Friday Oct 10, 2008

OpenSSO Learning Made Easy: Amazing What a Little Virtualization Can Do

If you want to learn a lot about OpenSSO as quickly and easily as possible, look no further than the free lab AM-3508-D. Training course developer, David Goldsmith, has really outdone himself here. He has put together a lab that can really change how training is done in the future for OpenSSO.

This type of training course has tremendous potential. This should really be able to serve the OpenSSO community. Lab AM-3508-D is described in several places, including the following:

Anyway, there was a lot of buzz on this lab when it first came out and I've continued to hear great buzz since. Like I said, the potential here is great. I finally got around to starting the lab. It looks great. You have the whole lab in a VMware virtual machine, all self contained and beautiful. It's just great! (Have I used the word "great" enough? Really, it's great!). You install and configure the OpenSSO related products. Your not watching someone do it. Your not reading about how to do it. You just do it. To borrow a phrase, "It just works!" You can jump forward or roll back anywhere along the way. This is really, really what training aspires to be. This kind of learning can really reach the community easily, too. Often classroom training is just not feasible.

To get the lab, I used the OpensSSO publication team's Windows laptop to download the free Sun Download Manager 2.0 for downloading large Sun downloads (downloading it and installing it took all of 3 minutes). Then I downloaded the free labs (thhis took a while because they're in a virtual machine which is a huge download). Then I downloaded the free VMware Player (downloading it and installing it took all of 7 minutes).

To be fair, I must explain that I first tried to downlaod VMware Server. You can create your own virtual machines with VMware server, but not VMware Player. However, I ran into problems with VMware Server. You need to provide the fully qualified domain name, so I issued ipconfig from a command window. It seemed like I had it figured out. I'm wondering if there was a permissions problem. I had a browser interface that was letting me control the VMware Server interface, I had the  lab 3508-D virtual machine all loaded. Then, bam! I got an error that wouldn't let me continue. I uninstalled VMware Server, downloaded and installed VMware Player and all is goodness.

The lab is all on Solaris, so you'll do everything in a Solaris environment. You get to learn some pretty trick Solaris things along the way, such as the concepts of "zones" and "ZFS." You can stop and come back later to the same spot, or skip forward or fall back amongst labs. I'm just starting, so it's too early to say too much.

I thought that just getting the lab started might be an ordeal, but it wasn't. It's especially easy if one uses VMware Player, since it's so lightweight and simple.

Bottom Line: If you want to learn about how to use OpenSSO and Policy Agent 3.0 and a lot, lot more, do this free lab. Did I mention that it's free?

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