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VMware Announces UVAC Winners 65

muff1253 writes to tell us VMware yesterday announced the winners of the Ultimate Virtual Appliance Challenge (UVAC). The contest, which started at the end of February, was designed to test teams on their ability to create a "pre-built, pre-configured, and ready-to-run" application that could be packaged with operating systems in virtual machines.
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VMware Announces UVAC Winners

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  • For the lazy (Score:1, Informative)

    From TFA:

    First prize was awarded to Mikko Hiltunen, Erno Kuusela, Joachim Viide, Mika Seppänen and Jani Kenttälä of Oulu, Finland, for creating HowNetWorks. HowNetWorks is an always-on, all-in-one, personal network troubleshooting console for those tired of the "laborious work" of network debugging. No more writing complicated sniffer filters, no more searching for ways to reproduce failures. HowNetWorks takes the next step in sniffer evolution-simply fetch the relevant data and throw it to

  • What a great idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @01:49PM (#15921086) Journal
    It seems like the top three winners are working in the right direction. I setup a virtual machine at home (albeit using Virtual PC) after Symantec kept quarantining all of the fun tools that I wanted to work with. Virtual machines provide a great environment for setting up network tools that might otherwise not get along with applications and services running on a production server.
    • One such "tool" that would work great on a virtual machine because the host machine rejects it is a virus. With all benefits you get some drawbacks.
      • by dave562 ( 969951 )
        One such "tool" that would work great on a virtual machine because the host machine rejects it is a virus. With all benefits you get some drawbacks.

        Granted. Yet in the case of the host machine identifying a security tool as something that needs to be quarantined, the VM is a great way to go. I can still have my secured OS, and run all of my security tools without having to degrade the security of the host.

    • I'm just wondering why more applications aren't packaged pre-installed on data keys. Consultant who doesn't like Outlook or Thunderbird? Plug your Eudora into the USB port on the front of the machine and run it from there. No reason why software needs permanent residence to run.

      Yes, I know, awkward, systems aren't written that way. But we can change the rules, can't we?

      • by dave562 ( 969951 )
        I'm just wondering why more applications aren't packaged pre-installed on data keys.I have a data key with all of the sysinternals utilities on it that I use in conjunction with the Ultimate Boot CD when I need to troubleshoot and repair Windows boxen. It would be cool to have full blown applications on a key, but until Microsoft does away with the registry and until applications stop looking there for config information, the idea of apps on a data key is a pipe dream. =/
  • Umm... why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Valar ( 167606 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @01:50PM (#15921099)
    First of all, I had no idea what the article was about from the summary. Once I clicked through however I became even more perplexed, for a different reason.

    The idea behind the contest is that you build an application bundle that can be run "out of the box" inside of vmware, with no configuration or installation.

    So the question is, if you are going to target your application to a virtual machine, why use vmware? Why wouldn't you use java or python, for example?
    • Re:Umm... why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @01:57PM (#15921169)
      'Virtual Machine' and 'Virtual Hardware' are 2 different things. This isn't a VM in that it runs JIT code. It runs an operating system in a virtual environment. VMWare wanted some killer apps for this and so they have sponsored a contest so people will create them.
      • I understand the difference, but the apps they show off would be better implemented as single Java or Python apps -- even .NET/mono -- than as a whole OS inside a VMWare machine. I understand why VMWare did the contest the way they did, but the fact is, 99% of the time, you're using VMWare because you have to run two different OSes, not because you want to. For instance, you would run it on a desktop because you're addicted to Linux, but you have that one little Windows app holding you back.

        But, even ther
        • Re:Umm... why? (Score:2, Interesting)

          by simp ( 25997 )
          Welcome to the age of abundance and paranoia.

          I want my base OS to stay clean and healthy. I want to test/run/use many different programs, some from sources that I can not trust/will not trust. But these days CPU power is getting cheap and memory is cheap. That is why a virtual machine is usefull. I load a VM with a certain program or set of programs, use it and throw it away when I'm done.

          I don't even care that much about runnig two different OSes, most times the OS inside the VM is the same as the host OS.
          • Those who do not understand Unix are doomed to reinvent it, poorly.

            If the software doesn't require root/admin, run it as a limited user, or in a Wine jail (and as a limited user). If it does require root, run it in a chroot jail -- I don't think Windows can do that, but Wine can. If it requires kernel modules/drivers, then you need to consider: UserModeLinux under a limited account? Or do you really need a virtual machine?

            I guess at this point it's about convenience -- you're used to doing it the way yo
        • Re:Umm... why? (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          99% of the time, you're using VMWare because you have to run two different OSes, not because you want to. For instance, you would run it on a desktop because you're addicted to Linux, but you have that one little Windows app holding you back.

          That may have been the case in the past, but now with VMotion, the advantage for servers is huge. It can simplify backups, isolate failure, and you can upgrade your hardware incrementally without ever having to move your OS/apps to a new box. Even if we didn't use bot
        • Re:Umm... why? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @02:47PM (#15921580)
          but the fact is, 99% of the time, you're using VMWare because you have to run two different OSes

          Maybe in your world but that is a small part of what using virtualization is about. You are looking at things from a desktop and software view, you need to think about virtualization big picture. I am not going to present a powerpoint presentation as I can not give the big picture view in a /. post but, the bigger picture you look at, the more the concept of virtualization makes sense for many uses. It is not for every process, every server, or every company either. Here [] is a good place to start. Redundancy, load balancing, uptime, ease of upgrading and adding new hardware, monitoring, and automation, reduction in costs to name some of the big reasons.

          In our organization, we swapped about 15 3-5years old servers that were no longer under warranty. We replaced them with 3 new physical servers and VMWare ESX. Without VMWare, we would have to either consolidate server processes onto less new machines, or buy 15 new servers (an assload faster then we needed even for a middle of the road server like a HP DL380 G4) and maintain status quo. This whole process of conversion was completed without having to reinstall a single OS or configure any new installs. We used the P2V tools (physical to virtual tools) to convert the existing install base to the virtual servers. We now have complete redundancy for all of our physical hardware which we did not have before AND we bought 12 less servers. The setup required more space on our SAN but less space in the physical servers which is the industry goal with "space consolidation" anyway. Of course we had some older servers that were not moved over to VMWare, they are very IO and memory intensive. They would work in VMWare but we do not want to drag down a whole VM server because of one virtual machines load requirements.

          I do not work for a virtualization company so no plugs are intended here. I do realize the industry is going this route and not because everyone else is doing it or because it is the newest buzz word, it just makes good sense in many situations.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Redundancy, load balancing, and uptime are all things fairly well done in ways other than virtual machines. Ease of upgrading and adding new hardware -- you just need your software to be hardware-agnostic, which is why I mention .NET/Java. Monitoring and automation of what, exactly, that isn't already done with bash and Nagios?

            Reduction in costs is basically saying that some other reason you listed worked. Virtual machines by themselves increase costs by requiring more hardware -- they will never be as f
        • Re:Umm... why? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by LurkerXXX ( 667952 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @03:01PM (#15921676)
          but the fact is, 99% of the time, you're using VMWare because you have to run two different OSes, not because you want to.

          Really? Where exacty did you get this little factoid? Out of your ass maybe?

          I want to run VMWare with the same OS a lot.

          Sometimes I want to keep the primary OS uncluttered.
          Sometimes I'm installing stuff to try that I just want to test and don't want to install on my real machine until I know the software.
          Sometimes I'm installing untrusted software (something off bittorrent perhaps).
          Sometimes I'm visiting untrusted websites that require IE, and if my host machine is windows I don't want to open it up to possible IE expoits.
          Sometimes I'm just trying to keep my individual server apps isolated so that I can move them to different hardware if any of the apps starts getting used more and consume more resources than available on the host computer.

          Personally, although I use a number of different OS's, all my machines tend to run more copies of the same OS as the host OS than of a different OS.

          • Congratulations - you all must be the other 1%...
            • Congratulations - you all must be the other 1%...

              Some of us do more than play with computers in our parent's basements.

              I have used VMWare GSX routinely for years in data centers running multiple VMs of the same OS. Sometimes for redundancy, sometimes so developers can have a "sandbox" to easily revert to. Sometimes to make an easily-deployable app server that needs to go to many locations. Sometimes because old crusty apps don't play well with others, and its easier to get vendor support when their
              • "Some of us do more than play with computers in our parent's basements."

                Wow, really? Some of us also have the ability to recognize a joke when they see it.

                I was actaully pointing out to the OP that his 99% mark may be a little low...

                I know and understand all the uses for a VM environment, yes I am a big geek too. I have been playing around on computers myself since 1981 - it has been a long while since I have seen the basement of either of my parents...

                That blast of air was the joke going over your head...
          • Let's see... The first four of your reasons could theoretically be solved with a chroot jail, except Windows doesn't do that, to my knowledge. Or if it's a Windows app, a Wine jail. And something off bittorrent, at least for me, usually means a game, so a Wine jail makes more sense -- it can run at near-native speed that way. Fifth reason just seems stupid to me -- how does a virtual machine make this any easier than copying config files?
            • Hmm, interesting. You still didn't name your source for that 99% fact. How come? Maybe because it's crap that you pulled from your ass? It might be how YOU use VM's, but it isn't how lots of the rest of us use them.

              "In theory the first for reasons could theoretically be solved with a chroot jail. Except windows doesn't do that".
              So, when one of the points was specifically about running IE in windows, then this theory is rubbish. Scrath that.
              And if your base system is Windows, scratch it for all of them
              • My original argument was that we should be spending more time fixing Wine and less time doing VMs, because Wine is inherently a better solution when it works.

                If it's a server, I usually have a lot more choice, so moving config files is pretty much everything. Library hell does not exist when you use a good package manager, and mine (Gentoo's Portage) has a config file which says which packages I want installed. Thus, all I have to do is copy config files to the new box, run "emerge world", and all the sof
        • Original /. post back on 2/28/06 []
          "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 in
        • Nope. Best reason for virtualisation is the ability to roll back an environment, instantly. My group looks after a network of about 2000 servers. We can't make them idiot-proof, but having a vm image to fall back on makes them at least idiot-tolerant. Stuff the graphics, we need our stores to stay open.
          • In a server environment... hmm...

            Ok, one possibility is disk images. Cheaper than a VM, use no resources while the site is up. Of course, rolling back means you need to boot.

            I guess that's not instantly. Another possibility in pretty widespread use is to have redundancy, instead of rolling back. Mysql replication + DRBD + heartbeat, and you can have another server on hot standby, ready to do an IP takeover, and no one has to notice.

            What kind of faults do you usually see -- crashes or deletion/corruption
    • Re:Umm... why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by andrewman327 ( 635952 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @01:58PM (#15921184) Homepage Journal
      So the question is, if you are going to target your application to a virtual machine, why use vmware? Why wouldn't you use java or python, for example?

      The contest was sponsored by VMware therefore it is only natural that they used their own platform. Look at the domain of TFA.

    • The short answer is that, as an end user, I can take a lot more control over what this VM is doing than I can my java VM is doing. I can allocate whatever level of processing I want and I can use my firewall/proxy server to control what your VM can see while still letting my main machine do whatever it wants.

      My 'other' guess:
      PC-104 board + vmware + vmware appliance = hardware appliance

      So... with a little modification I could take take one of these appliance and have a nice pretty looking piece of h
    • Re:Umm... why? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @02:09PM (#15921285)
      Just to point out what we (Mike Jett and Kennieth Goodwin - Third Place Winners) did, we built a .NET (Pretty) GUI and basically set it up so that it generates the appropriate configuration files for Shorewall based on what the "Windows" user wants to Throttle/Block/Pass in an infinite (almost) amount of ways. That is then made into an ISO and VMware is used to run the LEAF (Linux Embedded Appliance Firewall - 2.4MB) OS w/Shorewall and the generated configuration files. Windows then has the appropriate Protocol (TCP/IP) "Un-Bound" from the physical NIC and then "Bound" to the VMware Virtual NIC which is, un-beknownst to Windows, the guest virtual machine. The virtual machine has a NIC that is bridged with the physical NIC so that it's connected to the outside world.

      Basically it gives you a Windows OS with the Firewall and Security power of a Linux based machine...

      Kennieth Goodwin (
      • Our company uses LEAF in a number of our customers' firewalls. Is your GUI code available for use with "real" LEAF/Shorewall configurations?

        We've used Webconf in a *very* limited number of sites. As a rule, our philosophy is that any kind of remote access to a firewall is more risk than we want. However, I would be *very* interested in seeing how your scripts work, and what you have to have open on the LEAF box. If it's less risky than running an HTTP server, it would be something we would consider.

      • Kennieth et al,

        First off, kudos for a very interesting entry & your 3rd place win.. I'm sure it was very well deserved.
        I was wondering about the challenges of designing a hybrid OS packet filtering system due to the differences in the IP stack implementation between these 2 OS's. I'm not overly familiar with the ins & outs of the XP IP stack, but with older win32 systems, the differences between the MS stack & the Linux/BSD stacks were significant.

        I understand that you basically created a win32
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Actually we are not manipulating anything at all. Just taking a linux box with shorewall like you would if it was stand alone setup.

          So, in short, everything is based on what the stack of the packet filtering OS (*NIX) and the standards that it adheres to!

          To answer you question about any problems, we are still looking for feedback from the community as far as bugs and what-not go. Also looking for developers. It's been released as Open Source and can be downloaded either from or http://sievefir []
    • So the question is, if you are going to target your application to a virtual machine, why use vmware? Why wouldn't you use java or python, for example?

      Lets say you wanted an instant-on LDAP with Apache and mysql and this and that. To do it in java you would have to recreate all of those in your application.
      The idea is a virtual physical machine, not the abstracted machine which java uses.
  • acronyms (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I dont know whats sadder, the fact that theres a UVAC acronym, or the fact that I was able to discern what it means simply from the inclusion of vmware in the rss feed.
  • by Duncan3 ( 10537 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @02:15PM (#15921334) Homepage
    It looks like all the winners are just some application that already works just fine, in a VM.

    That's great and all, but wouldnt it work EXACTLY the same if you did an "install with defaults" on your normal system?

    Just saying, you might save 500MB, or even 900MB of download in some cases. One is only 3MB, wow!
    • !@#$%!@$ They are all available only via torrent.

      That 3MB is gonna take all day :(
    • Well some of them might, if you had a Linux machine. By encapsulating them inside a minimalist VM image, you can make them run on any host OS. So that even if I'm running Windows, I can run a bunch of Linux network monitoring and debugging tools, without creating a Linux system and installing them. (And configuring, etc.)

      If you want to do one of the tasks that one of the VMs perform, and nothing else, downloading and launching a VM is probably a lot easier than downloading a piece of software and installing it. Plus, it doesn't leave crap all over your system or risk compromising your security (as much -- obviously you're still running code, but a VMWare image can be run as a user process, I think).

      Plus when you're done, you just shut the VM down and either delete the image or save it for next time.

      In effect, what they do could easily be replaced with a bootable CD or DVD image (in fact, I'd be surprised if someone didn't have a VM-to-BootCD converter), with the advantage as a VM that you don't need to take down a running system in order to run them.

      Plus, adding a minimalist OS like LEAF only adds 3MB or so to the program binaries, apparently -- and I don't think that the VM image format overhead is that much more than a comparable disk-image format (ISO). The downsides are less than you're making them out to be, and the convenience factors are definitely in their favor.

      Does it make sense for every application to come with an entire default-install of CentOS? Certainly not; but might it be worth the overhead for some specialized, configuration-intensive application to come with its own preconfigured OS? Definitely. There are a lot of people who are capable of running a VM, who don't have the ability or the interest to set up something like Apache2/modPHP/Perl, Smoothwall, or Squid themselves. (All of which I've seen or heard talked about as VMs.) To be able to just download and run something, and have it act like a distinct server on their network? That's pretty slick.
  • by pp ( 4753 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @05:31PM (#15922840)
    As a coworker of the winning team, the main reason for doing an appliance version (apart from participating in this contest) was packaging. We actually do have a "native" windows port of the code (using python, pygtk etc.), and it's about 25 MB zipped when containing all the dependancies, of which there is really way too many to ask a random user to install so it all has to be packaged into the same thing, really.

    The vmware image is about 72 MB bzip2-compressed which includes a stripped-down Ubuntu, X11 etc. And it runs on Windows, any random Linux distro that might have an old pygtk/cairo/whatnot that doesn't work with our code, OS X (with OS X vmware) out of the box. Nice even if you do lose some performance and run into issues inherent to virtualization (accurate timestamps and promiscuous mode inside the virtual machine are tricky and do have limitations!).

    We mostly run and develop it natively ourselves (on FC5 and OS X), yet we run into "AAARGH! How do I get
    a new enough Y for OS X to run this" discussions every week or so.
  • I want to be able to run a browser in a VM , and play WMV videos. Does one of these do that, I know Mplayer may be illegal in the US, so is Freespire the only one that has it? Or is there another virtual appliance that has a browser and can play WMV?
  • The VMware web site often gives the impression that the company employs a lot of people who have no understanding of computers. The announcement has no links to the winners! The web pages don't display well in Firefox. There are numerous other flaws.

    If I didn't already know that VMware is a reputable company, I would never buy anything from a company with such a clueless web site. Obviously someone at VMware thinks that non-technical people have something valuable to contribute to a technical company, even though they cannot understand what they are doing.

    Winner: HowNetWorks []

    Second Place: Trellis NAS Bridge Appliance [].

    Third Place: Sieve Firewall []

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva