Wednesday Apr 30, 2008

FatBloke in love?

FatBloke has been absent for quite some time....and to what do we owe this absence:

  • vacation - FatBlokes are machines! They don't need vacation.
  • beer - hmmm, FatBlokes like beer but even so, 2 months absence is a bit rich.
  • love - That's it! FatBloke has a new love in his life and her name is VirtualBox

For sometime now, FatBloke has had an opinion on topics around Desktop Virtualization. Most of the time he has solved the need for:

  • a more secure desktop
  • a more functional desktop
  • a more available desktop

 ...by taking a server based computing and SGD approach to life. This approach used servers and wires to deliver a richer, but more secure desktop than could be delivered traditionally.

And while this is a great approach, which delivers on the needs above, VirtualBox is a different client-side based approach which is compact, self contained and very elegant.  Let me explain...

VirtualBox is a Type-2 hypervisor which means it installs like a program on top of your existing system. So you don't need to wipe your existing machine. Once installed, you create Virtual Machines into which you can install your desired OS's. So here's what it looks like on a Mac host running OpenSolaris and Windows XP:

Screen shot 

 It can install on:

 

  • Windows Hosts - Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, Windows 2008;
  • Linux Hosts - Ubuntu, RedHat, SuSE, Debian....
  • Solaris Hosts - Solaris 10u5, OpenSolaris (beta at the moment);
  • Mac OS X Hosts - 10.4 and 10.5 (Beta)

 

And Guests can be:

  • Windows Guests - Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, Windows 2008, Windows NT, Windows 98, Windows 2000...
  • Linux Guests - Ubuntu, RedHat, SuSE, Debian....
  • Solaris Guests - Solaris 10u5, OpenSolaris (beta at the moment);
  • FreeBSD
  • OS/2
  • (more)

So on his MacBook Pro the FatBloke has all he needs: Mac, Windows, Solaris, Linux apps all at once.

In the next few posts I'll cover cool features of VirtualBox and explain why this is the coolest piece of technology that Sun has acquired in a long time. 

And the first reason is that VirtualBox is FREE (as in free beer) and Open Source (as in free speech).

So go download this roughly 20Mb gem and join the VirtualBox community.

 

-FB 

 

Tuesday Jan 30, 2007

#5 - Client Drive Mapping for UNIX apps

Out of the box, SGD is pre-configured so that any remote apps you run cannot touch the drives on your client device, e.g. your Windows PC.
Reasons for this may be to protect against "contamination-in", where viruses, malware etc may be uploaded to your protected server-side apps.
Another reason may be to protect against "data leakage-out", where you don't want sensitive data leaking out of the internal network.

But at other times you really, really do want to open or save files to your local drives.
So it was great to see yet another cool feature appearing in the SGD 4.3 release, Client Drive Mapping for UNIX apps.

This means that I can run an app on a Solaris or Linux server, say StarOffice, and have that application "see" my local client's filesystem.

It works like this:

And here's how you set it up on the application server:


  1. Create a mount point:
    e.g.
     mkdir /smb
    chmod 755 /smb

  2. Export it:
    On Solaris you can add a line like this to /etc/dfs/dfstab
     share -F nfs -o rw -d "UNIX Drive Mapping" /smb 

  3. Restart NFS
    On Solaris 10:
    svcadm enable network/nfs/server

  4. Install the SGD Enhancement Module (tem) on the Solaris server:
    download it from http://yourservername/tarantella/cgi-bin/modules.cgi
  5. And start the drive mapping component:
    /opt/tta_tem/bin/tem startcdm 

The Administration Guide tells you how to set up the SGD server and how to control which users can/cannot use client drive mapping.

So the end result allows me to see something like this:

...which is me running StarOffice on Solaris 10 accessing files on my Mac OS X Desktop.
Pretty cool huh?
So it makes it into my Cool List at #5.

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Fat Bloke

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