VmWare Server for free

VmWare released their VmWare Server for free yesterday and I had the opportunity to test it today. I am familiar with the workstation version and the recently released free VmWare viewer which I use for a couple of development VMs but I hadn’t seen any server products yet. As I understand the new free VmWare server covers about the same functionality as the former product GSX Server. It looks like VmWare is trying to secure it’s market share before other opensource virtualization tools like Xen catch which will certainly happen as soon as virtualization support in the latest intel and amd processors can be used.

As for my experiments, I installed a VmWare Server on my debian linux box without any problems. The console installation script let me customize the install paths and vmware modules were compiled against my kernel-headers successfully. As client I installed the VmWare Server Console on Windows XP which looks similar to the workstation version with the ability to connect to a server (user authentication uses PAM against the linux users btw.). I created a new virtual machine with the console but copied the harddisk image from an exisiting virtual machine (using the old workstation virtual machine directly resulted in problems with sound configuration and other stuff). Very useful is the ability to use the cd/dvd drive on the client PC which can be accessed from within the VM running on the server.

I really like the ability to disconnect from the virtual machine which then keeps running on the server and reconnect later, but then again, thats what you expect of a server. As for the performance it’s definately slower than vmware on a standalone workstation but that is understandable considering the network connection. Using the windows remote access to connect to the server seems to be only slightly faster so I suppose it’s the overall speed of the virtual machine that’s limiting. Maybe the performance can be approved by tweaking some server settings, I’ll look into that.

To conclude, the free VmWare Server is a useful tool to have and it’s apparent that it is a mature product but it could be improved performance wise.

Windows freeware for commercial use

When developing software at work you might be restricted to what software you can install and use. You might even work at a client’s computer where you don’t want to risk using trial versions for months and violate licenses. This is where Open Source software really pays off, it’s just free.
Unfortunately, when searching for free software you often find shareware applications or even worse, freeware for personal use only. That’s why I started compiling the following list that contains great freeware and open source apps that allow commercial use. (A link here is no guaranty that commercial use is granted. Licenses can change or I could have made a mistake – check the licenses and EULAs!)

Browser / Web



Text and XML-Editors

Diagnostics / System Utils



Media Player


  • FreeCommander Windows filemanager similar to Total Commander
  • XPlorer basically a windows explorer with tabs

CD/DVD Recording

Terminal / SSH / Remote-Control



Linux Tools / XWindows

  • Cygwin – a complete linux like environment, including shell, services and X.

Version Control

  • Subversion version control system, sucessor to CVS
  • TortoiseSVN windows client for subversion as explorer integration

Imaging / Graphics

Visualization / UML

  • ArgoUML Java Tool to create UML diagrams
  • StarUML Windows UML ß MDD Tool
  • FreeMind a free mind mapping software like Mindjet’s Mindmanager


Development Environments

  • Visual Studio Express Express Editions of MS Visual C++, C#, VB and SQL Server
  • PHP Designer 2006 PHP Development Environment (eula says personal use, but several forum posts say commercial use granted)


  • good image viewer with thumbnail view
  • a complete burning appliction (like Nero or K3B)
I realize that this list is far from complete – I basically started with apps I like to use or think they might be useful for me. Especially if you look for development tools there are a lot more useful apps out there – I deliberately neglected the whole field of java development tools, since most of them are already commercially usable.
This list will be updated whenever I find new apps – I would appreciate any suggestions you might have for additions to this list.