Running WinXP Pro in a Virtual Machine under Ubuntu
I like running Ubuntu but there are certain Windows applications that I cannot do without. Dual booting works but it is not so convenient. So operating Win XP in a virtual machine under Linux seemed worth the try. The main apllication I am interested in is Quicken. I tried installing Quicken under WINE but had problems. Perhaps someday my version of Quicken will work under WINE, but until then, VMware seems to work well. Running Quicken under VMware is noticeably slower but not annoying so. There seem to be many ways to increase performance. Installation was a little tedious but it is working. I decided to benchmark Win XP in VMware and compare performance to Win XP running on its own partition. In this way I have a method of measuring performance as I try out some 'improvements'.
HOST: Ubuntu 8.10 Kernel 2.6.27-7-generic GNOME 2.24.1
GUEST: WinXP Pro with SP3
VMware 2.5.0 build-122581
Gigabyte MoBo GA-G31M-ES2L
Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU E4500 @ 2.20GHz
GeForce FX 5200 with Dual Monitors each 1440x900
4096 MB System RAM
At first I tried VMware Player but I had troubles. After Googling the problem, I found that more people had success using VM Server 2. The VM Server 2 tar can be dowloaded from vmware.com. For installation I found the following 3 resources very helpful.
Ubuntu Documentation VMwareServer
How To Install VMware Server 2 On Ubuntu 8.10 from HOWtoForge
VMware Server Manual
I used Novabench2 to benchmark Win XP. I tried runing this benchmark under WINE, but unfortunately I could not get it to operate correctly. There are many choices for benchmarking but sometimes you have give up searching and use what works and move on. If anyone knows of a benchmark that runs under WINE, let me know. The chart below summarizes the results. As expected when Win XP is the booted operating system the results are better.
|VMware||Win XP Pro SP3||% Difference|
|Overall NovaBench Score||193||255||-24.3|
|System Memory (Gb)||2||4||-50.0|
|System RAM R/W||81||112||-27.7|
|Overall CPU Test||81||97||-16.5|
|Floating Point (Operations/sec)||41421115||39840496||+4.0|
|MD5 Hashes (Gerenerated/sec)||23232||60628||-61.7|
|Overall Graphic Test||25||18||+38.9|
|Random Lines (Drawn/sec)||8973||9355||-4.1|
|Random Shapes (Drawn/sec)||6766||2250||+200.7|
|Overall Hardware Test||6||28||-78.6|
|Primary Partition Capacity (Gb)||10||117||-91.1|
|Hard Drive Write Speed (MB/s)||5.52||20.74||-73.4|
|Upload Speed (Kbps)||491||494||-0.4|
|Dowload Speed (Kbps)||4918||4894||+0.5|
Novabench2 has some overall performance summaries for various subsystems that are highlighted in yellow. Overall Win Xp performance under VMware is 24.3% less. Some of this can be explained by access to less memory. Booted Win XP has the full 4 Gb while VMware must share with Ubuntu with only 2 Gb. I am not sure why R/W to system RAM should be slower but it is 27.7% slower. The CPU tests evaluate number crunching ability. Surprisingly, floating point operations with Win XP under VMware is 4% faster. It was also unexpected that VMware performed the graphic tests faster. After some thought it was obvious why. Booted Win XP is driving dual monitors while VMware drives only 1 window on one monitor. VMware has much fewer pixels to test and the window is contained in only one video buffer. When I drag the VMware window so it straddles 2 monitors and then run the benchmark I get slower performance results. I am more than happy operating Win XP in a window and reaping the speedier graphics performance. Overall hardware tests are rated at 78.6% lower. This is stilted by the primary partition capacity parameter. I only allocated 10 Gb to VMware and that is all I need. Hard drive writes are 78.6% slower. Given the applications I am running, this is not noticeable. Internet access speeds seem about the same under VMware.
I can now use Linux and all my applications without the need to reboot. I find the performance of Win XP under VMware acceptable. Of course there is always room for improvement. The VMware Server Manual has many suggestions for speeding up Win XP under Ubuntu. I can now try these changes out and then measure the results. I am also sure that there are plenty of other advice available from the net. Later I will post the top 5 improvements that I find.