The Super Fat Client: I like it!

by Rick Jelliffe

I'm writing this blog on a Firefox browser on Windows XP. Works fine.

Actually, I'm not. The Firefox is running on an Ubuntu Linux operating system, which is being hosted through the free VMWare private virtualization software on top of Windows XP. Unix on top of Windows! VMWare promote a system where you package up configured applications with the ideal operating or desktop environment for them, as virtual appliances.

With all the talk of thin clients versus fat, this surely is the fattest kind of client! Not just a fat application, but the whole operating system with it! This is a great idea for software deployment
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4 Comments

M. David Peterson
2006-04-25 14:22:36
I completely agree with the notion of virtualization as the focus of the future desktop and server platform. In fact, I have been working on the nuxleus project in idea form since just before I made this > http://www.xsltblog.com/archives/2005/05/dear_microsoft_1.html < post on May 6th of last year. While there's still LOTS of work to be done, I do have the first (actually the third, but the first was proof of concept, and the third was a fix to the second that kept you from being able to log on to the virtual machine) developers only build ready to go, and a general overview of whats it all about located at > http://dev.extensibleforge.net/wiki/nuXle.us


When all is said and done, and the final "@home"-styled released is ready, the size will be WELL under 50 megs for the entire system. The developers build is quite a bit bigger at the moment (350'ish) but even that will drop down to somewhere around 150 megs for the next release (in about 2 weeks (1 every 3 weeks or so))


Some other interesting points:


> While there is no offered support for Windows XP, Virtual Server 2005 from MS (which is now free-as-in-beer) runs EXTREMELY well on top of it, and the utilities that come as part of the package go WELL beyond what VMWare Player has to offer. Running and maintaining multiple virtual instances, mounting and unmounting virtual hard drives, iso images, etc... is a snap, and in fact the Virtual Hard Drive (.vhd) format has a royalty free license, and the specification available to anyone who wants to implement the technology for things that have nothing to do with MS, Windows, or anything related.


On the same extensibleforge site linked above you'll also find the S3 FUSE project. I believe heavily in both the notion of virtualization, as well as separation of concerns by implementing .vhd files as both a use once caching system, portable and personal file system (that you carry around with you on a key drive), as well as various other strategies that implement a level of security in which separates access to ALL system files, user files, application data files, etc.. etc.. etc... into a combination of virtual environements and virtual hard drive such thtere is a complete separation of access in regards to security policies implemented for each piece of the above mentioned system... which is EXACTLY what the nuxleus project is all about.


Would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on any and all of the above if you have a moment.

Dave Fourputt
2006-04-25 16:38:00
Could you please post about how you accomplished this for those of us interested in doing the same with this VMWare?


Thank you.

Rick Jelliffe
2006-04-25 17:55:43
How to do it: follow the instructions for downloading the VMWare Player product and the Browser Appliance application at
http://www.vmware.com/download/player/


Installation was straightforward. I am sure other readers will be interested to know how you get on.


Player is about 28 meg to download. The Linux + Firefox is about 250 Meg (!) but there are other smaller "virtual appliances" available at their site. They have a cometition going too to stimulate new appliances.

M. David Peterson
2006-04-26 00:34:50
One of the cooler appliances is the AST appliance which is Asterisk@Home as a VMWare appliance. Its less than 50 megs in total size, and REALLY cool if your into that kind of thing :)