Launch Virtual Apps Directly from your Linux Desktop

In an article about desktop virtualisation I explored some of the options for virtual machines on a linux desktop. In this article, I’ll extend that a little by setting out how to launch a Windows app from your linux desktop as if it were a native app. It isn’t in fact a native app, it’s an application running in a virtual machine on vmware and displayed on your desktop using unity mode. But for all intents and purposes it will look and behave as if it “belongs” on your desktop.

So how do you go about doing this?

This is actually quite simple once you know how. You simply use the vmware-unity-helper command with the -r argument. The -r argument stands for “run”. You then add the location of the .vmx file for the vmware virtual machine you want to use. The last argument is the location of the executable on the directory tree of your Windows VM. So here is an example for launching MS Word. Note the back slashes in the path for the Windows executable:

vmware-unity-helper -r /home/matt/vmware/Windows\ 7/Windows\ 7.vmx 'C:\\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\WINWORD.exe'

Test it out in a terminal to make sure it works OK. Please note that it will take a wee while to launch if the VM isn’t already running. Once it’s running, it will launch immediately. Once it’s working OK, you can create a launcher in your favourite dock or launching app. I won’t be able to explain how to do that for the countless number of launchers out there. But almost all have a field to put in the command to be run when you click the launcher icon. Put the above command (customised for your situation of course) in that “command” field.

That’s it.