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I was wondering if there was another free piece of software that would be able to load VMware images as well as offer the same or similar feature called shared VMS present in VMware workstation in which one computer can host multiple VMWare images provided it has the hardware to support while clients may connect to this host and interface with the VMS which would work best over lan for obvious reasons. Think of it as a remote desktop session or vnc.

If you're curious of the reason why I need freeware that'll do this is because of a national competition called CyberPatriot where you're essentially given VMware images that needs to be security-hardened as much as possible in a timely manner. They highly recommend the use of VMWare player on separate computers. However, the problem comes in when we load them onto school laptops that have absolutely crap hardware and they lag all over the place when we try to do stuff on the VM. I am able to bring 1 beast machine (with vmware workstation) capable of hosting at least 3 VMS simultaneously and ha e people able to connect to it over a high-performance LAN with low internet bandwidth. However, the rules specify that the software used in CyberPatriot must be FREEWARE taking VMware workstation out of the picture.

It all boils down to this software features that I need

  • Freeware
  • Able to load VMWare images
  • Able to host multiple images simultaneously on a server and have clients connect to it to be able to remote desktop it basically.

"Is it possible for you to get an exemption specifically for that kind of situation? Or actually depending on the exact rules, for something like that a lot of software companies might be willing to offer you a personal/organization licence that might qualify with the rules" - Nick Wilde

In reply: No, it's not possible. The rules specifically state that ANY software used in the competition must be FREEWARE so I need to find an alternative. I am also fairly certain that an exception cannot be made here. If we need a license to use the software, it is not freeware.

  • Is it possible for you to get an exemption specifically for that kind of situation? Or actually depending on the exact rules, for something like that a lot of software companies might be willing to offer you a personal/organization licence that might qualify with the rules. – Nick Wilde Jun 18 '14 at 1:02
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Virtualbox does all of these things - Its freeware/open source (useful addons are also free, but under a different licence - the PUEL), can import vmware VMs, run multiple VMs, and give you access over fairly standard RDP.

For your needs its probably good enough (I use it for my own VMs, though the specific advantage it has, other than cost dosen't count for your own needs). As far as performance/features/price goes, its unbeatable - there arn't all that many VM options, few are free, and most have other issues, and may only be superior under specific conditions (for example KVM and its ilk need a linux host, QEMU is slow though it can run *other architectures) and so on.

  • That's the best. I don't see what has VMWare in addition. – Vinz243 Jun 18 '14 at 8:53
  • Usually I'd ask you to add your "personal experiences" with the recommended software (see read our discussion on what makes an answer high quality). Upvoted instead :) @Vinz243 Maybe I' ve missed that, but didn't VMWare support "seamless windows"? – Izzy Jun 18 '14 at 9:15
  • I don't understand what you mean by seamless – Vinz243 Jun 18 '14 at 9:17
  • Example: Your host runs Linux, your VM Windows. In your VM you start Photoshop. The Photoshop window appears on your Linux Desktop, as if it where started from there. I.e.: The "guest" seems to be completely integrated into the host, not "put inside a box". Even the "starter" (so you might have two "bars" on your desktop: one from your host, one from the guest, as if both systems would run simultaneously). – Izzy Jun 18 '14 at 9:20
  • Uh-oh. I messed up. The other way around seems true: Creating a Windows XP guest in VirtualBox for Linux. My example holds, but it's VirtualBox supporting this… See this picture, fits my example in every way (except it doesn't show Photoshop). – Izzy Jun 18 '14 at 9:26
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Check out QEMU, it can take advantage of hardware acceleration to achive near-native performance (your CPU must of course support it), its qemu-img command should be able to convert your existing vmdk image into something QEMU understands (qcow2 or plain old raw image).

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