Datacenter-like experience on your laptop : VMware AppCatalyst (TP 2)

A couple of months ago VMware released AppCatalyst. This is the slimmed down version of the popular desktop product VMware Fusion. It gives you the ability to run virtual machines on top of your Mac. Bringing you “datacenter-like” experience on top of your laptop.

This difference between Fusion and AppCatalyst is that AppCatalyst provides you with the virtualization engine and you can control it through the command line and APIs, not a graphical interface. So a limited set of control, but it is free to use.

AppCatalyst has been specifically created to accommodate developers. Most developers work with APIs and command line tools in order to get the job done. AppCatalyst provides this functionality and included with AppCatalyst is the Linux operating system project Photon. This Linux platform can be used to host containers (Docker, rkt, Garden, etc. ) which nowadays are used by developers for application development. The whole purpose is to create a “datacenter-like” environment experience on a developer desktop / laptop.

The first tech preview was limited with the amount of features, but the team developing AppCatalyst put a lot of effort in expanding the functionality. So now Tech Preview 2 (TP2) is available with the newly added stuff:

  • AppCatalyst now allows VMs to run any version of Linux, BSD and Solaris.
  • The AppCatalyst location is automatically added to a user’s path (was a manual step)
  • A bug that incorrectly reported the suspend state has been fixed.
  • The new Photon OS template VM with updated VMware tools has been bundled with AppCatalyst.
  • Cross-ported a couple of critical Fusion bug fixes into AppCatalyst.
  • AppCatalyst now allows users to run ESXi VMs (this is an experimental feature)

AppCatalyst Tech Preview 2 can be downloaded here.

Cool Fling : Web UI for ESXi

A lot of new stuff is released by VMware and of course everything is cool stuff, but sometimes something is released that you’ve been waiting for for quite some time. And in my case that’s a web console to control ESXi directly.

I’m using a Mac and always is a hassle to get access to get access to a user interface. There isn’t a client available for Mac and I first had to install the Web Client in order to get access.

Now some great engineers at VMware have released a Fling that gives you direct access to the ESXi host through a HTML5 web interface that can be installed through a VIB file. It’s a simple process that can be found on the Fling page over here. It’s straightforward to setup. It took me 2 minutes following the instructions.

Be aware that all Flings are tech preview, so not everything is working out-of-the-box. But these features work for sure :

  • VM operations (Power on, off, reset, suspend, etc).
  • Creating a new VM, from scratch or from OVF/OVA (limited OVA support)
  • Configuring NTP on a host
  • Displaying summaries, events, tasks and notifications/alerts
  • Providing a console to VMs
  • Configuring host networking
  • Configuring host advanced settings
  • Configuring host services

For more information also have a look at the blog of Willam Lam here. He has more details on the project.