LXF78 DVD: The Browser Appliance - VMWare Player for Windows

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LXF78 DVD: The Browser Appliance - VMWare Player for Windows

Postby Marrea » Sun Mar 05, 2006 1:12 pm

I have got as far as installing VMware Player for Windows from the LXF78 DVD, but I can't work out how to open Browser-Appliance.vmx. Sorry about this, but this is my first experience of virtual machines. I know nothing about them yet.

Page 107 of the magazine says
"To run it [Browser-Appliance], install VMware Player for Windows and use it to open Browser-Appliance.vmx in the Browser-Appliance-1.0.0.zip file."

If I do a Windows search for Browser-Appliance-1.0.0.zip, telling it to look in the DVD, it reveals that it is in:
C:\Documents and Settings\User\Local Settings\Applications Data\Microsoft\CD Burning\System\VMware-Player

However, if I then open up VMware Player and browse through to find the file I can only get as far as the CD Burning directory, which is empty.

If I go back to the search window and double-click on the zip file, it shows the Browser-Appliance.vmx file.

I'm obviously doing something wrong. How do I open up this file within VMware Player?

My husband has expressed interest in having the The Browser Appliance on his computer, but I need to work out how to use it myself first before messing up his machine!
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RE: LXF78 DVD: The Browser Appliance - VMWare Player for Win

Postby Rhakios » Sun Mar 05, 2006 1:41 pm

There is a file on the DVD called Browser-Appliance-1.0.0.zip (which is customised version of Ubuntu if it's the same as the one on the VMWare site), you need to unzip this to somewhere on your hard disk. Inside the Browser-Appliance directory this creates you will find a file called Browser-Appliance.vmx, that's the one you want to point VMPlayer at.
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Postby Marrea » Sun Mar 05, 2006 3:26 pm

Many thanks, Rhakios. The Browser-Appliance file was in the System, VMwarePlayer directory of the DVD (if I'd had any sense I would have looked there first :oops: ).

I am posting here now courtesy of the aforementioned Browser Appliance. I must say it's a bit weird seeing Ubuntu start up in Windows. :shock:

I'll play around with it a little more before I put it on Him Indoors' computer. Do you think the VMPlayer/Browser Appliance combination would be OK on his machine? He's got one of those Sony Vaio desktops with the "gubbins" built into the back of the screen rather than a separate hard drive (it's more or less a glorified laptop). It seems to have a fair amount of customisation by Sony and I wouldn't want to mess anything up.

(Just noticed that quotation marks come out as @ symbols here. I have to use the @ key to get quotation marks. I assume this version of Ubuntu is using a US keyboard.)
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Postby Rhakios » Sun Mar 05, 2006 3:47 pm

I think it should be fine, as long as the hardware is up to it (i.e. enough RAM, hard disk space and processor speed). My main gripe with Browser-Appliance when I tired it was that it used DHCP to get an IP address, but I don't use DHCP on my network. And yes, changing settings is difficult as it isn't supposed to be configurable. I'm sure it is possible to hack it but I don't have the time to fiddle with it at the moment as I'm setting up OpenSuse10.1 beta 6 and trying to get Xgl to work on another computer (yes, at the same time).
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Postby Marrea » Sun Mar 05, 2006 4:06 pm

Thanks.

Yes, I'm sure the hardware is up to it. And we use DHCP so that should be OK. We don't have a network as such. Our ethernet connection is only for (a) me being able to get on the Internet easily with Linux and (b) both of us being able to get on the Internet at the same time.

I'm back on the laptop with SUSE SLICK now so am going to try out your suggestion re updates.

Good luck with 10.1 beta 6; and Xgl. Quite how you also manage to find time to sort out me and 1sf (troll) is nothing short of amazing. :)
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Postby Marrea » Fri Mar 10, 2006 1:23 pm

I've now been trying out VMware Player and the Browser Appliance (running on Windows XP) for a few days. A couple of nights ago I installed RealPlayer so I can view BBC news videos. (For some reason I can only get this to work in the default Firefox 1.0.7., not the alternative 1.5.0. RP is listed as a plugin in the former, but not the latter.)

What I would really appreciate though is some guidance on how best to configure VMware and Browser Appliance for maximum security and useability.

The "Getting Started Guide" (from the vmware website) says:

"By automatically resetting the environment after every use, users safeguard personal information such as passwords, account numbers, browsing history and other personally identifiable information. The Browser Appliance can be configured to automatically reset itself after each use so personal information is never stored permanently.

Protect your PC against adware, spyware, and other malware by browsing the Internet with Mozilla Firefox in a virtual machine. The Browser Appliance leverages the isolation capabilities of virtual machines to prevent malware downloaded in the browser from propagating to the normal desktop."


I am getting a bit confused about the two modes: preserving changes (persistent mode) and reverting to original state on shutdown (autorevert mode). Ideally, what I would like to achieve is the blitzing of any personal information, spyware etc when I finish a session (as surely this is the whole point of having VM/BA?) but retain eg any new folders created or programs added post-installation such as the aforementioned RealPlayer (because, in the case of the latter, this for me is an essential for surfing). Is it possible to achieve both these aims simultaneously?

It appears that you can configure both VM and BA.

VMware Player
In Player>Preferences, you can set either "suspend the virtual machine" or "power off on exit".

Browser Appliance
The Browser-Appliance.vmx configuration file defaults to preserving changes on shutdown. If you want to revert on shutdown you edit the file by adding the three lines given in the Guide.


Where I start to get really confused is the procedure for closing the BA. There seem to be two options. You can:

1. End your current session in persistent mode, and here VMPlayer can be set to either suspend on exit or power off on exit. There is one set of instructions for both.
2. End your current session in autorevert mode, and discard all changes to the virtual machine. Under this option there two sets of instructions: (a) for when VM is set to power off on exit and (b) for when VM is set to suspend on exit.

The Guide mentions that setting the Browser Appliance to revert on shutdown will cause the Browser Appliance to discard changes you have made in the current session [my italics]. So does this mean that, as I have already installed RealPlayer and closed down in persistent mode, that if I now open up again and change to autorevert mode RealPlayer will not be removed because it was installed in a previous session?

If someone could help me through this maze, I'd be mightily grateful, as I can't seem to work out which combination of options I need to set to achieve maximum security and optimum useability :?
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Postby Rhakios » Fri Mar 10, 2006 8:04 pm

I'd think the only way to find out would be to try it, and I haven't.

Just one small thing, Browser-Appliance.vmx is a configuration file for VMPlayer to read that tells it about the Browser-Appliance operating system. It is not, as such, a file belonging to the Browser Appliance.

Okay, another small point, suspend is a lot like putting a computer to sleep with power saving features, which is why you would need a separate set of instructions in order to revert on suspend, compared to having persistent mode on suspend, which would be more natural.

And one last small point, I haven't looked at it too closely, but I would assume that the revert option arises out of exploiting the same mechanism VMWare uses to take a system snapshot. Judging from the way this works in VMWare, I would think that revert always goes back to the same snapshot, i.e. the OS as it was when first installed. But as I suggested above, there is only one way to be sure.
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Postby 1slipperyfish » Sat Mar 11, 2006 10:17 am

marrea wrote:Good luck with 10.1 beta 6; and Xgl. Quite how you also manage to find time to sort out me and 1sf (troll) is nothing short of amazing.

it's a miracle :shock: i think rhakios is a modern day superman :D
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Postby Rhakios » Sat Mar 11, 2006 12:44 pm

1slipperyfish (troll) wrote:it's a miracle :shock: i think rhakios is a modern day superman :D
paul


Did Superman have a gammy knee and dodgy wisdom teeth then?
:?
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Postby 1slipperyfish » Sat Mar 11, 2006 6:17 pm

i'm no expert but i'm sure that is exactly what superman had when he gave up his powers for lois :D so in fact i am your lois lane :D
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ps i'm sure i have already posted this(routers down :roll: ) :?
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Postby Rhakios » Sat Mar 11, 2006 8:33 pm

1slipperyfish (troll) wrote: so in fact i am your lois lane :D


Hmm, now what's the word I'm looking for?



Oh yes...



Heeeeuuuuurrrgh!
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Postby Marrea » Sun Mar 12, 2006 5:39 pm

Right, I think I have now got this sorted.

I had to set the Browser Appliance to revert on shutdown by adding:

Code: Select all
scsi0:0.mode = "independent-nonpersistent"
snapshot.action = "autoRevert"
snapshot.disabled = "TRUE"


to the file Browser-Appliance.vmx

When I close the Browser Appliance, in order to discard all changes to the virtual machine from the current session I have to follow the instructions for when VMware Player is set to power off on exit (which mine is), as follows:
"1. Select Player>Exit or click the X on the right-hand side of the VMware Player menu bar.
2. The virtual machine performs an abbreviated shutdown, and VMware Player exits. This operation may take several minutes to complete.
All changes to the virtual machine from the current session are discarded."


I find that this removes any bookmarks I have made, my history list etc and - I would like to think - any spyware etc which may have slipped in.

However, in order to first remove all the bookmarks etc which I had already accumulated I had to be in persistent mode so my changes (ie deleting everything) were retained. Then after that I changed to autorevert mode, so all future changes during sessions will not be preserved.

And I still have a fully-functioning RealPlayer !!
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Postby 1slipperyfish » Sun Mar 12, 2006 6:39 pm

we are pretty much snowed in here in sunny wigan :roll: is there any chance of you coming up here and taking me for a romantic rooftop flight :?:
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Postby Rhakios » Sun Mar 12, 2006 10:22 pm

I think Marrea is married, so you're out of luck there 1sf (troll). ;)

Oh, by the way, well done on getting that sorted Marrea, you'll have to put a howto on the wiki.
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Postby Marrea » Mon Mar 13, 2006 11:54 am

Rhakios wrote:I think Marrea is married, so you're out of luck there 1sf (troll). ;)


Since when did that minor technicality ever stop anyone? !!!
:D

Not sure I'd be able to find Wigan though. Down south here in Hertfordshire we get lost if we go beyond Luton.

Oh, by the way, well done on getting that sorted Marrea, you'll have to put a howto on the wiki.


Would it be of any use to anyone though, I wonder. Judging by the lack of input into this thread, either I'm the only person on the forum who's installed VMware Player on Windows or (more likely) no one else has had any problems setting it up anyway.

I must try installing on Linux next. I'm quite enjoying dipping my toe into this vm stuff, although have to confess I found the article on Xen in LXF 77 pretty hard going.

Later edit
Aha - I see there is in fact other activity on this front
http://www.linuxformat.co.uk/index.php? ... pic&t=2678
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