Installing a guest operating system in a virtual machine is essentially the same as installing it on a physical computer.

General installation instructions for all VMware products documentation includes the following topics:


Before you begin, verify that the following tasks are complete:

  • Read General Guidelines for Supported Guests.
  • Create a virtual machine and ensure that its devices are setup correctly. For example, install networking software when you install the guest operating system, and configure and enable the Ethernet adapter for the virtual machine.
  • The tool or interface you used to configure the virtual machine depends on the VMware product you are running.
  • A new virtual machine is like a physical computer with a blank hard disk. Before you can use it, you must partition and format the virtual disk and install an operating system. The operating system installation program might handle the partitioning and formatting steps for you.
  • Disable screen savers that might be running on the host system before you install the guest operating system.

Typical Installation

The basic steps to install a typical operating system:

  1. Start your VMware product and connect to the virtual machine.
  2. Insert the installation CD-ROM or disc of the guest operating system in to the CD-ROM or disc drive connected to the virtual machine.
  3. Turn on your virtual machine by clicking Power On.
  4. Follow the instructions provided by the operating system vendor.
    As with physical computers, operating systems require separate licenses for each virtual machine that you run.
    Some Microsoft Windows OEM discs included with new computers are customized for those computers and include device drivers and other utilities specific to the hardware system. Even if you can install that Windows operating system on your physical computer, you might not be able to install it in a virtual machine. You might need to purchase a new copy of Windows to install in a virtual machine.
  5. Install VMware Tools.

ISO Installation

Rather than booting from a physical CD-ROM, you can create an ISO image file from the installation CD-ROM. You can store the ISO file on the host machine or on a network drive accessible from the host machine. Use the configuration tool for your VMware product to connect the virtual machine CD drive to the ISO image file, and turn on the virtual machine.

Using an ISO image file is convenient to install the same operating system in multiple virtual machines. It can also help you avoid a problem in host configurations, in which the virtual machine cannot boot from the installation CD-ROM.

PXE Installation

If you plan to use a PXE server to install the guest operating system over the network, you do not need the operating system installation media. When you turn on the virtual machine, the virtual machine detects the PXE server.

PXE booting is supported for guest operating systems that are listed in the VMware Guest Operating System Compatibility list and whose operating system vendor supports PXE booting of the operating system.

VMware Compatibility Guide

The VMware Compatibility Guide Web site lists supported guest and host operating systems and provides related support information.

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