Using Virtual Machine Manager

Emmett gives Red Hat's Virt-Manager high marks after taking it for a spin on Fedora 7. Here's a rundown of how to set it up on your own machine.

Red Hat has put a great deal of effort into Virtual Machine Manager (Virt-Manager), which is available for everything from RHEL 5.3 down to Fedora 6. I recently decided to install it on Fedora 7 and install another version within it.

My conclusion? I highly recommend playing with this tool if you need a good solution for running one operating system within another. Here's how to do it.

The first order of business is to install the package. This can be done by going to the command line and issuing the command "yum install virt-manager." When you're prompted about whether you want to continue (there are a total of 10 packages), enter "y." Then, to manage Xen virtual machines, use the command "yum install xen kernel-xen." Again, you'll have to type "y" after being told that two packages will be download and installed.

When this is done, you can start the Virtual Machine Manager by typing "virt-manager" at the command line, or by going through the menus (Applications - System Tools -- Virtual Machine Manager). This brings up the host summary window shown in Figure 1. You'll notice that it's empty at this point.

Figure 1
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Figure 1. The beginning interface for the Virtual Machine Manager.

Choose the File menu, and then New Machine. This starts the "Create a new virtual system" assistant that will walk you through the operation. Click on Forward. Next, you need to enter a name for the virtual system you want to add. You can use any text -- RHEL4, SUSE11 and so on. Then click Forward. At the next set of prompts, you need to enter the location of the installation media -- this can be local or remote -- and then (you guessed it) click Forward.

Choose where to install to -- this can be a disk partition or a virtual file -- and click Forward. You're almost done! Now, configure the memory and the maximum number of virtual CPUs the virtual machine will use (starting with 1 is always a good idea), and click Forward. The files will now install. You just have to walk through the operating system prompts within the dialog box to finish the installation.

Consider these three command buttons your best friends: Run, Pause and Shutdown. They're used for managing the virtual machine. From within this window, you can interact with the operating system as if it were on a standalone machine.

The Preferences options (Edit -- Preferences) shown in Figure 2 let you configure how often you want to view the update status. The default is one second (it can't go to real time) and you may need to increase this if you want to lessen the load. You should also set the View options to what you want to see -- domain ID, status, CPU usage, virtual CPUs, memory usage, disk usage or network traffic.

Figure 2
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Figure 2. Preferences allow you to configure the update status within the Virtual Machine Manager interface.

All in all, this is one of the nicest -- and most reasonably priced -- virtual machine interfaces around. I encourage you to install and tinker with the Virtual Machine Manager if you want to get more out of your hardware.

About the Author

Emmett Dulaney is the author of several books on Linux, Unix and certification, including the Security+ Study Guide, Fourth Edition. He can be reached at eadulaney@comcast.net.

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