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VMware's Ultimate Virtual Appliance Challenge 136

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the get-rich-quick-schemes dept.
Natales writes "VMware has announced that they will be supplying $200,000 in prizes for what they call The Ultimate Virtual Appliance Challenge. Big industry names such as Tim O'Reilly and Mark Shuttleworth are among the judges." From the article: "Using open source or freely distributable components and/or your own code, create the most inventive and useful virtual appliance and win the $100,000 first prize! The Challenge is open to anyone worldwide and will be judged by a panel of industry experts with input from the community."
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VMware's Ultimate Virtual Appliance Challenge

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  • I call dibs on the first virtual toaster.

    Mmmmm, PB&J. :)
  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @03:35AM (#14815001) Homepage
    There's nothing in the rules that says the thing has to run under VMware. So send in something that runs under Xen.
    • From a link in the article:

      Q: What is a Virtual Appliance?
      A: A Virtual Appliance is similar to a 'traditional' Computing Appliance and is designed with a specific function in mind. The major difference is that instead of being built on a physical computing device, a Virtual Appliance is built using virtual machine and can be run on VMware Player, VMware Workstation, VMware Server, or VMware ESX Server.

      • My take :

        Dear Open Source :

        Please, please please start developing as much for us as you do for Xen. We spent heaps of money developing what we have and we aren't making enough back.

        Xen 3 really took a chunk out of our market and is gaining more and more support. We don't care about Xen's market share as much as we care that open source developers aren't building more things around us.

        So we're gonna blow mostly everything on a big fat first prize in a vanity contest and alienate Xen folks even more, rather t
        • by Anonymous Coward
          sorry perhaps this is not the place for my question, but I am just curious how I can get this Xen. I am a real newbie running Suse 10.something, and I was trying to run windows using this Xen (I need it to run things like Origin and EndNote). I got so far as realizing that I need Xen-enabled kernel, but I really cannot find any step-by-step howtoos. Most of the stuff on google is either generic chat, or snippets of code I am not able to comprehend?

          Anybody knows of a good guide? Preferably not asking me to g
          • from XEN wiki:

            1.4. Does Xen support Microsoft Windows? Unfortunately we do not currently support Windows; the paravirtualized approach we use to get such high performance has not been usable directly for Windows to date. However recently announced hardware support from Intel and AMD will allow us to transparently support Windows XP & 2003 Server in the near future. We are working on this and intend to have support available by the time the new processors are available.

            So, you'll probably need dual

            • So, you'll probably need dual core to run it..

              Not really. What the XEN wiki is talking about is the virtualization technologies embedded in future processors. This technology is code-named "Vanderpool" for Intel processors, and "Pacifica" for AMD ones. In theory, the first processors with these capabilities will have hardware-level mechanisms to isolate, and work with, several virtual machines running simultaneously. In theory, this will also make them run much faster than is possible today (especial
              • Just to note, you cannot purchase any x86 kit with virtualisation at this point. It will be at least the end of the year before this is available to consumers.
                • Actually I virtualize any server I sell for free (Xen) .. so do many other providers. We have to in order to make co-located solutions more attractive to the end user.

                  You *can* get Windows running well under Xen in that type of setting. The biggest issue with Xen / Windows is "xen aware" video. Since any co-located server running Win32 is going to be managed via KVM over IP or RDP5, this is not going to be an issue. In fact, its less resource used on a server. Not many are offering it because nobody has cha
              • The grandparent is right. These CPU's equipped with Vanderpool or Pacifica are likely to be the new dual-core CPU's. You are also wrong that the virtualization technology is in Xen's favor. It is not. Rather, it's designed to help VMware, whose performance is lower than Xen because the way hardware devices are virtualized in VMware.
                • I think we have different ideas of "favor" .. I'm factoring cost of ownership, free support, and ease of integration as well as performance.

                  Xen is not an out of the box virtualization solution. You have to spend an hour setting up key pairing and writing a few scripts, and be comfortable with that.

                  However, the people most likely to need that kind of technology, are comfortable with that.

                  Open source is rallying around Xen, and I think you'll see its usability increase drastically in the not too distant futur
                  • In theory, this will also make them run much faster than is possible today (especially in Xen's case).
                    These are your original words, and I am saying you are wrong that it will improve Xen's performance. It won't. It will only make xen easier to install and more compatible. It will, however, allow VMware to run faster. I'm not against Xen. In fact I like Xen for its performance. I just don't want your comments to mislead people.
                    • I am hearing Led Zepplin in my head.. communication breakdown :)

                      You really need to look at the need at hand. What is possible verses what gets the job done are two completely different things. My point is only the "best" solution is relative to the need and interests of the person implementing it.

                      I work in several industries and all of them (now) want to do more with less. Xen (now) allows me to put 2 completely isolated networks (one of them a cluster) on the same 10 servers completely independent of eacho
      • If you're building an appliance, you control all the code and OSes that go on it, what possible reason would you have for running VMWare? If you need windows code, you just run windows. If you need to run windows and linux code on the same box you're probably doing your development wrong! I mean, maybe you want a windows GUI to run a config program for a unix based system... why not just port your unix stuff to windows? Why not make your GUI web-based? Seriously, I can't think of a single reason to ever
    • The rules also don't say they aren't allowed to automatically reject smartasses.....
    • There's nothing in the rules that says the thing has to run under VMware. So send in something that runs under Xen.

      Shouldn't the same things run under both?

  • Can't use Windows (Score:3, Interesting)

    by angryargus (559948) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @03:36AM (#14815004)
    One requirement is "royalty-free distribution", so it excludes Microsoft (I bet VMware doesn't mind that).

    I'm glad to see that VMware finally got an advertising budget, but looks like they blew it all in one promotion.
    • I recently rebuilt the entire Mail Me Anywhere [mailmeanywhere.com] platform as a virtual appliance system. Under QEMU :)

      Entirely built of free software or my own code (it uses MailStripper [eridani.co.uk] as its backend) but due to the nature of both the appliance isn't distributable...
  • by yournic (308333)
    I find it highly humorous that the first article posted on /. I read when I boot up Solaris 10 on VMware is an article about VMware and virtual appliances.
    • I find it highly humorous that the first article posted on /. I read when I boot up Solaris 10 on VMware is an article about VMware and virtual appliances.

      Your sense of humor needs better virtualization.
    • by TheoB (859132)
      I find it highly humorous that the first article posted on /. I read when I boot up Solaris 10 on VMware is an article about VMware and virtual appliances.

      Especially since you read it on the LCD of your Solaris-powered electric toothbrush!

      (Ducks)

  • Mark Shuttleworth (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tim C (15259) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @03:47AM (#14815026)
    Well, I can't say that I knew of him, big name or not, so for those of you who were similarly ignorant, here is a link to his biography [markshuttleworth.com].
  • Write the code to "Dual Boot" windows xp on a new mac-tel. $112,000 and counting.
  • by keilinw (663210) * on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @04:02AM (#14815050) Homepage Journal
    I applaud the application of "incentives" to promote enhancements in society. As the prize money is intended, the result should be a change in the way society works, or at least a change in perception. To date such prizes as the X-Prize and the DARPA grand challenge serve quite a compelling purpose... to enhance technolgy.

    Examining Open Source Software's track record we see that it has made quite an impact on society; even producing a few "kill apps." But, what I am waiting for is the next paradigm shift or revolution. When will it come? What will it be? Will it involve Open Source Software? Nobody knows the answer to such questions, but I have high hopes that such prize money / incentives are capable of producing the next revolution in technology advancements. If not, lets hope so!

    --Matthew Wong
    http://www.themindofmatthew.com [themindofmatthew.com]
    • You didn't just say "paradigm", you said "paradigm shift"!!

      Hell, now my post says it too. Thanks. Thanks a lot.
    • But, what I am waiting for is the next paradigm shift or revolution.

      Then you need a Paradigm Shift Virtual Smoke Detector.

      It will not only alert you to any and all paradigm shifts that may appear in your vicinity, but in between paradigm shifts, you can play solitaire on it.

    • I applaud the application of "incentives" to promote enhancements in society....But, what I am waiting for is the next paradigm shift or revolution. When will it come? What will it be?

      Wait, I have an idea! Call me crazy, but...what if we set up some kind of system in which there were millions of small prizes that anyone could win, just by having a good idea and implementing it. And furthermore, what if we decentralized the whole decision-making process of the exact amount of the prize to be awarded, and t
      • > Wait, I have an idea! Call me crazy, but...what if we set up some kind of system
        > in which there were millions of small prizes that anyone could win, just by
        > having a good idea and implementing it. And furthermore, what if we
        > decentralized the whole decision-making process of the exact amount of the prize
        > to be awarded, and to whom and when it would be distributed

        You could call the implementation of those ideas `products` and you'd call the prizes `prices`. You could set the prize/price
      • It's an interesting idea, but I can see a number of flaws.

        For example, it seems to me that it's likely to reward popularity rather than innovation. There's a very great risk that unscrupulous characters might decide to target specific portions of the general public, like the young, who may prove easily swayed by peer pressure and heavy advertising into giving away all their reward tokens to people who aren't actually innovating at all, but are merely repackaging the same tired old ideas over and over again
      • hmm.. wow o.o .. I think I'll quit my job right now and work on developing that concept - I'm gonna be rich!
      • I suppose it's a little weird to imagine taking government entirely out of the business of guiding and rewarding technological creativity, but I have the feeling a decentralized system of rewards like this could prove to be the most powerful incentive to innovate the world has ever seen.

        The thing is, if the government didn't get involved, why would the average Joe be willing to give away these "prizes".

        Maybe we could make the government threaten people with fines and imprisonment if they don't give away

      • Amen! Amen! Amen!

        Dang, why the heck do people not understand this simple concept? The whole world *is* open source - already - right now. You can go out and create whatever the heck you want and distribute it any way you want already. I, for one, enjoying doing that in an environment in which my contributions are rewarded on a regular basis with a guaranteed supply of 'green paper', retirement fund matching, and medical/dental coverage. Also, I happen to enjoy creating my freely distributed programs w

        • Well...don't forget the old adage: Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach.

          Or, one might usefully add: lecture, complain, editorialize, supervise, criticize, legislate, litigate -- and otherwise stand about telling those who are doing how to do it better.

          My college, a highly geeky place, took as its motto the Latin phrase mens et manus ("The mind and hand"). No mention of os ("the mouth"). 'Cause we know which organs the truly creative person uses most.
    • Here's what I want to see:

      Virtual machine images with no licensing restrictions that can do the following:

      - VMs that distribute work that users can do at home and get paid for. It's the next generation of "get paid for working at home" - find work that requires human review like translation, document review, paralegal, coding bounty projects etc - have VM that feeds work into queues and credits users for work done.

      - GPS Navigation system suitable for embedded use

      - Turn old hardware into a full function dedi
  • Not a single applicance but a virtually partitioned build, verify, package, open source process applicance.
    Tuesday, October 12, 2004 : Twelve Step TrustABLE IT : VLSBs in VDNZs From TBAs [blogspot.com].

    A trust but verify build environment. Using one PC to host a virtual network of locked down servers used to :
    1) rebuild source RPMs and other packages.
    2) compare the rebuilt binaries to downloaded/existing packages.
    3) digitally sign the packages for local install if OK.

    Also maybe add a stage 0, running lint and other

  • by CCFreak2K (930973) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @04:52AM (#14815149) Homepage Journal
    After observing that W32.Mytob didn't run under Windows 95, I read up Symantec's page on it. Appearently, it can figure out if it's running in VMWare, and terminates if it does. I consider that inventive on the writer's part.
    • After observing that W32.Mytob didn't run under Windows 95, I read up Symantec's page on it. Appearently, it can figure out if it's running in VMWare, and terminates if it does. I consider that inventive on the writer's part.

      It's not really that hard. You just query the name of the CDROM/IDE driver. If it's called something like "VMWare Virtual CDROM" then that's a small clue right there.

      There are more complicated ways, but why bother?
    • A lot of virus testing at big companies uses VMWare, so a virus killing itself on vmware is a good idea, from the virus' perspective.
  • Slow down horsey! (Score:4, Informative)

    by GoMMiX (748510) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @04:52AM (#14815150)
    The documentation states you have to be a full time student.

    The article and most documentation fails to mention this piece of information.
    • Where does it say you need to be a student? The closest I see is "no corporate entries" - ie a company cannot submit. Doesn't stop someone working from doing one in their own time and submitting as an induvidual?
    • Are you sure ? Isn't that just for the Best Collegiate Entry ?

      Q: Do I need to be a full time student to qualify for the Best Collegiate Appliance award?
      A: Yes! You need to be able to show proof of your status if your entry is selected as the Best Collegiate Appliance.

    • only for the Best Collegiate prize, the others have no such restriction (link and point if you still think you're right)
    • "The documentation states you have to be a full time student."

      Really? I can't find that in the rules, all I can find is this:

      "WHO CAN ENTER
      To participate in the Ultimate Virtual Appliance Challenge (the "Challenge"), you must be at least 18 years old. The Challenge is open to individuals or teams of up to 10 people (the "Participant"), but not to corporate entries. By participating in the Challenge, Participants agree to be bound by these rules and to all decisions of VMware, which are final, bindi
    • The documentation states you have to be a full time student.

      Just so we're clear, the rules for the Ultimate Virtual Application Challenge [vmware.com] indicate:

      WHO CAN ENTER

      To participate in the Ultimate Virtual Appliance Challenge (the "Challenge"), you must be at least 18 years old. The Challenge is open to individuals or teams of up to 10 people (the "Participant"), but not to corporate entries. By participating in the Challenge, Participants agree to be bound by these rules and to all decisions of VMware, wh

      • Hm Im fairly sure some of those are our allies..although at the very least Cuba has been embargoed forever. What a slap in the face to the (probably non-existent) cuban coders.
    • Mention that you're a Sith Apprentice. That qualifies as a student right?!
    • From the site:

      First Prize $100,000 Second Prize $50,000 Third Prize $25,000 Five Best of Category Prizes -Best Consumer Appliance -Best Developer Appliance -Best Server Appliance -Best Collegiate Appliance * -VMTN Community Choice Appliance $5,000 Each

      * Participant must be a full-time student.

      See, the one asterix connects to the other asterix...makes sense that a collegiate appliance be written by a student, no?
    • The documentation states you have to be a full time student.

      This is completely incorrect, as others have noted.
  • When you enter, you give up your stuff.

    That's a little extreme: if your thing is really good, you might be better off buying appliances (they cost only $150 on up), loading your software onto the thing, and going into business for yourself.

    Furthermore, just entering your thing means you are giving it up. You probably won't win, but you'll be giving up.
  • Ok, color me stupid but I wasn't really sure what a virtual appliance was.

    http://www.vmware.com/vmtn/appliances/challenge/fa q.html [vmware.com]

    Basically a network appliance runing under a virtual machine.
    • So, I didnt RTFA, but I've read the post. Now this wouldn't probally be allowed to win the prize or anything, but it would be somewhat cool to get somthing like SonicOS, or a PIX os, or even a Linksys 54g OS running inside VMWare.

      I'd love to be able to download VMWare images of the PIX os to be able to simulate a network full of Windows boxen and PIX firewalls.
  • beowulf (Score:2, Funny)

    by muftak (636261)
    Imagine a virtual beowulf cluster in vmware! How much faster would your pc be with 100 virtual CPUs...
    • I've done it - it kicks ass.
      Newly deployable nodes as fast as you can add the hardware, highly scalable and the overhead is negligible.
      Actually I should probably call dibs on VMware Beowulf Clusters simply because I already have it set up to demo (or run, if you have clusterable applications to run.)

      $echo 'dibs on VMware Beowulf Clusters...'
  • from the conditions...

    (b) viruses, Trojan horses, worms, time bombs or other computer programming routines related to "hacking" or "cracking" or which damage, detrimentally interfere with, surreptitiously intercept or expropriate any system, data or personal information

    The whole point i use a vmware box for is to test suspect software for such behaviour because it is easely reset and can be simply firewalled and because it really cannot touch te data on my day to day machine.
  • I fail to see how this is anything but free labor in exchange for a chance at a contest prize. VMWare sells the licenses to their software, don't they? This does not exclude them from contributing to open source, but I think they shouldn't dangle carrots out there and hope that random programers will do development for them.
    • Not sure if you know that Vmware player and a beta of their server (used to be gsx?) are free.
      They still charge for their ESX server, workstation and some higher end products, but if you want to just run a virtual machine, you can just download the player free of charge. If you want to create, the server beta is available.
      • Not to mention that we've taken some valuable widgets from our UI and released them under the MIT license at view.sf.net [sf.net]. And the drivers we've put in the xorg tree. And the numerous patches we've supplied to open source projects like gtk and gtkmm.

        There are many developers at VMware that come straight from the open source community. Myself, a Galeon developer, Tomboy developer, VLC developer, xchat-gnome developer, etc. This contest benefits everybody, and we're not doing it to steal people's work. It's a
    • I can't see how this is worse than what Apple did for its WebKit contributors [slashdot.org]. Except here they're mentioning that there's a prize beforehand, rather than retrospectively deciding to award one.

      In fact, I can't see how this is worse than open source development in general, which in your words is "free labor in exchange for no chance at a contest prize". I'd like to refer you both to the keilinw [slashdot.org]'s earlier comment about funding innovation [slashdot.org], and Eric S. Raymond's Homesteading the Noosphere [catb.org] for an explanation o
  • Appliances (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Keruo (771880) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @06:53AM (#14815434)
    Well, after using vmware for some time, networking infrastructure could use more work.
    The one built-in to vmware is awful.

    Few things comes in mind straight off:
    1. Virtual switch device for connecting workstations(think managed ports)
    2. Virtual router for creating networks
    3. Virtual cable to simulate line delay and perhaps errors between hosts
    4. Virtual PBX to simulate phones and modems (modified asterisk?)

    Also, the install scripts in linux version could use some work..
    Sometimes you might want to reconfigure devices without recompiling the network modules.
    • 3. Virtual cable to simulate line delay and perhaps errors between hosts

      On a related (but OT) note, I wish there were an extension to Firefox that would let me load pages that are local (or on a fast connection) but draw them slowly to simulate a slow connection. Something that would say "OK, I've already got this 50kB image in memory, but let me take 10 seconds to draw it anyway to simulate 56k dialup." I'm visualizing a little dropdown in the web devloper toolbar, like the one for styles, that lets you ch
    • Virtual cable to simulate line delay and perhaps errors between hosts

      I knew a guy at Sierra who did that back in 98, to simulate problems like latency and packet dropping between game clients.
    • 4. Virtual PBX to simulate phones and modems (modified asterisk?)

      et voila: http://www.vmware.com/vmtn/appliances/community.ht ml#voip [vmware.com]
  • I think the creators of the the Dual Hand Touchscreen [slashdot.org] would be a perfect entry:
  • I want a Tor [eff.org] virtual appliance!

  • 1. A virtual samaba server on a windows machine in order to access ext3 / reiserfs partitions on a local hard disk.

    2. A virtual browser testbed, multiple virtual machines each running different Browser / OS combos (Linux / Windows / MacOSX), with a script to grab screenshots of each browser and to allow interactive testing of each combo.

    3. Cross platform virtual compile farm.

    4. A virtualized router / firewall within a server - almost as safe as an external box if it gets cracked.

    5. A virtualized DRM media p
  • The value of a computer system model lies not in how well it does specific thing X today, but in how naturally you can program it to do as-yet-unknown thing Y tomorrow; it's easy to write software that meets only your present needs. A set of "virtual appliances," each of which serves some narrow purpose, is just about as bad as one can get.
    • Think about it as a bunch of programs which just have abnormally large bundles of compatibility libraries distributed with them. This means that the people who write the programs don't have to worry as much about distribution hassles, and everything is nicely self-contained in its own folder.
  • by AxisNL (934465)
    I'd go for a boot'n go SAN machine, or iSCSI SAN host, with built in encryption, and an easy, slick looking web interface ;)
  • Finally, no more having to get up and pee during those LAN parties.
  • Potentially the ESX stuff would be useful for the servers at work, but its kind of a side issue I wouldn't realistically be able to spend time on, so the "familiarity gap" remains.

    What would REALLYYYYY interest me is an inexpensive way to run Linux and XP concurrently without the performance penalty of the Host-Guest configuration. A version of ESX limited to only two virtual machines would be ideal. It would definitely have me becoming familiar with that technology.

    Also it would make it easier to slide Lin
  • I can't believe it, it seems like these people have designed the contest without ever defining what it is they're looking for!! What the hell? I know what an "appliance" generally is, a computer pre-loaded with software for doing a specific task. But what the hell is a "virtual" appliance? An appliance with a virtual machine loaded on? Or a piece of software that pretends to be an appliance? It just doesn't make any sense, practically a non-sequiter. An appliance is something you sell as a physical dev
  • I'm sorry. I'm feeling really slow today, so maybe that's why I don't get it. How does one make a virtual application? I mean, isn't the whole point of virtualization is that it emulates a layer of computing so that changes to the applications aren't needed?

    I mean, I read the how to and the examples, and it doesn't seem to be any different than from developing on a non-virtual environment. Somebody, please help me make sense of this!
    • Simple. Once created, a virtual appliance can be shared with anyone merely by copying a file. Since we all have the same "hardware" (VMWare virtualization layer) a collection of pre-built appliances could drive adoption of virtualization...
      • So, the whole point is to treat operating environments and systems like files? Interesting. But I'm not sure that is any better than just making an image of the system you want and installing it directly to the hardware itself, than go through virtualization. Though, it would be useful if it virtualizes radically different enviroments.
  • One of the difficulties with this venture is the limited set of hardware VMWare, and virtualization in general, supports. You get basic audio, hard drives, network cards, USB, SCSI, and video which I'll get to in a minute. But most of the open source effort to date focuses on PCI versions of various tools (capture cards) rather than their USB equivalents. And for really odd hardware that you might wish to use to make a useful appliance, you'll probably need to write at least two low level layers for. Pe

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