Learning Guide

A command line tutorial for server virtualization management

Keith Kessinger, Assistant Site Editor

The command line prompt is a computing dinosaur. But unlike the T-Rex and stegosaurus, the command line isn't extinct. In fact, it thrives in server virtualization

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environments.

The resources in this command line tutorial for server virtualization management cover the major hypervisors and scripting languages. Whether you're new to commands or just need a refresher, this guide should simplify server virtualization management in your data center.

The power of the command line
The command line serves as a powerful and versatile way for IT administrators to interact and manage a virtual infrastructure. Through a series of command line inputs -- such as commands, cmdlets and scripts -- virtualization admins can monitor and change the characteristics of physical and virtual machines (VMs), everything from viewing the CPU statistics of a virtual host to the provisioning of new guest VMs.

Command line tools provide distinct advantages over their graphical user interface (GUI) management utilities.

  • Save time. GUIs offer simplicity and a clean interface, but at the cost of speed. Generally, GUI management tools require multiple mouse clicks to navigate menus and complete tasks. This point-and-click management environment bogs down complex activities, such as batch provisioning or VM configurations.
  • Command line tools, on the other hand, excel at these procedural assignments. Commands, cmdlets and scripts can automate tedious, repetitious tasks -- allowing admins to work on other assignments. Additionally, commands retrieve information more quickly than GUI management tools because there are fewer windows and mouse clicks involved.

  • Reduce mistakes. Through automation, commands and scripts reduce the chance of human error and ensure consistency.

There is a learning curve for command line management, however. Admins must manipulate a scripting language to execute commands. The PowerShell language -- used in VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V environments, for example -- has a syntax as well as numerous noun and verb combinations. In essence, it's a language, no different than English or Spanish, albeit not as complex.

For platform-specific resources, check out the other sections of this command line tutorial.

This was first published in September 2010

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