Best Windows version to use in a VMWare Virtual Machine under Linux

Posted on 2005-04-12
Last Modified: 2013-11-15

I have a computer with these specifications:

Motherboard: Shuttle MS21 (integrated VGA+sound+LAN - sis chipset)
CPU: AMD Thunderbird 1400 Mhz
RAM: 512 MB
dual boot: 1) Windows 2000 SP3 2) Debian Linux

I run on this machine a Debian Linux (Woody - sources.list modifes to get all the latest "unstable" packages), ext3 filesystem, kernel

I would like to install VMWare and create a Windows Virtual Machine. I want to run on this virtual machine some games, for server/hosting purposes.

My priority is to run on this machine a Swat 4 Dedicated server, see this question:

Swat 4 Dedicated server is very unstable, at least on that machine on Windows 2000 Professional SP3. So very often Windows freezes and i have to manually restart the computer.

I would like to try a virtual machine, so in case the virtual machien freezes, I can still access linux and restart it remotely.

I already tried to run a Virtual Machine from the raw disk, without success, so now I want to try to install a Windows version under VMWare...

---   ---   ---

>>> My question is the following:

Considering my priority (Swat 4 dedicated server), what Windows version do you suggest me to try to install on VMWare, as virtual machine? Windows 2000 Professional, or Windows XP, or Windows XP SP2 integrated?

I reformulate the question.

Wht is the faster, more performant, more stable Windows version under VMWare?

I guess that if you answer, you already tested several Windows versions under VMWare so you already know which one is the best ;)

Thanks for letting me know.
Question by:firepol
    LVL 7

    Assisted Solution

    In theory the latest version (XP SP2) would be best.
    *However* VMware impliments little tweaks depending on which OS you are installing (hence you pick the OS at creation time).
    I would be minded to go for XP SP1. However, if you have access to Windows 2003 Server I would recommend that.
    LVL 2

    Author Comment

    I'm installing WinXP SP2, let's see if it works good. I'll let you know.

    Anyway, if I've well unsderstood, you are telling that Windows 2003 Server should be the best to use in a VM considering my goals?

    I will try to gt a Win2k3 Server edition for testing purposes ;)

    Thanks and cya
    LVL 4

    Accepted Solution

    Based on your specs of your box - a Server version would be woefully unable to perform using VmWare - except for NT4 Server, which is probably not what you have in mind.  The best overall Windows in a Virtual Box is Windows 95 - but again not what you are looking to do.  Your system simply does not have enough oomph to run a Server version of Windows in a Virtual State.  DirectX is the biggest culprit - it does not work well in a Virtual Box.  Before you try another version - just try the 2000 copy you have in a Virtual Box - XP takes up more resources than 2000 and you will see it is almost impossible to use.  If however your ultimate goal is to dual-boot your actual machine - then 2003 Server would be best.  

    You can obtain free 180-day evaluation from  Microsoft here:
    LVL 2

    Author Comment

    I've just installed Windows 2000 Professional SP3 integrated.

    I installed Swat 4, I didn't install the DirectX when I was prompted to. I runned Swat4DedicatedServer.exe and it worked!

    From my gaming PC i connected to the Swat 4 Server situated on my other's PC, ad played with 2 other guys. The first thing i noticed is that movements are "wrappy" sometimes. It was playable, but not perfectly. Anyway, it's a good result if you think at my box specifications.

    As i have another partition to make some tests, I'll install Windows 2003 Server, just to see if it will or will not crash like Windows 2000 Pofessional.

    I noticed that vmware was only taking 55% of the CPU. I will try to play with some commands such as "renice" to see if it makes a difference, and try to get rid of all the useless processes inside Win2k.

    By the way, i was running tightvnc server, i connected to tightvnc and runned vmware from the tight vnc virtual display instead of running it from the "physical" pc display. I'll try to physically login to the computer and run vmware from there...

    I don't have useless processes, only "arts". I'm using fluxbox, which is not eating too much CPU, isn't it? If you know a window manager eating less CPU than fluxbox, I'll try it ;)

    Thanks again for your suggestions, if you have any (under linux and under windows) to improve the performance. I'll increase the points if you give me some useful hints.
    LVL 4

    Assisted Solution

    You will find 2003 Server to be free of most useless processes.  It is actually Windows XP Professional - tweaked to be a Server.  It being from the NT family it is closer with the tweaks to NT4 Server than any other version.  When running your Virtual Server eliminate explorer by hitting ctrl-alt-delete (or the combination that I cannot think off the top of my head for VmWare) and stop the explorer.exe process after everything up and running.  Saves a bundle of CPU time.
    LVL 4

    Expert Comment

    Course you will not have a GUI - but you can always get into your running apps by using Task Manager (ctrl-alt-delete) and can bring up explorer shell again by just typing explorer in the run box.
    LVL 2

    Author Comment

    About VMware, I almost gave up.

    I think that my Thunderbird 1400 Mhz is not powerful enough to run smoothly a Windows 2000 from a Virtual Machine and the Swat 4 Dedicated Server.

    Thanks bobsanders653, I'll try also your trick, but I think it won't make a lot of difference, the problem is that VMware requires a lot of CPU power to emulate a virtual machine, and Swat 4 Dedicated server needs a lot fo CPU power in order to manage the players connections+moves in the loaded map...

    By the way, in my Windows 2000 SP3 I deactivated all the useless processes that were loaded by default. Following the Blackviper's guide at this site: (the site appears down but I could access the google cached version - thanks google).

    I'm actually installing Windows 2003 Server, I'm really curious to see its performance. Thanks so far for your help.
    LVL 2

    Author Comment

    Thanks for your help guys.

    Windows 2003 Server works perfectly. I removed several useless processes following the same guide (Blackviper). Windows 2003 is really a well done windows version, i like it, it's stable, i was able to run the swat4server all day and night. I had to shutdown the machine just because I didn't want to leave the server online 24h/24... but i could have done it. I didn't try it under the virtual machine, but installed in the first partition of my hard disk.

    About virtual machines, I suggest to use them if you have a powerful computer, like 2 Ghz CPU or more.

    I'm really wondering if Windows 2003 can also be used to play ;) as my swat 4 "client" gets lotf of crashes....

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