Forum OpenACS Q&A: Response to ANN: Oasis: OpenACS/VMWare no-install, downloadable distro

Maybe unrelated (except for the "virtual" machine stuff)... another neat development tool is to use user-mode linux (UML) to run a development sandbox (from within linux only, though). It has almost all the neat stuff that vmware has: virtual networking and virtual (and undoable)disks, which, like vmware, can be a file on your filesystem. You can allocate whatever amount of memory to your virtual machine you want, even more than your physical memory! (but of course, you machine will swap a lot). You can also have multiple virtual disks, and multiple virtual ethernet devices. Backing up is as simple as copying the virtual disk (if a file).

Now if you are already running linux, why would you do this?

  • Kind of cool to think of your puny machine as a mainframe 😉
  • If you "freeze" a copy of your virtual disks to a state when you have a fresh install of OpenACS4, and use what UML calls "cow" files, it is easy to start over if you messed up somehow. Of course your postgres should also be running on the virtual machine so that the database is in a consistent state at the time of the "freeze". This mimics what John is suggesting with his ready-made vmware disk images, which, for maximum benefit, should be configured as "undoable" in vmware.
  • If you are running Debian, you can run Redhat linux on your virtual machine and enjoy the openacs rpm goodies. In fact, you can run whatever distro you want on the virtual machine, and still keep the distro you prefer running on your physical machine. For debian users, this is a great way to play with the unstable branch (although for OpenACS4 purposes, "testing" is just fine).
  • I'm not sure of the performance in production systems, but you can run your OpenACS4 site on a virtal machine and enjoy the peace of mind of a "jailed" aolserver and postgres, without actually configuring both in jailed mode. I think it would be foolish to try running Oracle in the virtual machine, though...
User-mode linux is free (gpl-ed), unlike vmware. However, it won't run on windows. Configuration is not as straightforward as vmware, but the UML website has all the info you need. Or email me.