The 10 Best VMware Virtual Appliances

As suggested in the comments, I’ve updated this post here: http://blandname.com/2012/04/09/top-10-virtual-appliances-revisited/

Daniel and Bitnami have quite a few of these already published, which is pretty cool! 

This list is subjective, and you’ve been warned!

All of these virtual appliances have been tested with ESX server, and may have issues elsewhere.

For appliances that needed it, I used R3 Data Recovery VMware Converter, the version that ships with Virtual Infrastructure 3.5 (VI3.5).

Please note that both ESX 3.5 and Virtual Center 2.5 are available as trials from VMware currently, and I would highly recommend trying them out as it really is night and day compared to VMware Workstation, Server and Player.

That said, for the most part you’ll be fine working with VMware Server 2.0 – it’s free and has a special version of VMware Infrastructure Client to boot.

The list:

  1. Astaro Security Gateway – This is a must in any build for me. I use this to bridge between my LAN/WAN and the virtual networks that I create. There is a 10-device, 1000 connection “home user” license available from My Astaro that should be more than sufficient to get you up and running with a clean, secure virtual network.
  2. Ubuntu 7.10 JeOS Mini-image – this image weighs in at only 70MB or so, expands to roughly 200MB, has apt-get installed, and is a perfect candidate for building virtual appliances with. VMware tools is installed, so you don’t need to worry about things like date and time sync.
  3. OpenBSD 4.2 – The OpenBSD image is great for getting started in the OpenBSD world: learning the shell, commands, networking, and in my case, firewalling. The verison I use comes from Chrysaor.info, but feel free to use your own.
  4. OpenSuSE 10.3 – I can’t live without this virtual appliance – I use it for just about everything, and is the first appliance installed in any environment. Note that it is a bit bloated, containing USB, sound and other components typically not needed in a virtual environment. On the other hand, since it’s tried and tested on my end, it’s a lifer.
  5. Trac – I use Trac as a wiki and VM staging log. I consider all VMs, hosts and Virtual Center as software projects, and monitor changes closely. If ever I need to pull up quick info about a virtual machine, host, network, router or firewall, it’s all in Trac.
  6. WordPress – I use my WordPress virtual machine to stage different versions of blandname, to test updates, upgrades, and plugins. This also allows me to change themes, move Adsense blocks around, and generally to play without fear of losing revenue or breaking something.

  1. MySQL / PHPMyAdmin – This is not a requirement for any of the virtual machines / appliances mentioned above, but I prefer to keep it separate in order to manage multiple databases with one interface without the need to login to multiple IP addresses.
  2. OpenFiler – Openfiler is an interesting virtual machine in that it provides storage to other virtual machines. This allows you to have shares that multiple virtual appliances can access, be it SMB, NFS, FTP or iSCSI. Note that using iSCSI in a VM may seem redundant, but it’s a great way to get your feet wet with iSCSI without the need for a separate box. I use OpenFiler as a general purpose storage device, and can’t see this changing anytime soon, though FreeNAS may be a good alternative to those interested in the BSD-type appliances.
  3. Joomla – I’ve been considering moving most of my websites to Joomla based mainly on the CMS/approval workflow that WordPress has, but implements poorly. You could probably use this in place of the Trac server as well if you are just managing info, but since I’m still testing, these are kept separately for now.
  4. NagiOS – NagiOS provides a centralized monitoring solution for all of the virtual appliances, as well as any hardware device you have that uses SNMP. I use NagiOS to monitor print queues, bandwidth, uptime and my ESX / Virtual Center servers as well!
  5. Nostalgia – That’s right, this list of 10 goes to 11! Nostalgia is included as the first VM appliance download for VI3, and I must say, I’m hooked on 3D Tetris from California Dreams, just as badly as I was when I originally played it on my Amiga 500.

That rounds up the list. You’ll note that most of the appliances listed have to do with *nix and web development. Also left out is the fact that Virtual Center is running on a hardware box with hostgator coupon code, and not a virtual machine, like others have done. This argument could go on forever, but I like the agility of having VC2.5 as a separate entity.

Any additions?

2 thoughts on “The 10 Best VMware Virtual Appliances

  1. I have hunted for the Nostalgia Appliance and cannot find it anywhere. The VMware VAM download URL just kicks me back to the All Appliance page. Do you have it or know where else I could find it?

    Thank you. Thank you.

    Michael Ferguson

  2. Hi Ryan,

    As the post was made years ago, the VMs linked are quite old. I wanted to mention for new readers of this post that you can get up to date VMs for some of the applications you mention (in particular Trac, WordPress, Joomla) from http://bitnami.org/stacks or also searching in the VMWare marketplace. The VMs are free and also available in other formats such as native installers and cloud images.

    Cheers

    Daniel

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