Saturday, March 16, 2013


Ok, lame title. Sorry.

Well … I have been thoroughly dipped into Linux for a while now, as I am getting ready for the cross-platform testing phase for this feature that has dominated every waking hour for about a month and a half. My Windows testing is trivially easy, as everything runs smoothly with Windows, VMware and Eclipse. No issues at any time.

Linux has been painful, though, as there are literally hundreds (or even thousands) of options for everything from the chosen distribution to the desktop manager and every possible application package. So finding a quick path through is a matter of finding an adequate distribution and telling VMware to install it with the downloaded ISO file for the distribution (which of course mimics an installation CD.)

In fact, I have been using a SUSE desktop VM that has given me only one issue: for the life of me I cannot get networking to function. How thoroughly annoying.

So once I got my new VMware 8 installation on my laptop, it made sense to create some new VMs with everything functioning. And sure enough, my Windows 7 VM (with a separate and fully valid license for the OS) works perfectly. It is in fact a joy to use on my 8 core behemoth. I give it 6GB of its own RAM and 4 of the cores and off we go.

Now I want to do the same for Linux, so I chose a popular UBUNTU distribution, version 12.10 – the latest. And the installation went swimmingly. The desktop environment is a tad goofy, but I got used to it within a few hours. And the network works perfectly.

But the fricken shared folders via vmhgfs will not work no matter what I try. I have tried all the tricks to get it to mount and I have tried downloading and installing the open-vm-tools package, all to no avail. So that’s it … Ubuntu gets punted. I am looking now at the SUSE distributions, and in fact am going to try to download a prepackaged SUSE Desktop VMware appliance from the VMware site. In preparation for that, I took a look at this excellent video, comparing two of the many, many desktop managers available. KDE and GNOME are both quite good, and my last SUSE had GNOME. But the distribution I want to try has KDE, and after watching this video, I am itching to try it out. So here we go …

Update: I gave up on a tiny appliance called LAMP, which comes with command line only and the Debian variant of Linux. It was quick to download, at 162MB and fast to start up, but it failed while trying to get the network going. Very frustrating.

And since it was so bare, it hardly seemed worth the effort every time I redeployed it. So I deleted the original and the copy …

I found an environment builder called SUSE Studio ( that lets you choose the parts and build the distribution in many formats. I, of course, chose to build a VMware compatible virtual machine. It is downloading now …


This is a truly wonderful resource for people who want to generate a useful appliance from which to start a fresh new desktop environment in a heartbeat. You really can’t beat that …

One more update will come when I find out of this works Smile

Update: And here it is. I spent literally the whole day playing around with VM images and building my own on the susestudio and in the end, I am going to continue using the one I had all along. This was a very educational experience though, as I fixed the networking in my VM and cleaned up a few other things. I also realized that I should upgrade the VMs that the studio built to VMware 8, which enables more memory and many more features. But no matter … they still forced me to install vmware tools (a hassle) and they mouse grab problem is still there (a bigger hassle.)

So I would recommend that you surf their gallery and just grab someone else’s appliance that matches your needs. *sigh* …

One more thing … I finally got rid of WinZip, as it mangled the expansion of the *.tar.gz files that were downloaded from the studio. No matter what I did, it threw errors or the image came up corrupt. And since WinZip is another “scumware” company that updates the software 3 times a year and won’t leave you alone about it, it is an easy decision to just use 7zip on your PC.

And it turns out that Linux is very good at unzipping these and expanding the tar, so my way of handling this now is to download directly to a USB3 flash stick (Lexar, excellent quality for the money) and then point my existing Linux VM to the stick, and simply right click and say “expand to here,” which does exactly what I want reliably.

Tidbit: “TAR” seems like a goofy acronym, but all this UNIX stuff is from the 1960s (in case you really weren’t around back then like I was) … so TAR just stands for Tape ARchive. Seriously.

SO if you are tired of being badgered by WinZip, you really do have other options. Just sayin’ …