Posted by
Oliver Smith  -  December 2008
Something I've noticed gaining a little popularity is the VMWare Appliance concept. VMWare have a mechanism for taking a virtual machine and creating a downloadable "appliance" which uses their free VMWare player to operate.

You use something like VMWare server (free) or VMWare workstation to create the virtual machine, install the operating system and software, configure it and then save a snapshot of it. This snapshot becomes the basis for the "appliance".

Users download the appliance and, voila, they have a fully configured virtual machine ready to go.

This provides a really handy way to demonstrate a product.  Microsoft do something similar to create Windows "test drives" where you download a file and voila you have a, say, Windows 2008 Server in a box for a trial period.

VMWare's solution has the added benefit, as of 6.x, of having a "replay" system that lets you record what you do with the appliance.

Scenario: Set up a virtual machine with a linux flavor (gentoo, fedora) with a minimal install plus Roxen. Snapshot with the box installed, user logged in, Roxen started, firefox pointed at the admin interface and logged in. That's the applied. Now "record", with voice over, as you add a site and create a quick HTML file, alt-tab to the browser and access the site.

Compared to a screencast demo of, say CMS or Portal, this has the bonus that when they're done with the replay the user can reset back to the snapshot state you provided and try it themselves or they can take over after the replay -- they actually have the box you demonstrated to play with, on their own system.

One of the problems I think Roxen faces is that it is too good to be true :) People can be a bit overwhelmed by a description of what Roxen does without any additional downloads/modules/plugins/configuration files/Andersen-consulting-fees, so some of it sounds like more-than-you-need and other parts sound like the sort of high-flying promises open software often makes while neglecting to provide the small print ("activating this functionality requires that you stab yourself in the eye with a rusty dagger and daily sacrifice of 3 small children and a limb"). RXML? Apache has JSP tags. (Oh yeah, but you have to run tomcat and master the various different configuration files, set up mappings, configure jsp stuff, blah blah blah)

It's only when you can corner someone and fire up the admin interface and go click, click, click //website// that people go "bloody hell, what was that? where do I get it?"

And even then, they're suspicious. You can get GUI's configuration managers for Apache. When you're done compiling, building, feeding, configuring, bathing and praying to them they're not hard to use either. "That wasn't an add on, that /is/ Roxen" "But it can't be, there's no blood and nobody was killed"

Could be an incredible tool for Roxen promotion?
Posted by
Matthew Hardy  -  December 2008
Pike modules are often too good to be true.... and the ease in which they speed up development on top of Roxen WebServer.
Perhaps that would also be a good avenue to promote. More functional Pike modules - you may have heard of IMHO.

Recently in Jylland, Denmark, I have demonstrated the ease of Roxen and in combination with php-open source apps, ie. phpmyadmin.
The user was very pleased with the ease of management and flexibility.

I would run a vmware appliance, but I would have to get the vmplayer on windows which runs on parallels, so probably too hard :)

Personally I use xen for very fast virtualisation.

Posted by
Matthew Hardy  -  December 2008
Hey. So, are you in a position to create & demo this rox/box in vmware?

Perhaps there is also a list of 'topics' that could benefit from screen cast demonstrations contributed by community members?

Some examples that may be obscure or helpful to the amateur hostmaster...

1. set up filesystem security tab: ie. allow user=any
2. utf8 database setup :)
3. adding site access to db - tab
4. install php-cgi and adding redirect
5. install/write custom modules - + adding the pike code for these.
6. Basically more examples for the new and old users. Pick up where it was left off in 2002.

Thoughts, ideas, action or proposal plans are good.

I tried out Wink on IE, seems decent. Will try a screen cast on the virtual win by xmas, lets see what the reaction is...
Posted by
Oliver Smith  -  December 2008
For screen casts, I've come to swear by Camtasia. I've been trying cheaper/open source options for years but I finally splashed out on a personal copy of Camtasia (which is not cheap at $299) because it's just saved me so much time.

The main problem with the VMWare option would appear to be size - fedora and gentoo quickly become rather large when you leave a GUI in them - but that's probably where their "appliance" mode would pay off. Still, the resulting virtual machine is going to be largeish because it will be Linux + Roxen + some spare space to play with.

I may have time to experiment this weekend or next (things are hectic), but I'll report back when I have an example.

Posted by
Matthew Hardy  -  May 2009
Still have not had time for this but not sure if anyone interested...
Posted by
Matthew Hardy  -  June 2010
Something I've noticed gaining a little popularity is the VMWare Appliance concept. VMWare have a mechanism for taking a virtual machine and creating a downloadable "appliance" which uses their free VMWare player to operate.


Could be an incredible tool for Roxen promotion?

I've switched to VirtualBox to run Windows and Linux on my OS X - hardware ruled the decision...

But I have constant battles with BSD libs and Pike.
The perfect setup appears to be on Debian... for now.

I made a VirtualBox appliance, with Roxen/Pike compiled, so Pike 7.8.447 symlinked from Roxen.

But it is a 1.4GB appliance.
And when I tested it as import, it seemed to have local paths on the HD, so seemed to be not-an-ideal way to distribute a working system.

I wonder if in stead we just have a Perfect Setup Section, where people can submit the command lines for installing everything, libs etc.

That way it is way easier to answer basic setup issues for community needs...

Anyway, I have a recent list of commands I will get in here soon.

Search this thread: