Some favorite tools I use in my VMware images when testing pplications on Windows

In my marketing job, it is surprisingly rare that I actually get my hands dirty with the software I promote. This week, I dove in head first on my VMware Fusion image and thought perhaps I’d share a couple tips with my geeky readers in terms of how I work in Fusion. I have been a Fusion user since pre-1.0 days and can recommend it strongly. I did try Parallels for Windows simulation but I appreciate the portability of the VMware images that I can build and share with both ESX and VMware Workstation users. One note of caution that I need to verify, VMs created with Fusion 4 are only compatible with Workstation 8.0. I think that simple changing a vmx variable may fix this but I’ll have to get back to you on that.

1/ Best Text Editor: Notepad++. It is free, it is extendible, and it is super rich in functions and features. I always keep open tabs on the major configuration files (or source code files) that I am iterating on and it remembers every time where it was when the program or VM is restarted. I know folks like UltraEdit, but it costs $$ and it is more for programming than application configuration

2/ Both tools from BareMetal Software: I have sworn by BareTail and BareGrep for years. They are excellent because they only do one thing, but they do it quick and effortlessly. With 10s of log files to track, opening them in tabs and even setting highlighting filters and such makes BareTail essential. BareGrep is so much faster than Windows Search in finding that pesky text squirreled away in that obscure config file you have been looking for. More proof of the code quality and completeness of these products: they are still both for sale but have not had a fix or new release since 2006! These both are worth the $35 to the guys that wrote them!

3/ The tools from SysInternals (aka Microsoft) are the most comprehensive diagnostic tools for looking at what Windows is really doing. My favorite is Process Explorer and it is very rare that I run anything in Windows without having ProcExp running as well. ProcMon is also excellent for looking at system calls and file access on a per-process basis. Autoruns is great to cleanup useless sponges of system resources…and the list goes on.

VisualVM is definitely the best Java tool out there. I am so happy that it is now included in the Java6 distribution because it (finally) brings together the best set of tools for garbage collection and performance analysis of Java into one UI. I love the VisualGC plugin and find it both intuitive and incredibly useful.

Also deserving of honorable mention here: Oracle Enterprise Manager, DUMeter, and WireShark.


About mfinocchiaro

IT Architecture Guru for large PLM software company but dabbling in Web 2.0 and other stuff.
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