5 Essential Free VMware Appliances

Did you know that you can download FREE, already configured servers from the Internet, then run them on your Windows XP/2003 or Linux VMware computer? These servers can do some amazing things, they are free, and they can be up and running in minutes. Let’s find out how…

What do I need to get started?

To use one of these VMware appliances, you will need to download and install either VMware Server or VMware Player. Both of these are free. VMware Player, of course, will only allow you to “play” a virtual machine, not edit its configuration or create new virtual machines.

Also, keep in mind that every virtual machine you run will take resources away from your host system. This is especially true when it comes to RAM. Memory is the most crucial resource on a system that is hosting virtual machines.

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What do I need to know about these Virtual Appliances?

There are a few things you should know about these virtual appliances. First off, let’s cover the benefits:

  • These are complete pre-built servers. That means that the OS and applications already installed and ready for use.
  • Once these servers are opened with VMware Server or Player, you can instantly “turn them on” and use them. Installing a new server and enterprise application doesn’t get any easier than that!
  • These Virtual appliances are a great way to demo or test applications. When you are done using it, just delete the virtual disk and the server & application are gone. Or, if you like the application, you can move the whole appliances to a production server.

At this point, you might be asking where you can obtain these virtual appliances. The VMware Virtual Appliance Marketplace the best single source I have seen to obtain virtual appliances. The popularity of this database has been amazing. Many vendors and users have contributed their application or their customized appliances.

You should also know that there are Certified Appliances and non-certified. The certified appliances are from software companies that want to demo their software solution and where their appliances has passed a level of testing to ensure it will function and be secure. When other individuals or vendors contribute their appliances, these appliances are non-certified but still may be very useful appliances.

What are the Top 5 Appliances I should download today?

  1. Openfiler – a powerful browser based Network Attached Storage appliance. It runs on top of CentOS Linux and supports iSCSI, SMB, NFS, FTP, and other file transfer protocols. You can download the Openfiler NAS appliance here. Openfiler is a free open-source application.
  2. Nagios – an excellent free open-source network monitoring application using the Groundwork open source network monitor, MySQL, and Suse Linux. You can find the virtual appliance for Nagios here.
  3. Cacti – a network performance graphing system. This virtual appliance also offers other applications like syslog and SNMP. You can download the free Cacti appliance at this link.
  4. Fedora Linux – why wait to download it and install it when you can download it “already installed” at this link?
  5. Exchange 2007, others – Microsoft offers a number of virtual machines that can be downloaded from the Internet. While these are designed to run on MS Virtual Server, once downloaded, these can be imported into VMware. For more information on this, checkout our article on how to Download Exchange 2007 Virtual Machines.

Keep in mind that there may be multiple versions of these virtual appliances due to how many people can contribute their appliance. To search for virtual appliances or see all virtual appliances, go to the Virtual Appliance Marketplace All Server directory.

Trying to list just 5 of the best appliances is next to impossible because there are so many valuable appliances out there. In fact, there are over 280 appliances available for download from the Virtual Appliance Marketplace – I suggest you check it out for yourself!


In summary, VMware appliances are FREE, already configured virtual servers that you can download FREE from the Internet. You can run them on your Windows XP/2003 or Linux VMware computer. These servers can do some amazing things, they can be up and running in minutes, and they are a great way to test new new applications. Checkout the Virtual Appliance Marketplace All Server directory today!

Got a question? Post it on our VMware Forums!

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