation? Send a postcard, or an email, or a birthday cake, or something. Let them know that their work is appreciated, or it won't go on much longer.

Re:FreeMWare (1)

R-2-RO (766) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478873)

I bet VMware will drop its non-commercial price to under 50 bux really soon. Though that might mean they have to stop their free T-shirt offer. :)

Minumun machice specs? (3)

Elvii (428) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478876)

Anyone know what minimum specs for this are? I don't use VMWare because my processer (p233) wouldn't run concurrent os's well... I know I *should* run a beefy machine to do something like this, but for situations like mine, where it's plenty of machine for my use, but not the newest wiz-bang 750 mhz chips, will this work well or at all? Lots of non-cutting edge systems out there, ya know. :)


bash: ispell: command not found

bash: ispell: command not found

Re:Simulating other systems (2)

ketilf (114215) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478879)

For what you are talking about, Bochs is probably better. FreeMWare, like VMware, is only about virtualization. They make an operating system think it's controlling the CPU entirely. It will only work on x86-based computers. Bochs, on the other hand ( [] ) is a complete portable x86-emulator. It is MUCH slower, though, cos it has to emulate every command. (VM|FreeM)Ware only emulate the protected instructions (or something like that).

Anyway, it seems the VMware people have patented some of their technology, so I hope the FreeMWare project doesn't run into any trouble there. I was unable to find out exactly what the patent was.

How far have they got? (1)

johnburton (21870) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478882)

Has anyone tried this out? How far have they got? When I looked at this a while back there was a lot of discussion on how to virtualize PC hardware and lots of "hacks" beinng done. The web site is interesting but doesn't seem to really say what the latest code does. Has anyone tried it?

Why bother? (4)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1478885)

I fail to understand the Linux community's obsession with recreating commercial products - even those commercial products that us. Is there some great reason why we should not pay for VMWare? Is there any single application you people are willing to pay for?

Let's get real. Free software is fine and more power to those who make it, but we have to realize at some point that people need to get paid for this stuff. And it doesn't just line someones pockets - its lets them work on their products as a job instead of some "after school" effort.

When the next killer app comes out for Linux I'll pay my fair share. How about you?

Re:This sounds really cool (2)

randombit (87792) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478888)

I can't understand why people seem to have such a problem paying for software that they will (most likely) use to run a commercial OS. How many
people out there are using VMWare to run NetBSD in a window on thier linux box?

You've certainly got a point (while it would be fun to run FreeBSD in a window, I'd probably be mostly running Win98 and BeOS on top of Linux). However, there is a very good reason for a virtualization system to be open sourced: easy migration path. People who would otherwise not use Linux b/c they don't want to reboot to use office or play games can use this (which will, I'm sure, be in most distros once it's stable). Despite the fact that they paid who-knows-how-much for windows and office, they will balk at paying $100 to be able to run windows on linux. But if it's open sourced, they will see it as "free beer". Once alternatives appear (which they're starting to), people will already be confortable with Linux and won't have a problem moving to it entirely.

But overall, I agree with you... if you just want a free-beer VmWare, quit whining and pay the damn company what they're asking! Or help develop FreeMWare. :)

Re:Why bother? (2)

JohnG (93975) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478890)

Well, the way I see it, there is a difference between "I want it" and "I need it" For example, Quake III is purely "I want it" (except to for those few fragaddicts.) It's not a necessity and it is not going to really make your life any easier, just more fun. So people don't mind paying for it.
Something like and OS or and Office Program or VMWare becomes more of a necessity. In the case of VMWare it safes lots of rebooting time, which nobody likes to do anyhow. What good is having an OS that can stay up for years just to have to reboot into one that has to reboot practically everytime a application is installed? When something crosses the line of novelty to necessity I think it is more important that we don't have to pay for it.
Besides if these people want to code this software then let them, I mean people like to code stuff, if this type of thing tickles thier fancy then it isn't just about not paying for VMWare.

Re:Free? (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1478897)

VMware is definately worth the $100/USD becase it is available and works well.

Like the Wine project, I'll be looking at the FreeMWare project because it is open source and I can thus trust that nothing odd is happening in the code behind my back. As we've painfully been made aware, any closed source product has a high chance of having some kind of trojan used to send details about us back to the maker. Who knows what other things it might be doing? This is my only real concern with VMware or using other closed source products.

I think part of the negitive reaction to paying is that it's an admission of defeat; in thier heart-of-hearts they're saying "I have to use some Windows software, so paying for it is a real hit to the ego". (This doesn't count the folks that are students or are just being cheap.)

Well, VMware is here. You want now, you pay now. You want later, it might be free (as in beer) as well as Freedom. How many of us have tried Wine, and found it's just not usable for what we need? (raises hand) I bet I'm not the only one.

VMware is usable -- now, not later -- for running FreeBSD or NT, so if you want to learn about these other operating systems without commiting to them, VMware is definately worth the price they ask. It works well, and isn't too hard to configure. If you've compiled a Linux kernel, it's trivial.

Partitioning? (3)

JohnG (93975) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478898)

One of the reasons I didn't use VMWare is that you have to install Windows ontop of VMWare. That is to say if you already have Windows installed you will have to reinstall and since I have a Compaq I don't a Windows 98 CD and don't really care enough about the issue to ask Compaq for one. (And now if MS gets their way it might not matter anyhow) I haven't used my Windows partition in ages just because I hate having to reboot and there is nothing there that I can't live without.
So what I want to know is if anyone can tell me if FreeMWare will be able to just boot from my existing Windows partition, or if that is even possible?

Re:Simulating other systems (1)

kijiki (16916) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478901)

The patent stuff shouldn't be a problem. MERGE (for SCO) has been virtualizing x86 PCs for years before VMWare existed. One of two things happen: 1) we have prior art in MERGE. 2) VMWare patented a novel way of virtualization that MERGE does not use, in which case we use the unpatented MERGE method.

No worries.

Re:Simulating other systems (1)

cyoon (99971) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478903)

Yes, I understand this, but the point of the message was not taking what exists today, but extending what already exists. x86 is today's popular architecture, but that may not be the case in the near future.

What's wrong with you people (0)

xHost (93751) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478904)

Not trying to start a flame, but what is with all this hostility for VMWare coming from ?

So what, they made a product and want are asking you to pay for their work, oh no .. how could those sons of bitches do that to us ?? Don't they know GIVING away their software is better !!

And don't give me this Its closed, therefore the alternative 'open-souce' is much much better


Open-Source doesn't work all the time, look at Mozilla ... need I say more ?

So stop being cheap for christsakes, and P A Y for the products your enjoying, next thing you know you'll want Q3A to be open-source and FREE.


Re:Simulating other systems (1)

kijiki (16916) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478907)

Evidently not. If you want to go beyond running OSes for the same hardware as you own, you must go to emulation techniques like BOCHS.

"This idea" refering to virtualization cannot be extended beyond running an OS for X on a X machine. If you want to run an OS for X on a Y machine, you need to emulate the CPU.

Re:Simulating other systems (1)

fwr (69372) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478909)

Well, once we have that code-morphing computer from transmeta then we won't have this issue, will we? We'll be able to run code for various architectures "natively" without the slowdown due to emulation of hardware...

Re:Partitioning? (1)

ghazban (28784) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478910)

It should be possible with freemware, and it already is possible with vmware... you have to use the drive 'raw', and make sure that the partition isn't mounted at the time. That said, read the docs, it should be there.

Re:Partitioning? (1)

Turmio (29215) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478912)

You probably have /mnt/dos/windows/options/cabs dir which contains the same files as Win98 CD. Burn'em on a CD or something. Don't have to ask Compaq for the CD then.

Re:Why bother? (1)

kurowski (11243) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478914)


I'll buy that an OS is a necessity. And depending on your work environment, an office app suite may be a necessity. But VMWare?

I'm curious as to why people see VMWare as being so important. Sure, there's a guy I work with who uses it to run Photoshop. I prefer GIMP. I'm sure other people use VMWare to run MS Office. I prefer vim.

If VMWare is so important to your way of computing, perhaps it's time to rethink your choice of OS?

Re:Free? (1)

peeping_Thomist (66678) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478917)

I don't mean to be critical, I really don't, and before anyone flaims me, I'm guilty of it too. But here is what I'm hearing:

"I'd really like to use VMware, but they want money."
"VMware is great, but they keep nagging me to pay them."

I thought the author's point was (and in any case my experience has been) that VMWare still has enough configuration and support issues that it doesn't seem right for them to be charging money for it -- yet.

X marks the spot (5)

JohnG (93975) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478918)

Ok I seem to be reading every other post saying "leave VMWare alone if they want to charge money let them how dow you hurt their business!" And the other half of the posts say "Yeah, FreeMWare now we don't have to pay those losers VMWare $100"
Well, let me just point out that there are companies producing commercial X-servers and doing quite well at it, even thought XFree86 exists. AND not only does XFree86 exist but it comes with every distribution. If these X-server companies can compete with the out-of-box solution than VMWare can compete with FreeMWare. I mean Wine hasn't replaced Windows yet has it? The folks at VMWare just have to raise the bar alittle. Since they are making money they just need to sink a little of it back into the software. If they can't raise the bar and compete with the free stuff then they never deserved to be in business in the first place.

Re:What's wrong with you people (1)

ghazban (28784) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478920)

Ok, the mozilla argument didn't quite help your case. Mozilla _is_ a success. Fullstop.

Re:Simulating other systems (2)

jilles (20976) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478923)

I agree. Right now each OS provide is solving the same boring problems: getting 3d to work, getting driver support for exotic hardware, making a filesystem, etc.

Having a generic OS core that is free and allows other OS to coexist would mean a great deal for smaller operating systems like BeOS. They wouldn't have to worry so much about hardware support, they wouldn't have to worry so much about coexistence with other operating system and could focus on getting things to work with the virtual hardware instead.

What I'm curious at is whether a multimedia beast like BeOS can be run efficiently virtually or that it would have to live with the limitations of the host OS (filesystem size, etc.).

Re:Why bother? (1)

kurowski (11243) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478925)

Paying for binaries isn't the only way that the software business can work.

My company pays for software support. The support pays for, in part, development of the software.

I often pay for copies of RedHat. Not that I get to use them, though. I bough 5.1 and rapidly switched to 5.2 when it came out. I bought 6.0 and never installed it becase 6.1 was up for d/l before I got 6.0 in the mail. But the point is, Redhat gives money to people who write software I like. So I'll give redhat money so they can continue that practice.

And my next machine will come from VA Linux. Yeah, they're pricier than other places, but they pay raster, mandrake, and so on, so...

I think free (speech not beer) software is great. And I'm willing to pay for it.

Pls Moderate down (flamebait) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1478927)

Maybe if they have a hof for negative karma then your pursuit will be worthwhile.

Some reasons to BUY software... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1478929)

1) Someday you may be on the other end. Don't
you want people to buy your software?

2) Validate the Linux market. If they sell
20M copies of Linux-branded Civilization,
the media will sit up and notice. More
Linux products will be created. Bigger
Wall-Street hype, more IPOs, more Linux Jobs!

2b) Validate Linux itself. If there are 200K
units of some accounting program sold, then
you can say to your boss "Look, 200K people
are using Linux. Why can't we?"

3) You get a nice box and manual for your shelf.
Whoever has the most Linux SW packages is the

4) You might be able to call them up and complain.
Or at least they can keep a couple of people
on staff to handle e-mail problems.

5) Think of it as a contribution. Those of us
who remember when buying a Unix distribution
was a four-figure investment are pretty glad
to be able to get an InfoMagic box of CDs for
$35 or whatever. You've probably gotten
thousands of dollars worth of software for
free. How about kicking in some bucks in

Look, I know people think that Software, per se,
is going away and we'll be left with nothing but
web-based services. But today, (and most of
us need paychecks today), software sales is a
big piece of the pie. So let's keep this revenue
source viable for a while.

-- cary

Re:Why bother? (2)

mce (509) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478930)

Besides if these people want to code this software then let them

Far from me to disagree with that but, on the other hand, think how many really new things we could be doing if we wouldn't be reinventing every single commercial wheel out there.

Or even some non-commercial wheels: I've seen somebody from Debian suggest that they should make a free implementation of a 2000-line program I once wrote and put on the net for free (back when the net was still a small and cosy place and the GPL had just only been born). Why? Simply because, for reasons beyond my control, I had to disallow "commercial use". Fortunately I found out (by accident) and was able to convince them that they were being worried about nothing worthwhile and should spend their time doing more useful things. Especially since there already is an in part similar GPL-ed program out there as well (by none less that Jamie Zawinsky, himself even).


Re:Why bother? (1)

johnburton (21870) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478932)

It's not about recreating commercial efforts, it's about having the basic tools you need to use your computer available freely. Open source projects might reduce the amount of mass-market commercial software sold, but they make one-off solutions for individual customers easier and cheaper to build because the infrastructure to build on is better, cheaper and better. It might result in reduced profits for large mass market software companies, but will result in more paying work for those of us that actually write the code. Open source is good for programmers, but not necessarily for the companies employing them at this time.

Re:Why bother? (2)

JohnG (93975) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478934)

As you might have read in my other post I haven't booted into Windows for many months now. So VMWare isn't remotely important to MY way of computing. Some people however might not want to give up the games of Windows or MS Office. But that doesn't mean they should always have to either use a crummy OS or reboot between OS's two or three times a day either.

Re:Free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1478937)

I thought the author's point was (and in any case my experience has been) that VMWare still has enough configuration and support issues that it doesn't seem right for them to be charging money for it -- yet.

While I agree, it's just nit picking on the part of the original posters. So, VMware doesn't support 4 hard drives plus 2 CD ROMs...big deal. It does support a couple drives, including in raw read/write mode -- and this is the point -- under the VM!

It doesn't matter how many devices you have on your host system - 1 or 100 - the VM is the only place that is limited. I use VMware, and if I needed much more support for the VM, I'd get another computer - and I'd be happier.

Re:Free? (1)

fwr (69372) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478939)

What you say is true, but I expected a little more from a commercial product. I purchased VMware quite a while ago (actually right when it went FCS, so I got the special $75 rate). One of the things that I wish it could do but apparently can't is virtualizing the SCSI controllers so that I can boot off a "raw" SCSI partition instead of having to run off my slow IDE drive. I know that there are issues with SCSI controllers because of the way the bus works, but this is a commercial company. I assumed that they would be able to find a way to do this given that they are making money on the product and their R&D efforts can be tied directly to the amount of income they are getting in. One thing they could possibly do is write a device driver for Windows that only allowed requests to/from specific SCSI ID's. You'd then have to commit a whole disk to VMware, but for me that's not a problem. Looks like the freemware people may get there before VMware...

Re:What's wrong with you people (1)

Klaruz (734) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478941)

I was close to paying for vmware, but honestly I don't use it that much. I can get nearly the same performance on a $500 pc as I can with a $2000 pc and vmware.

I gotta admit, the whole 'It's gotta be free!' thing bothers me a bit. I personally like the idea of giving your software away and paying for support. The people get free software, the companies gets people who love to code to fix their stuff and corperations have somebody to turn to when it's broken.

Free software is here and it's not going away any time soon. I like to see some people using open source the right way like digital creations. Granted, here are some who will do things a bit odd (SUN comes to mind) but overall open source works for great for me.

I don't think mozilla is a failure. Even if it is, it's one thing. Look at all the other great things the community has come up with.

As for quake. I think games will forever be something we pay for. Simply because of their nature. I for one am somebody who thinks a business should pay for the software you use. If the work of somebody else puts food on your table, you should compensate them.

Just my $.02

Re:Partitioning? (2)

fwr (69372) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478944)

Yes, you should be able to - as long as it's on an IDE drive and you don't mind rebooting your virtual machine a bunch of times to replace the hardware drivers.

I can tell you you'll have problems trying to take an NT install on a dual CPU system and make it run in VMware, because VMware only "presents" one CPU to NT when it's running under Linux.

For 98' you should be able to boot of the "raw" IDE partition. You will in all likelihood get a bunch of "error" messages about missing hardware or new hardware. Going into safe mode and "deleting" all your hardware, including motherboard "resources" and rebooting should make Windows "rediscover" the new hardware under the VMware environment. This is necessary because VMware "substitutes" virtual hardware for some "real" hardware. For instance, no matter what kind of Ethernet adapter you have VMware presents an AMD PCnet Ethernet Adapter to Windows. All I can say is that it worked for me, but depending on your actual hardware you may have "issues."

Re:Simulating other systems (1)

fwr (69372) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478945)

You're forgetting Tramsmeta, aren't you?

Would try VMWare, but can't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1478947)

I downloaded the demo, only to find that they don't support SCSI devices. What were they thinking??? I have absolutely no IDE devices, I'm SCSI all the way (as are many Linux users, I bet). Does FreeMWare do better in this regard?

Re:Why bother? (1)

kijiki (16916) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478949)

Yes, but we write whatever we're interested in. So there is no point complaining about whatever new things we could be doing if we weren't reinventing commercial products.

Someone (Kevin) thought that a virtualized x86 would be a cool project, so they started working. If you'd like to email and tell him that you think he should be doing something new instead, feel free, however, don't be surprised if you get flamed.

Re:Free? (1)

fwr (69372) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478950)

Not "raw" SCSI drives, only IDE. Since VMware requires a somewhat beefy system to run acceptably, it makes sense that people who purchase "beefy" systems would be more likely to have fast SCSI drives instead of IDE.

Re:Simulating other systems (1)

kijiki (16916) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478952)

no, not at all. Transmeta doesn't have a product released, and probably won't for the immediate future (next few months). And we still don't know more than the sketchiest outlines of what their CPU does. And we're not even 100% sure of that.

Re:Why bother? (1)

fwr (69372) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478956)

If you have to use Device Manager or Site Manager (Nortel network administration programs) for work then it is necessary).

It is called Rawdisk support and is documented (2)

BrianS (522) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478957)

What you want is called Rawdisk support. It is well documented by Vmware on their website and often discussed in their newsgroups. Take a look at the following sites for the specifics on how to set it up. I have used Rawdisks from the start since back in April when the beta's were released. ces.html []

news:// []

Re:Why bother? (2)

mce (509) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478958)

I have no intention to flame any particular existing project, and thus will not get flamed back for doing so.

Notice that I was speaking in general terms, and did not at any point express an evaluation of the usefullness of the FreeMWare effort. Hence, feel free to moderate my origonal post down for being off-topic if you want, but at least read and understand what it says first. Now you can flame me.


Re:This sounds really cool (1)

mircea (28953) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478959)

How many people out there are using VMWare to run NetBSD in a window on thier linux box?

There are some; I run FreeBSD and other Linux distributions on top of my Slack box :) Makes for _much_ easier experimenting, without the fear of hosing your machine.

Re:Minumun machice specs? (1)

mircea (28953) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478960)

I've been running it successfully on a PII/266 with 64M RAM; it's rather slow, but works.

Re:Lawsuit? (1)

fwr (69372) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478961)

If they do sue I can tell you that it won't take more than a few nanoseconds for me to never buy another product from them again. The only case in which I think a suit would be justified was if the FreeMWare team actually disassembled the VMware code and just recompiled it after changing variable names, etc. (and don't get all technical on me. I've disassembled stuff before and know that you don't get "variable names" but you know what I mean). Even if the FreeMWare team ended up using the exact same method for virtualizing the PC I don't think that VMware should sue, as long as they came up with the specifics on their own.

You forgot what "free" means. :P (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1478962)

Of course I pay for my software. So far I've paid for Red Hat, Debian, SuSE, and the Gimp. The reason why I WON'T pay for VMware is because it won't be free even after I pay for it. I'll still be constrained by their stupid license.

Please read ml [] before you come back here and try to rant about topics about which you clearly have no clue. Thank you.

Re:Would try VMWare, but can't (1)

fwr (69372) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478963)

Well, technically they do support SCSI drives, but they must be "virtual" drives instead of "raw" drives. Fortunately I have one IDE drive that I'm able to run Windows on for work related stuff, and hence can use it as a "raw" drive under VMware. It still seems unbelieveably slow at times though...

Re:Would try VMWare, but can't (1)

mircea (28953) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478964)

You can't use _raw_ scsi devices (yet), but nothing stops you from using virtual disks on mounted scsi partitions. Read the docs again.

Re:Would try VMWare, but can't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1478965)

I guess I stand corrected. But my situation is that I already have Windows 98 running on it's own partition, which I select via System Commander (I know I could use Lilo, but SC supports more operating systems like Solaris). So, VMWare won't work for me.

Re:Simulating other systems (1)

fwr (69372) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478966)

Yes, but FreeMware does not have a 1.0 "product" out either, so why are we talking about it? It's important for most people to have dreams and hopes for the future. If you're talking about a business problem, then yes, you can't count on Transmeta to deliver anything. But, from a personal perspective I think everyone has their pipedreams of a CPU that could dynamically change it's microcode in order to execute "native" instructions for a multitude of CPU architectures. Then we could run Mac software on a "PC" in addition to PC software, and Sparc software, and HP-PA software and anything else. We would no longer be dependant on software vendors to port their software to OS which runs on different hardware.

Come on, live a little, DREAM.

Re:Would try VMWare, but can't (1)

mircea (28953) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478967)

I think they announced support for raw scsi coming soon - you may want to check their newsgroups, on news://

Re:Free? (1)

elflord (9269) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478968)

I thought the author's point was (and in any case my experience has been) that VMWare still has enough configuration and support issues that it doesn't seem right for them to be charging money for it -- yet.

On the contrary, it seems good enough that a lot of people are willing to buy it. It works for me. Anyone who wants to try before they buy has 30 days to work out whether or not it also works for them.

Re:Why bother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1478969)

You show an amazing lack of understanding of how free software gets written.

Re:i "like" the way you talk "dude" (1)

fwr (69372) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478970)

I didn't even "realize" all the "quotes" until you wrote your "informative" reply. Thanks, I'll make sure I "watch" that in the "future."

Re:Simulating other systems (1)

kijiki (16916) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478971)

FreeMWare is publicly developed. Transmeta could at this point be preparing to skip the country, after having transfered all its VC to a country with favorable banking laws (not likely, but possible).

Who needs a dynamic ISA when we have open source? The silicon wasted on the added complexity in transmeta's CPU could have been better spent making its core ISA faster. Perhaps now people see why having the source code is useful even to you non-programmers out there.

Yes, if they can pull off a retargetablle CPU, it'll be a neat trick, but hopefully Open Source will take over, and we will be forever free of instruction set tyranny.

Chill, will you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1478972)

Geez people. Give VMWare a break, will ya? The product has only been out for what... 6 months? A year at most? They probably haven't had time to do SCSI and other stuff yet. It doesn't mean they are a bunch of SCSI hating bastards, it just means that the product isn't up to snuff there yet. I've just started using VMWare (on their 30-day license). I'm pretty impressed. Granted, it takes a fairly studly box to be able to run the thing. I still think it's fairly amazing that they can pull it off as well as it works. I do get a few hangs in the bootup of my NT virtual machine, but after that point it seems to work OK. For all those people who are bitching about VMWare actually costing money, remember that they are at least giving a price break to private users. My company uses VMWare for testing (the Linux-only programmers find it slightly more palatable to run a simulated Windows, then actually having to dual boot :). We pay the $300/per seat license fee. And, actually, developers seems to be the main focus of VMWare. It has to ability to rollback changes to the virtual disk, so you can re-run your installer as many times as you please and still have a virgin machine. Oh, and you have the joy of simply strolling away from a BSOD, reading your e-mail or whatnot while the virtual Windows machine reboots. Cut the guys slack, will you? How many other commercial software companies can you point to who have both a windows and Linux version of the same product, and have the Linux version COME OUT FIRST? If everyone jumps on VMWare screaming "we want it free you miserable capitalistic bastards!" what sort of message does that send to other potential deveopers? Seems to me we're always screaming for new software to be ported over to Linux. Now that this company has done it, we're bitching that they have the gall to charge us? I'm all for the OS movement. I think it's fine that there's an OS version of VMWare in the works. It'll be interesting to see how welll it goes. I don't have high hopes, considering how long Wine has been going, and seeing how marginally useful it is in some cases. The VMWare folks seem to be backers of OS as well. After all, didn't they donate a bunch of licenses of VMWare to the Wine project? Now, I'll go back to seeing how VMWare works. I suspect, at this rate, I'll be buying it before my demo license runs out.

obligatory response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1478973)

Ya, VMWare is non-free, so what does this have to do with money? Think free speech, not free beer.

Interesting quote (5)

wct (45593) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478974)

To add to the VMware vs Freemware debate, here's an interesting quote from Keith Lawton, Freemware founder and bochs developer (from an interview [] on :

I take exception to people thinking that FreeMWare is riding on the backs of VMWare for two reasons. The first being that the Bochs team has talked about this well before VMWare formed their company. The second is that long ago, I received a request from people at Stanford to use Bochs for free for "educational" use. Given that I like to help out educational causes, I of course obliged. Check out where VMWare got its start. Enough said.

Without knowing the circumstances and amount of truth behind that statement I can't really comment further. What I can say is, I have used bochs before (for an OS design assignment) and while slow and difficult to configure, it is quite versatile and usable - Windows 3.1 runs usably under Alpha, for example. But I wonder how much of bochs is directly applicable to the problem of virtualisation?


Re:Simulating other systems (2)

Phil Thomas (281) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478975)

I was told by the guy from vmware at ALS that BeOS does not run well within vmware. It simply likes to have more resources than can be alotted to it by the host OS. I'm also sure that vmware is better optimized to handle things like windows and linux/bsd due to the much larger number of users for those os's than for the BeOS. I have Be, but not vmware so I've never tried it.

Re:X marks the spot (1)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478976)

Actually, the folks at VMware don't have to raise the bar at all, because right now they're the only bar in town. Freemware is a good project, but it's got a long way to go.


"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

Re:Why bother? (1)

mce (509) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478977)

I'm sorry, but I don't think so. I've been at it longer than many others around here, and was recently deemed (un)worthy to get the VALinux IPO letter, so there seem to be others out there who know that.


Re:What's wrong with you people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1478978)

A success...when? It's only been 10 years

Re:Would try VMWare, but can't (1)

whoop (194) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478979)

Or mount it in Linux, share it with Samba, then install VMware on a virtual disk and copy what you want from the partition over. This way you don't need to trash your Windows system. You can toy with things in VMware, and no harm can come to the Windows partition.

On the other hand, IDE drives are so damned cheap nowadays, pick up one. For $200, I've got 20g of various backup/temp/nonessential space while my main system runs on a couple SCSIs. Though the biggest bitch with virtual disks, is you're limited to the 2gig file size. For me, I don't need much in VMware, so it isn't a big concern.

Re:Why bother? (1)

peter hoffman (2017) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478980)

Because the source code to VMware is not available?

I generally don't like being dependent on the continued existence and good will of my tools providers. Suppose I depended on VMware and they went out of business? Suppose they raised their price to $10,000? Suppose there was a bug that critically affected my operation that chose not to fix?

There are many reasons to bother.

it will work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1478981)

just try it, trust me

Re:i "like" the way you talk "dude" (1)

YogSothoth (3357) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478982)

unlike you, my post isn't very "informative" - its just that I like to use extraneous "quotes" because I am a "cretin". To add something on topic to this post, I am the author of a moderate amount of open source software and though some of the stuff I have written has been very popular (judging by the download numbers) I pretty much never receive even an email from the downloaders. I think most open source authors write code for the same reasons I do: (1) because you find the problem interesting (2) because you need the problem solved (3) for the admiration of one's peers. Reason (3) is a huge motivator and as the originator of this thread mentioned *anything* will do (postcard, email, whatever). Think of how often you've used g++, make, etc. - ever sent those guys an email to say thanks? you should.

How about Open Destination Payment/Comment server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1478983)

How about making a Open Destination Payment/Praise/Comment server.

Basically make it easier for anyone to pay/comment directly to members. Members can of course pay other members (or maybe themselves, but uh what for?).

There needs to be authentication of course, but I'm sure that can be solved.
more about this on: 6220&cid=45



Re:Lost Now Found (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1478984)

Ran out of email addresses? I just re-register with the same one like the expiration notice seems to imply... When VMware is fast enough to be usefull for the software I run, then I may buy it...

Re:You forgot what "free" means. :P (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1478985)

Another free speech asshole. Fine, while you are rebooting, I am using VMWare. Maybe one day when you get out in the real world, you will work for free, but I doubt it.

Re:Lawsuit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1478986)

I don't think that freemware will have to worry about about lawsuits, for they do not intend to do things in the same way that VMware does due to extreme security risks. If you look into the history of virtual machine code you will find it dates back to quite some time before VMware started this project.

Re:Partitioning? (2)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478987)

When I tried the trial version of a relatively recent VMware a couple months ago, it recognized a pre-existing Windows partition just fine, with the caveat that it had to redetect all the system hardware under Linux, which took a while. I ended up removing it because it ran too slowly and I didn't have the time, effort, or skill to spare to hack around with it and figure out how to find my VMware arse with both hands, so to speak. Maybe FreeMWare would be different. I dunno; maybe I'll fool around with it once it gets finished someday.

I can't help but think, however, that this sort of thing casts a bad light upon the OSS/Free Software community. Some entrepreneur out there has a great commercial idea, and what's the first thing the OSS/FS people do? They rip it off! Wasn't this precisely the sort of thing patents were intended to prevent? What happens if the VMWare people have/get a patent on their program?

Re:Related matters ... forward/backward links (2)

pb (1020) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478988)

Lemme look. Yep, here it is. []

Don't go bashing them too much, that was pretty easy to find with the "Search" function. Usually they try to put related links in that extra box at the top, next to the story. CmdrTaco's take on reposting old stories (by mistake, this one wasn't a mistake, just an issue that Roblimo thought should be discussed again, maybe too soon...) is that there are too many stories and submissions to wade through (His estimate in Thoughts From The Furnace [] was around 9000)

However, if a simple search function to find old articles about the (exact) same topic before posting a new one was implemented correctly, it would be very nice. It would eliminate all of the "Didn't we already see this on Slashdot" posts, as you were saying, it could add a link to the archived version going to the new article if needed, and definitely add a link to the new article back to the old one, to let people know that we are discussing this again for a reason. And it would eliminate all posts like your own, because the problem would be solved, the new feature added, and everyone would be happy. Except for the dude who had to implement it (but he'll probably be inordinately proud of it once he's done, so that's okay). :)
pb Reply or e-mail rather than vaguely moderate [] .

Re:What's wrong with you people (1)

soulhuntre (52742) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478989)

"I gotta admit, the whole 'It's gotta be free!' thing bothers me a bit. I personally like the idea of giving your software away and paying for support. The people get free software, the companies gets people who love to code to fix their stuff and corperations have somebody to turn to when it's broken. "

Sorry, I don't see it. It seems to me that paying for support for free software is exactly the wrong economic incentive to create software >I

The company in question profits almost completely by releasing a buggy, badly documented product.

Re:Minumun machice specs? (1)

RelliK (4466) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478990)

I have AMD K6/2-300, 64MB RAM. Probably the best thing I can say about VMWare is that it works. Just barely. I don't know if it's optimized for intel or someting, but it is *much* slower then my old 486dx4-100.

VMWare certainly has a lot of potential, but right now it is just too slow to be usable. At least with my current hardware.

Re:Why bother? (correction) (1)

mce (509) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478994)

Grrr. I wanted to also express that this IPO letter business as such isn't all that important to me, and so I added the "(un)" bit. Unfortunately, it escaped me until after I submitted the post that this makes the sentence ambiguous. So for clarity: I did recieve the letter (and it won't have been for advocacy).

PS: No need to go on flaming. I'm off to other activities now, and by the time I'll get back this whole thread will be history.


A better name? (3)

alkali (28338) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478995)

While I don't have any idea whether it's technically a trademark violation, I wish the developers had chosen a name that wasn't simply a variation on VMWare. "FreeMWare" is currently a misleading name in that it suggests that it can do everything that VMWare can do -- which I understand is not presently the case. And even if it could, the name itself suggests an unnecessary hostility to the existence of a commercial product. Names are free; there's no reason not to pick something original.

Related matters ... forward/backward links (1)

LL (20038) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478996)

Wasn't this topic discussed, oh, about a year ago and the /. community thrashed the concept about? Perhaps it's symptomatic of episoidal topics that get recycled every season or so (or a reflection of the continual growth of the /. readership) but perhaps it would be wise to include in the related links a link to the last closely relevant discussion (threshold=4) so that discussion can continue off the higher base rather than going through a process of reeducating as to the background. Also why not have a link to any forward (ie future) discussion as well? For people with limited time as any long-timer here is likely to be flatout employed on mission critical tasks (or burnt out) so short-circuiting the normal flamers and lamers and thus would get to the meat of the discussion more quickly. It would also give a better historical/future record of the crosslinked discussion thread allowing less informed souls to realise and hopefully appreciate the momentum of the topic. We get so caught up with day-to-day emergencies that often we don't appreciate that solutions have been thought out previously or smarter minds hae already considered the problem. /. is more than a newspaper or e-journal and it behooves the editors (and the pocketbooks of the onwers) to make /. a unique and distinctive experience.


Oh yeah... (1)

whoop (194) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478997)

This reminds me of posts I've seen on Tivo-related newsgroups/websites/etc. A small group of people sit back and demand every little feature under the sun, just because they are a "commercial" company. Like every commercial company has MS's resources. :)

At least once a week someone posts on the Tivo newsgroup, "I refuse to buy one until it supports every bizwang feature of my brand X satellite box, and has firewire port for my digital video camera, and can connect to my PC and do every video-editing feature there can possibly be, and record from a minimum of five sources at once, and make me a bowl of ice cream when South Park airs, and change my car's oil exactly every 3000 miles, and allow me to open it up and do anything I want, and put bigger hard drives in it. Oh, and $500 is too much, lower the price. OR I WON'T BUY IT! ARRRGGGGGGGH." (like these people ever intend to buy it).

Tivo/VMware are good products right now, if that's what you need. $100 for VMware isn't an extreme amount of money. Hell, your average Linux sys admin can pull in that much in an hour or two of work.

That's not to take away from Freemware, or any open source project. But likewise, don't sit back and bitch/moan because it doesn't have X feature if you're not willing to put a little into it.

Voice of Reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1478998)

Sir, You make far too much sense. The all free software all the time cult will be visting you. They are borg on earth. It is interesting that Gates has the Borg decoration, but the way these people worship Stallman, perhaps, the GNU symbol should have it.

Essential division. (5)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 14 years ago | (#1478999)

This sort of development is a line of demarcation between those who like Linux because, like the BSDs and Hurd, it's Free and Open, and those who just like Linux as the "alternative operating system of the day," like OS/2 and BeOS and AmigaOS were/are.

I'm a member of the former; I'm glad that there's a Free VMWare-like solution. I'm not so religious that I would never buy commercial software - I do and will - but I will always prefer a Free option, even if paying for media and documentation (money isn't a big issue for me.)

This DOES put Linux ISVs in an awkward position, but I'm afraid that's really their problem - I hope to see the day that the idea of paying for software is as archaic as the idea of paying for buggy whips. I'm not doing this to make ISVs rich.

I have a concern, in fact, about the growing success of Linux. If two people are doing something for Free because they enjoy doing it, they will usually work pretty hard and do a good job of it. If both of them are getting paid well for it, nothing changes except - perhaps - things might happen more quickly. BUT if ONE is getting paid and the other isn't, I suspect that the latter *might* say "screw this, I'm getting out of here." I'm nervous about what the move to funded development by groups like Mozilla, VALinux, and RedHat might do to the people who were developing on their own dime - and when the IPOs pay off and we get our first cash-in-hand Free Software multimillionaires, how will that affect the people who *aren't?*

You don't have to do partitioning using VMWare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1479001)

I use VMWare 1.2 for linux, and I can use my existing partitions. I just start the VM and up comes my BE Bootmanager, where I easily can start my Windows 98. I just made two hardware configurations from within the control panel.
Works great ...

'BE the difference that makes a difference' - JEWEL

Re:A better name? (2)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 14 years ago | (#1479004)

Heh. What's a "freem" anyway? Netware, software, hardware, wetware, vaporware, trialware, shareware, freeware, and now this mysterious "freemware."

Tell me -- it is made with real freems?

Re:A better name? (1)

whoop (194) | more than 14 years ago | (#1479006)

Variety in names seem too hard to come by in many free software projects. Gnome/KDE apps all stick a "g" or "k" in front of a simple name, or twist things around their non-free counterpart, GPG, CSSC, etc. Now people, come up with better names! FreeMWare is a blatant plug of VMware, can't we be a little more creative? Harmony, being the same sort of project, at least didn't pick Tq for a name. Or, imagine if every FPS were named Doom, Doomed, Doomie, BoomDoom, DoomBoom, Room, Toom, Doom-a-ding-dong.

Re:Minumun machice specs? (1)

strredwolf (532) | more than 14 years ago | (#1479013)

I have a 200MHz Pentium MMX system with 64 megs of ram, and it ran VMWare fairly well with their drivers and an old XFree86.

Unfortunately, some of us don't have the money for such a program, so I'm stuck with Bochs or FreeMWare.

Another non-functioning site was "" The purpose of that site was not known. -- MSNBC 10-26-1999 on MS crack

Re:Free? (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 14 years ago | (#1479014)

One thing particularly interesting to note about FreeMWare is that the project probably would not exist if it were not for the fact that VMWare is a competitor to Lawton's non-free x86 emulator, Bochs.

If Lawton want's to make a useful contribution to free software, instead of trying to clone an innovative and inexpensive commercial product (VMWare is only $99 for personal use), perhaps he could release Bochs under an Open Source license first, to show his sincerity.

FreeMWare is just the kind of project, from a technical point of view, I'd love to work on (and I've had some experience in that area, so could contribute usefully). However, I'd feel like an asshole doing so, and so won't.

VMWare vs. FreeMWare... (5)

pb (1020) | more than 14 years ago | (#1479015)

I've used VMWare, and it does an excellent job of emulating an x86 environment, with better compatibility than Wine, DOSEmu, or just about anything else. That's impressive.

However, for whatever reason, it needs a lot more RAM. It has to physically allocate however much RAM you tell it to use for the emulated OS, in my case 32MB for Win '98, and then it uses at least another 8MB for its devices and itself, and somewhere in there my 64MB K6/300 decides that it hates life and gets really slow... That's why they recommend at least 128MB RAM. DOSEmu, by contrast, never uses as much RAM as I tell it it can use unless it absolutely has to. Usually I give it 8MB, but when I wanted to run Callus, I gave it 20MB. Worked great, except for lacking sound. Wine generally uses 4MB above and beyond the memory usage of the Windows app, in my experience. (these numbers are all pretty rough, if you've tested this more, please post some results)

Also, I didn't like it that VMWare didn't support more options for an x86 drive. I have a lot of ext2 partitions that I use for my DOS stuff, and DOSEmu and Wine deal with that just fine. I guess I could make some native FAT partitions, but those things are nasty. And compressed drives really are a hack, but I might do that again instead. So I've got a big file where VMWare keeps its 'OS'.

And, when all is said and done, what good is it? Well, I've found that I don't really have much of a use for Win '98, and I can run a lot of other stuff with DOSEmu or Wine. Just about the only thing I'd want VMWare for would be displaying videos with proprietary, unsupported codecs, since XAnim is missing a lot of them and the companies are pretty lame about it.

So why would I want FreeMWare? Well, to play around with it. To be able to compile it with my compiler optimizations and see how it runs. (even if the VMWare team does something like this... well, I don't know about it, and I can't test it)

To see if someone hacks in ext2 support or some kind of generic drive emulation that works well. (have the IDE/SCSI faking area, or use Linux's SCSI faking, and then have the actual drive, whether it's a disk file, a FAT partition, a DOSEmu drive, a VMWare drive, or an ext2 partition...)

I'd like to see it without the weird video corruption I get with VMWare (although my video card does suck :).

And then I'll have to test out how the native sound works in DOS, that's a must for my DOS games. And then benchmark against DOSEmu. :)

Of course, first I'd like to know how it's doing now. Has anyone built the source from CVS? I normally just download the releases, but the warning on this one indicated it was anything but stable.
pb Reply or e-mail rather than vaguely moderate [] .

Re:Why bother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1479016)

Well, I have no problem with paying for software that I like and use and I don't want to discourage the WMWare team to continue developing their product. In fact, I've been thinking about buying it, but decided that I wanted an additional "experiment" computer instead, even if that's a more costly sollution.

However, I do have trouble with proprietary software, no matter if it's free (a la beer), shareware or commercial. To explain why I better go back to the beginning of the 90's:

Back then I was using Atari computers (first ST, then STE and finally a Falcon) and so were most of my friends. We learned them well, got quite fond of the way they worked and got used to the programs available on them. Like all other people using computers we started to rely on them and their programs. I started to rely on 1st Word Plus and Calamus to do all the text processing I needed. I relied on Freeze Dried Terminal to connect to BBSes. I relied on GFA Basic, Devpac and STOS to write every kind of program I needed and I relied on Degas Elite and Neochrome Master to make graphics and loads of other programs to do all those small things you need to do. Back then I was happy with that, after years of using the same programs (although in increasingly improved versions) I could get all the work I needed done very quickly and easily. I started to get really fond of them, in the same way as you get fond of a car that you've driven thousands of miles or a house you've lived in for many years.

There was just one problem: Atari wasn't developing new computers fast enough to stay ahead of the PC's. This could have been solved by third parties starting to develop Atari Clones, but that wasn't possible since the TOS and GEM (the OS and User Interface) was Atari's property. In the end Atari did license this software to third parties, but then it was allready to late to make a difference.

I had to switch to a PC running DOS/Windows 3.11. I had to drop all the programs I had gotten used to on the Atari and learn a lot of cryptic and userunfriendly DOS software to get everything done (I was used to a consistent, userfriendly GUI). As you can guess I wasn't especially fond of that development.

Then Windows'95 came along and I could finally start to use my computer in a way that resembled what I was used to on my Atari. Things improved, but I could still not run some of the old Atari programs I prefered. It didn't matter if it was freeware, shareware or commercial applications, it was all closed source so neither me nor other old Atari users could port them to Windows. I simply had to keep on using old DOS and Win 3.11 programs that I didn't like for more than a year until some good Windows'95 programs came along that worked the way I wanted. After about two years I once again had all the programs I craved for to do my work in a way that I liked and I once again felt really comfortable in front of my computer.

Then I decided to switch to Linux (I was more or less forced to do it, for reasons I won't bother you with) for almost a year ago and went through it all again. None of the tools I used on the PC were available (except Netscape) and I had to relearn everything ONCE AGAIN! :(

Now almost a year has passed and I've finally learnt to use nearly all the tools that I need. Finally I feel comfortable in my new desktop environment (KDE), but I've learnt my lesson. Proprietary programs are just temporary sollutions. Something will sooner or later happen that will force me to change to another program and relearn. Either the program will be discontinued, the producer go bancrupt or being bought up by a competitor or the developer won't fix a bug/implement a featuer that I'll need and could have fixed myself if I had the source.

And if none of these bad predictions comes true I'll still be depending on the developer for new versions, bugfixes etc and he can, at his own discretion, decide to develop the product in a direction that I don't like, change his price etc. and I won't be able to do anything about it.

Hopefully this change to Linux and Free Software will be the last major change I'll ever have to do. I've been playing around with the thought to try FreeBSD or BeOS instead since there still are things I don't like with Linux. And guess what? For the first time it doesn't feel like a big terrible step, because I know that I'll still be able to use the bulk of my most important programs under those environments. GCC, The Gimp, Mozilla, Perl and AbiWord have all been ported to both FreeBSD and BeOS.

Now I guess you understand better why *I* think that it's very important that software I use is free and I don't think my story is that different from many other supporters of free software. Many people have been burnt from being dependent on non-free software.

This freedom, not being dependent on the original author, is the most important thing about free software for me. The fact that it normally comes free of charge and provides for a more efficient development model is just icing on the cake.

But still I can decide to start using a closed source product or pay for a commercial product if I think it will help me (or be of fun, like a game), but I do so a bit more reluctantly, knowing that I indirectly sell a little bit of my freedom and that it might come back later to haunt me.


Advantages and disadvantages (1)

duder (86761) | more than 14 years ago | (#1479017)

Well the advantages of such a project are:
  1. A virtual machine can be developed a lot quicker than a system emulator for a closed OS (i.e. Windows).
  2. The list of supported application are going to be a lot larger than most closed source emulators.

And some disadvantages are:
  1. A virtual machine still requires a copy of the desired OS. This is not important if you want to run run a virtual FreeBSD but if you want to run a closed source os then you have to still pay for it.
  2. This virtual machine idea has proven to be slow whereas a good system emulator is as fast as the original OS.

I am sure there are more advantages and disadvantages but I could not list them all.

Re:Free? (1)

bgreenlee (66997) | more than 14 years ago | (#1479019)

I agree with Issue9mm. If you've invested a lot of time, and possibly money, developing a product that others find useful, then you shouldn't be castigated for charging for that product. If you decide to be generous and make it free/Open Source, then that's your prerogative. It doesn't make you evil if you don't.

[We use VMWare at work, and pay for all our licenses. We use it because all of the developers are on Linux and sometimes we have do testing in Windows, and it's a lot easier to fire up VMWare than it is to move to another machine.]

Re:Some reasons to BUY software... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1479020)

Exactly! I am so frustrated to hear all the guys on this forum saying "I got no $100 to pay for this cool stuff". I bet my ass most of them (I said _most_) waste more on beer/girls/games/etc.

Finally most of us will work in one of the most highly paid industries in the world, where one hour of work will be easily billed as $100.
I accept argument that it's not OSS, but then again, shut the f?ck up and go hack the code to bring this program free for all sooner, rather then whining here.

The reason why FMW is not getting attention... (1)

oblom (105) | more than 14 years ago | (#1479023)

is because they are too young. From README:

This code is extremely experimental, and will likely result in a system crash, and who knows what other ill effects.

How many regular users will even try to compile this program?

You have to understand that Linux has gone mainstream already. This means that free software developers are no longer the majority of its user base. Most people have a need for a working product now, as in "right this minute". Since VMWare is free, as in beer, their needs are satisfied. Of course they wouldn't mind having an open source alternative as well, but this comes only as an afterthought.

The remaining group of open source software developers don't focus as much attention of this project because many of them think: "Well, at least for now users have VMWare which doesn't cost an arm and leg. I can turn my attention to some other major products that have no working counterparts for Linux. Maybe later I'll help FMW".

The preceding statements are my speculations only.

Re:What's wrong with you people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1479024)

It will happen. And then again people like you will cry loud how well OSS worked out yet again. What did YOU do to bring Mozilla 1 days closer to it's release date?
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