Is VMware Player Faster than VMware Server?

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I've been a VMware Player user since it was first released, but I recently decided to switch to VMware Server when I found out that it supports dual processors and snapshots. To my dismay I frequently experienced mouse lag, slow graphics, and keyboard sticking. Switching back to VMware Player resolved my issues and was noticeably faster. Has anyone else seen a performance difference between the two?

My Experiences

I ran both VMware apps from a laptop running Windows XP Professional and a screen resolution of 1440x900. My processor is a Core Duo. Both Player and Server installations are using the latest versions from VMware's website.

The guest is running Kubuntu Feisty.

My first attempts using VMware Server were without any modification to the guest OS. That was when I first noticed slower performance that what I was used to. My next step was to install VMware Tools. Unfortunately, I didn't see any improvement.

Typical problems I encountered were a general studdering that was slight but noticeable; slow response when graphics activity was happening; and multiple key presses being registered when there should have been just one. A good example of the graphics problem was going to the logout menu. The screen starts graying from top to bottom and really bogs the system down.

When I switched back to VMware Player all of these problems disappeared and I couldn't even tell I was running in a virtualized environment for most day-to-day use.


Can I conclude that VMware Player is faster? Maybe, but I'm not comfortable with that conclusion because it doesn't make sense and I only tested on a single system. It's possible that further testing would reveal the problem and a solution, but since I wasn't having any success with virtual SMP support anyway I'm going to stick with what works and move on.

Has anyone else experienced similar behaviors?

Yes, VMware Player will be faster for interactive use cases

Hi, I'm a developer at VMware. It's not surprising that you're finding that VMware Player is faster than VMware Server. When you use VMware Server on Windows, interactive traffic (graphics, keyboard/mouse) uses our remote display path, even when you run the server console on the same machine as the client. This is part of what allows you to "detach" the console and run the VM in what we call "headless" mode. You can also run multiple consoles on separate machines and point them at the same VM at the same time.

The primary and intended use case for VMware Server is for running light production/test server environments and hence interactive graphics performance was not a priority; it's more important to us to make sure that it's possible to interact with the server remotely and to expose e.g. the scripting APIs and so on. That having been said, the next version of VMware Server should bring with it some improvements in graphics/interactive performance.

However, if you're primarily trying to run a Linux VM interactively e.g. in order to do some Linux development, or play around with a new Linux desktop release or whatever, then you should stick with VMware Player.

I'd also recommend you try out the latest version of VMware Workstation (6.0), although it is a for-pay product so that might deter you. Workstation brings with it some of the Server features like headless and remote display support, but also includes improved graphics and interactivity, for example the new ability to use multiple host monitors within your guest.

Good to know

Thanks for that. It's good to know I'm not totally crazy. The remote path makes sense given the usage model and the only other time I've experienced the keyboard sticking behavior was while using VNC.

Disk space problem with VM player

Hello Mr. RRDhran
I have some concern to u I m using VM player to run SUSE image with disk size 15 gb. Actually this disk space is not sufficent for my task. So i m always stuck in between the work.Can u give me any solution to solve the problem to increase size without rebooting the machine ?
Thanks in advance. Hope u will help me out.

Good comment, Thanks!!

Good comment, Thanks!!

Performance from hell

I've used Server and Player and and seeing problems that I just can't explain. Ubuntu 7.1 - 2GB of RAM and yet when I run the VM's (which have 1GB of RAM in their configuration) I never see more than about 150MB of RAM in use and the disk is thrashed to the point of performance akin to my old Floppy based CP/M system.

2 VMs means about 223MB of RAM in use and worse performance for each of the VM's. I have yet to figure out why anyone would WANT to do this virtualization stuff unless they just want to sit and watch the grass grow!

I'd try cutting back the

I'd try cutting back the VM's to 512MB of RAM each unless there is a reason to need more. With them set to 1GB that leaves no memory for the base system which could lead to the disk thrashing that you are experiencing.


On an Ubuntu host, VMware Server seems to be comparable in speed to Player. Just thought I'd note this for Linux users browsing Linuxappfinder; the usage of remote display transport even for a local display seems to only apply to Windows. I might be wrong...

Hello Mr rrdhran. Could u

Hello Mr rrdhran.
Could u please verify your answer more briefly.

Memory bug

Hi, I have the feeling that with my Notebook 2GB RAM VMware Player can at most use 1 GB. Had same problem under Windows 2k as now under fedora 10 as host. If I start a 3rd or 4th virtual maschine all get's slow and harddisk usage increases for nothing. Couldn't google a solution to this. Using VMware Player 2.51 for the moment. THX

Weird Test...

I am running Ubuntu (Wubi) and I am curious if, after installing VMWare Server, the possibility of installing, say, Windows Server 2003 inside VM? I admit it may seem a bit on the wild side, but being new to this, my imagination is running, well, wild. 8) Thanks for any input or insight.

You should be able to do

You should be able to do that since Wubi is a native install and not virtualized.


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