Appliances are fully configured application images that can be deployed on either physical or virtual machines. Their out of the box experience makes them very attractive solution. They are becoming exceedingly popular as they reduce the costs for the software vendors as well as IT cells using them.This version of ConVirt aims to simplify Appliance Lifecycle Management.
ConVirt comes with an online appliance catalog containing few popular rPath and JumpBox appliances. Each entry in the catalog contains url from where the appliance can be downloaded, description and a bunch of technical metadata. The catalog also has a search/filter capability to find the appliance that you are looking for. Once you find what you are looking for, simply pick import it into the ConVirtrt Image Store. Once in the store, multiple instances of appliances can be provisioned as any other image. It shares all the flexibility and configurability offered by the provisioning scheme described in the previous section. We would be adding more appliance vendors soon.
Appliance Management shortcuts
Once the Appliance is provisioned, the context sensitive menu for Appliance Lifecycle Management shows up. It contains short cuts to the application as well as following common appliance management operations.
- Backup Configuration
- Email setup for notifications
- Network configurations
- Setting Root Password
- Setting Time Zone
- Check for Appliance updates
- User Management
- Viewing Logs
This menu is available only when the appliance is running. Out of the box the appliances are configured to obtain a dynamic address using dhcp. When any of the above mentioned menu is invoked for the first time, you are prompted for entering the ip address/hostname of the VM. You can find this information mostly from the console messages when the appliance boots up. You can use the Specify Details menu item to enter this information apriori or change the information after the fact.
For importing appliances that not in the catalog, one can use the "Specify Manually" option to specify the URL manually and specifying some additional information.
For example :
- Provider : Appliance provider, rPath.
- Package : Describes the package as being file system image or appliance in XVA/OVA format.
- Architecture : 32 Bit or 64 Bit
- PAE : Check if you know that the kernel uses physical address extension.
- HVM : If the image is contains xen paravirtualized kernels or is to be instantiated in hvm mode. (For rPath Appliances always leave hvm box blank.)
- Pick a platform, either Xen or KVM. The HVM images can be deployed on both Xen or KVM.
Importing a reference Disk / Cloning a VM
If you have a reference disk or want to clone an already provisioned VM, you can use the Manual Specification method mentioned above. Simply specify the path of the reference disk as a url and choose 'Other' as a provider. It is preferred to gzip the disk image.
For example, I can specify the following parameters for cloning the gold image for our employee desktop.
- URL : /path/to/my/disk/gold.winxp.img.gz
- Image Name : Employee_Desktop
- Provider : Other
- Package : File System
- Architecture : X86_32
- PAE : Leave checkbox unchecked.
- HVM : Select the checkbox as we will be using HVM method to create employee desktop
When an Appliance is imported, appliance_vm_conf.template, appliance_hvm_conf.template, appliance_image_conf.template and appliance_desc.template are used. These are under src/convirt/core/appliance/<platform> directory. You may want to customize these to suite your environment.