In the first part of this series I looked at using the new Pocket ACE feature of VMware workstation 6 and the ACE add-on. My conclusion was that the install process needed work.
The next tool I have looked at and had fun with is the Moka5 engine. This is a user friendly wrapper for both installing the VMware Player and for getting the VM onto a PC or USB key to run it from.
In the role of USB based VM environment to be used on a PC that I’m visiting this is much slicker than Pocket ACE. The Player install is silent, although I expect the same limitations for true kiosk PCs where MSI packages are locked out.
Last week I was a student on a course so I used a classroom PC for four days, the VM I used for the ACE work gave me what I needed in the VM for the week.
The hard part was getting my VM into the setup. The Moka5 engine is designed to allow you to have a library of VMs on their hosted web site & download the VM or parts of VM that you require to whatever install of Moka5 you happen to be using. You can have a private library of VMs or access the public library. The public library is all free software at this stage, although there is an option to pre-order Windows XP & Vista VMs. The VM libraries are simply web folders, so it would be easy to implement a corporate library.
The Moka5 engine also lets you import existing VMs from VMware Workstation. I had initial difficulties with this as I had created a pre-allocated disk on my VM and at one point it was a SCSI disk. Both of these choices caused the Moka5 import to fail. Once I had a VM with IDE disks and sparse provisioned the import behaved correctly.
The other interesting feature that the Moka5 engine has is a Bare-Metal install mode, i.e. install to bootable media. I tried this with a USB key and it worked well, although since I haven’t setup a library of MOKA5 Live PCs (or LPCs as they like to name their packaged VMs) I couldn’t test this a huge amount. I did test downloading a couple of the public library LPCs and these ran well inside the Linux based boot environment on the USB key. The Bare-Metal engine can be installed to a hard disk in a PC allowing the PC to be used as a host to run LPCs that are downloaded from a web site.
On a USB key it isn’t yet possible to use the same copy of a VM for both the Bare-Metal and host OS access methods, but this should be a development priority.
Right now Moka5 has a permanent place on my USB key, as a way to get to a large amount of my computing environment from a PC I don’t own.
I need to do some tuning work on the VM, particularly finding a web service to sync my favorites and maybe some sort of file sync for frequently used documents.
© 2007, Alastair. All rights reserved.