VMware Workstation Snapshots

vmware snapshot manager

When you go through the work of getting a virtual machine configured and running to your liking, it might be a good idea to take a snapshot of your newly created VM in it’s pristine state. This is helpful since when you start breaking shit installing more software, you always want to have a clean slate you can revert back to. Recall how we got our Ubuntu Desktop up and running in VMWare in addition to getting VMware Tools installed. We tested out a few things, launched firefox, browsed a few sites, kicked the tires at the terminal, and just overall confirmed that we have a nice setup running. Now you know as well as I do that once you start making changes, installing software, or updating programs, things can run amok. Let’s make sure we keep a snapshot of this image, so we can always revert back to our beautiful blank slate.


How To Open Snapshot Manager in VMware Workstation

In the screenshot, we can see that if we navigate to VM -> Snapshot -> Snapshot Manager, then we can launch the Snapshot Manager in VMware.  If you’re more of a keyboard short cut type of person, holding Ctrl+M will also get you there.

VM Snapshot Snapshot Manager


Take a Snapshot

In this snapshot manager, we can see the description as follows.  Taking a snapshot lets you preserve the state of the virtual machine so that you can return to the same state later.  This feature might come straight down from heaven in fact, as it will save you if you’re willing to put it to good use.  Give the snapshot a nice descriptive name.  Ours is Fresh Install Ubuntu Desktop.  In the description field, be as verbose as you like.  When you come back to this at a later time, the description will give you a solid understanding of what state you are reverting too.

Take Snapshot Fresh Install Ubuntu Desktop


New Snapshots Now Available

Notice that if we navigate under the menu structure of VM -> Snapshot, we now have an option for Revert to Snapshot: Fresh Install Ubuntu Desktop in addition to it being listed as number 1 in the snapshot list like we see here.

Snapshot is taken and available


View Snapshots in Snapshot Manager

When we actually launch the snapshot manager, notice the diagram we are given as to where we are in the lifecycle.  In clicking on that first snapshot, the name and description populate with the information we had entered originally.  We will cancel out of this for now.

snapshot manager with one snapshot


Install New Software on the Virtual Machine

In part two of this tutorial, we will now install new software on our Ubuntu Desktop. Let’s consider installing the Google Chrome web browser for example. Surely it will be just fine to do this, but we can feel good knowing that if anything goes wrong at all during the install and we break something on our lovely VM, we have a snapshot to revert back to. Let’s test it out.


Download Google Chrome

First off we need the software to install.  There are a few ways to do this in Linux, but for simplicity, we just go ahead and open Firefox to visit the download section of Google to fetch the Chrome browser.

download google chrome


Install GDebi Package Installer

In order to actually install the program, we need to get the Gdebi Package Installer to help us out.  We can get this package from the terminal by typing sudo apt-get install gdebi.

Install GDebi Package Installer


Install google chrome on Ubuntu with GDebi Package Installer

We are now ready to complete the installation of Google Chrome on Ubuntu Desktop.  Navigate to your downloads folder, and right click on the google-chrome-stable_current_amd64.deb
file to open with Gdebi Package Installer.install google chrome on ubuntu with GDebi Package Installer


Install Package google-chrome-stable

The graphical package installer really does help ease the process.

install package google-chrome-stable


Grant administrative rights to install software

When you click Install Package, you will need to provide the admin password in order to continue.

grant administrative rights to install software


Wait Patiently 🙂

installing google chrome process


Launch Google Chrome

Your newly installed application lives in /usr/share/applications.  Double click to launch.

launch google chrome on linux


Welcome To Google Chrome On Ubuntu Desktop

Check it out now, the funk soul brotha, right about now, the funk soul brotha, check it out now: Welcome to Google Chrome on Ubuntu Linux.

Welcome to Chrome on Ubuntu Desktop


Lock Chrome To The Launcher

Make it easy to launch Chrome by locking it to the launcher.

lock google chrome to ubuntu launcher


Reverting To The Fresh Ubuntu Install

Well, installing Google Chrome went perfectly. So in reality, it probably makes sense to keep things as they are now on the Ubuntu VM. Google is of course one of the largest and most respected software companies in the world, so it makes sense that they ship quality software. Imagine however that we tried to install something not quite as polished and we caused some real problems on the VM. Even if we uninstall the questionable software, perhaps there are various bad side effects that remain. It doesn’t really make sense to rebuild the entire virtual machine from scratch. That is much too time consuming. Thankfully, with our snapshot, we can easily revert back to a perfectly working state. Let’s try it now.


Revert To Fresh Ubuntu Install

We can do this right from the toolbar, or launch snapshot manager and complete the process from there.

revert to fresh ubuntu install


Restoring virtual machine state

This only takes a few seconds.

Restoring virtual machine state


Chrome and Gdebi are now gone

We are back to where we started, as good as new.  Note that Chrome is not found on a search, and is also no longer present on the Launcher Toolbar.  In addition, recall that we had installed the Gdebi Package Installer to help us with the Chrome installation.  That package is also entirely gone.  Any side effects those programs may have had on the OS, are no longer an issue.  We are back to a clean slate with no problems.

Chrome is now gone


VMware Workstation Snapshots Summary

Snapshots in VMware are a great way to save yourself from yourself. It is a great comfort to know that if you mess things up on your VM, you can always revert back to a Snapshot you may have taken. Of course this means you need to have the discipline to actually take Snapshots at times that make sense. Give yourself confidence when you venture to make a big change or upgrade to your VM by making use of Snapshots in VMware.