[fedora-virt] Distributing Fedora 11 Created Virtual Machines

Daniel P. Berrange berrange at redhat.com
Tue May 26 09:35:12 UTC 2009

On Sun, May 24, 2009 at 09:40:01PM -0400, Robert L Cochran wrote:
> I have a virtual machine created on Fedora 11 which runs Ubuntu 9.04. I 
> have some more customizations to do with the machine, such as getting it 
> to speak to (FTDI 232R-based) USB devices. When that is done, I would 
> like to copy the virtual machine to a USB flash drive and postal mail 
> that to a teacher. The scenario I'm envisioning is that the teacher can 
> then import the virtual machine and play it on his or her computer -- 
> whatever that computer is, perhaps a Windows machine running VirtualBox 
> or VMWare. Not necessarily a machine running Fedora 11, you see. Now we 
> have my first question: can she run my virtual machine on another 
> virtual machine manager, which is not necessarily a Fedora product?

There's no easy answer to that question. it really depends how you
configured the virtual machine, and the OS installed inside it. For
example if you configured 'virtio' disks, then you'll likely have
trouble making it work in VMWare or VirtualBox. To a certain extent
Linux can cope with hardware changing & automatically reconfigure
itself, but it depends on exactly how well the distro in question
is put together.   The only way to be sure of success is to actually
test your viurtual machine image in VirtalBox & VMWare yourself
and fixing any portability problems you encounter.

> To go on with the story I'd like the teacher to add her customizations 
> to the Ubuntu virtual machine, then she in turn will deploy that to 
> students. They would copy the virtual machine to their computers 
> (whatever those are) and play them on those computers. These will 
> probably be whatever computers the school has an d/or whatever computers 
> the student can afford to pay for. Could this work as well?

Again you're looking at the same problem of whether the guest OS will
automatically reconfigure itself for the different hardware or not,
but with the added problem that you'll be unable to test it yourself.
You also have the issue of how exactly they'll get the image off the
USB stick and onto the physical machine.

This is not an altogether impossible problem, but do be aware of the
scope of potential problems you may encounter.  For Fedora we 
distribute a Live CD image which is put together such that it'll 
boot successfull under any common hardware, physical or virtual.
It also includes a mini installer, which lets you copy the LiveCD
image over to the real OS.  Rather than building a custom virtual
machine image and then copying around the disk image, I think you'd
be better off taking a Live CD image, and tailoring what's included
in that. Since that already has been designed with hardware portability
in mind. 

> Suppose the answer is no they cannot play a Fedora 11-created virtual 
> machine on their own virtualization software. Is it possible to take the 
> virtual machine file and clone (part of?) it to a hard drive such that 
> Ubuntu can be booted from the hard drive?

Ubuntu questions are best asked on Ubuntu mailing lists. For Fedora we
have a Live CD image that can be tailored to do the kind of thing you
are after, more or less just be tweaking the kickstart file used to
build it.

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