VMware Workstation 7 Arrives

Gotta get me this. The new version’s licensing lets you install on either a Linux or Windows host OS, but still only one at a time. Still, it’s nice to have the option of changing if you wish.

I suspected this was coming. About two months ago, VMware sent out an email blast offering Workstation 6.5 for half price which worked out to roughly $100 at the time. I passed on this because I didn’t want to buy it only to get stung with a new version that I’d immediately have to upgrade to just a short while later.

The new version is $190 and the price for upgrading is $100, so I guess I’ll have ended up saving $10 this way.

Virtually Instant Redmine

Those who know me well know well that I’m a virtualization aficionado. I was an early adopter of this technology going way back to Microsoft Virtual PC 2004. I think they bought this off someone who used it on the Mac, but whatever. I immediately became obsessed with this and have been preaching of and reaping its benefits since.

As a developer, I know how easy and painful it is to get your development environments intermixed and conflicting with one another. There’s nothing worse than returning to one client’s project only to find that a required COM object has been upgraded by another client’s project, causing code to not compile or, worse, break only when run on that client’s installations.

Virtualization offered me and my anal-retentive nature a satisfyingly elegant way of keeping things separate. I created a virtual development environment for each of my clients, and never again have I had problems like those mentioned previously.

Now that hardware has caught up with (and passed, in some cases) operating systems, I run a Core i7 workstation with 12GB of RAM and mammoth disks that allows me to have several multi-gigabyte virtual machines simultaneously. And they’re fast. People have long-criticized my virtual development approach, suggesting that I’m waiting for my inefficient virtual machines to do compiles and builds. But that’s hooey. I’ve run head to head tests and lengthy compiles are only marginally quicker on native hardware. Modern virtualization is remarkable efficient and the operating systems/software run very “close” to the native hardware with things like Intel’s VT technology and paravirtualization. Even in the “old days” of PC virtualization, tuning a virtual machine to run under more constrained hardware wasn’t terribly difficult.

Tonight offered a great example of how wonderful virtualization can be when you need to solve a problem. I wanted a project tracking system for one of my projects. We use Redmine at Transit for project tracking, a Ruby on Rails application that has the usual bells and whistles. I needed to get this up and running quickly, and figured I’d have to install Linux, MySQL, Apache, Ruby/Rubygems/Rails, and finally Redmine, but I happened across BitNami who offer a fully configured virtual appliance. I downloaded it (~300MB), opened it in VMware Workstation, and clicked run. In 30 seconds, I had my own Redmine server running on my network. This literally saved hours of installation and configuration.

Did I mention how much I love virtualization?

Google Calendar: Problem Redirecting?

For months now I have had problem with the calendar that’s part of my Google Apps for Domains account. In my webmail screen, when using Firefox (IE was fine) the calendar would simply say “Ooops! "Google Calendar" failed to load”, but the same version of Firefox at work had no such problem. When clicking the Calendar link, I would get an error saying that there was a “redirection problem detected”. Grrrr!

Some sites said to delete all your cookies. When I went to the Tools/Options/Privacy screen, I clicked “remove individual cookies” and entered “cal” into the search box. All results were for Google sites, and after deleting all five of these cookies, it works like a charm.

I am pretty sure I did something similar a while back, so I wonder if this won’t be a recurring problem.