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Browse Safely

Following on from an entry about VMware Player in my other blog - a free virtual machine player from the folk at VMware - here's an interesting application: VMware's own Browser Appliance.

The idea's simple: it's a cut down OS just for web browsing that runs in VMware player to protect the rest of your PC from malware. If you hit problems, just reinstall the image - you won't need to rebuild a PC from scratch. It's not small - the image comes in at 206MB or so, so think of it as a proof of concept.

But still, it's a pointer to part of the future of computing: compartmentalised, functional components that run in isolation, managed by a single virtual machine manager.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 19th, 2005 06:35 pm (UTC)
Not quite. Mixing virtualisation and SOA gives you a lot more flexibility than a mainframe.

While a parallel sysplex of OS 390 machines could cluster VMs, it's nothing like the ability to completely redeploy an architecture across commodity hardware on the fly.
Oct. 19th, 2005 06:47 pm (UTC)
Ah, Deja-vu all over again.
But we were doing this in the early-1980s: an IBM [well, Hitachi actually] mainframe running under VM, with 'guest' operating-systems of VM/CMS for the scientists, several MVS-with-CICS regions [test, production] of different versions for the business-types, and - from memory - TSO in there on occasions too.

Though it paged-like-mad on the 3380s, it worked surprisingly well and from memory the entire system only had 256Mbytes of memory.
Oct. 19th, 2005 06:55 pm (UTC)
have been a big fan of VMware since, ohhh, ages ago. Wouldn't be without it. And indeed I use it for such things as compartmentalising build environments and installs to protect the main PC from harm / install badness. I like the browser appliance! ta for the link.
Oct. 19th, 2005 07:38 pm (UTC)

Can I stick that VM image onto a USB stick and take it with me wherever I go, so that I've got my complete OS, apps, etc. at all times?
Oct. 19th, 2005 07:57 pm (UTC)
Oct. 20th, 2005 02:56 am (UTC)
Seems to be having trouble installing on Debian -- apparently needs to build a kernel module and doesn't believe that I have the right headers installed.

And almost everyone else in my group is using Macs. I suppose if I want to try it I'll have to run it on a virtualized RedHat environment...
Oct. 20th, 2005 09:09 am (UTC)
So install the correct kernel headers, then :)

I've got vmware workstation running here on Ubuntu (hoary); it started off as vmware 3.1 (I think) on Mandrake 7 and the installation has been through a long sequence of host and vmware updates inbetween with barely a glitch (vmware 5 beta was flaky with kernel 2.6; I think that's it).

I wouldn't be without it: it's necessary for web development.
Oct. 20th, 2005 03:47 pm (UTC)
As far as I can tell, I have the headers, it's just that they're not where the script expects them, and the contents of version.h (2.6.12) don't exactly match the kernel's version string (2.6.12-something). A little bit of Debian oddness that I haven't figured out yet.
Oct. 20th, 2005 04:23 pm (UTC)
Odd. I've had a furtle about in the VMware installer, but I haven't either the time or brainpower today to work out the logic. It works here with corresponding linux-header-2.6... and linux-image-2.6... packages installed, but that's not really much help, is it?
Oct. 21st, 2005 03:31 am (UTC)
Hmm... I may have to install the appropriate linux-image for my architecture; so far I've just been using what the installer left me with.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )