Setting up a Debian Linux VM in VMware

You will be doing development and testing on a Linux system. To make this easy to do in an isolated environment running on your own personal computer, you will create a virtual machine (VM) in which you will install Linux. This guide provides instructions for installing Debian Linux in a VMware VM. You will download and install VMware, create a VM using VMware, download Debian Linux, then install Debian Linux in your VM.

Download and Install VMware

Download and install the latest version of VMware's desktop hypervisor for your computer:

For VMware Workstation/Fusion Pro, install it as a 30-day trial for now. Registered students will receive VMware Workstation/Fusion Pro license in 2-3 weeks. You can then enter the license to remove the trial status.

VMware Fusion for Apple Silicon is not officially released yet, but the public beta is fully functional and more than adequate for our use.

Download Debian Linux

There are many GNU+Linux distributions, but we will use Debian. Debian is composed of free and open-source software and is one of the oldest operating systems based on the Linux kernel. It is the basis for many other distributions, most notably Ubuntu. The current stable distribution of Debian is version 11, codenamed bullseye.

Create a VM

Create a new virtual machine in VMware using the Debian ISO image you just downloaded. For example, on VMware Fusion, this can be done by selecting New from the File menu.

For the OS for the VM, choose Debian 11.x 64-bit if available. Depending on your platform, it may not be an option yet. In that case, choose Other Linux 5.x and later kernel 64-bit.

For the boot firmware, choose Legacy BIOS. If you are using an M1/M2 Mac, this option may not be available.

The default settings for memory and storage are probably too small. Customize your VM as follows:

Installing and Setting Up Debian

After configuring the VM, start the VM. The VM will now boot from its CD-ROM drive containing the Debian GNU/Linux install disk, which is virtually mapped to the ISO file that you downloaded. Use the "graphical installer" and follow the instructions provided here for configuring the settings you should use and setting up your Debian VM.

Using your Debian VM

Two tips you may find useful for using your VM include using SSH to connect to your VM, which you may find more convenient at times instead of using the graphical console, and setting up vim to do development in your VM.