Q On start up I want Ubuntu to start without the need for me to input a username and password and then open VMware and start a virtual machine. I know how to do all of these things manually, but is it possible for me to write a small batch file (if that's the right expression) to do it for me automatically?
A There are two steps here: logging in to your user's desktop automatically, and running a program after logging in. The first is achieved in Ubuntu 8.10 by selecting the option to automatically log your user in during installation. If you have an earlier Ubuntu or you have already installed 8.10, you can set this option by running System > Administration > Login Window, go to the Security tab, tick Enable Automatic Login and select the user you want logged in. Gnome will start any program you tell it to when it starts up. Go to System > Preferences > Sessions, press Add and type the command you want to run, along with a name and description. To start VMware Workstation with a particular virtual machine, use
vmware -X /path/to/virtualmachine.vmx
Where -X tells VMware to both start the virtual machine and switch to full-screen mode and the rest is the path to the .vmx file for the virtual machine. If you're using VMplayer, replace vmware with vmplayer in the above command. If you use VMware-server, you need to make sure that the server is running at startup (use the Ubuntu session manager for this), and then use vmrun to start the virtual machine.
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