I’ve seen some posts on twitter and other bloggers raising a very important problem with virtual appliances.
I’m glad I’m not the only one that has struggled with keeping virtual appliances updated, or even more basic, trying to install the VMware tools in an appliance so it plays well with other virtual machines in the cluster. Recently I was trying out a multipurpose Linux OS with some pre-configured services that are pretty well put together, but the gaping hole in making it truly well done was the complete lack capability through the well-laid out web management GUI to install and update VMware tools. I had to go to the shell (which is fine for me, I’ve worked with Linux for years) and had to install several modules to the appliance to get the tools to install.
The whole purpose of virtual appliances is their convenience and maybe the struggle to keep them patched might be because the change to VMware Update Manager from when they originally architected the appliance program by removing guest OS patching, but it doesn’t excuse why these appliances have no VMware tools installed or an easy installation process now.
If we have to spend time figuring out what modules are missing and go through the download process to get them installed then go through the process to get them installed, it marginalizes the convenience factor. So, come on vendors, let’s take the final step necessary to make really useful virtual appliances that play well with others as soon as the installation is complete.