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Virtual Appliances Can Save You Time when Virtualizing Lion Server

You can save yourself the time of installing Mac OS X or Lion Server if you are running in a virtualized environment by using virtual appliances.

A virtual appliance is a preconfigured virtual machine, complete with operating system and applications. You don’t have to install the OS or the server software on it. Just download the virtual appliance and fire it up with your virtualization software.

The major virtualization companies offer free virtual appliances that contain open source operating systems, such as Ubuntu, Linux, or BSD Unix. They come preinstalled with one or more servers. You’ll find virtual appliances preconfigured with DHCP and DNS servers, as well as database, mail, web, and wiki servers.

Parallels and VMware, the two major makers of virtualization software for Macs, both offer free virtual appliances at their websites. When you download a Parallels virtual machine, choose the Mac download. You get a virtual machine in a standard Mac DMG image file that mounts on the Desktop. Inside is an installer that automatically creates a virtual machine in Parallels Desktop or Parallels Server.

VMware offers a very large selection of virtual appliances. This includes free open source virtual appliances, such as servers configured on Ubuntu Linux, as well as commercial virtual appliances for sale from commercial developers, such as Red Hat Linux.

VMware’s virtual appliances don’t have Mac-specific installers, so you have to install them from within VMware Fusion. Virtual appliances from VMware work on all VMware virtualization software for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

The virtual appliances downloaded from VMware and Parallels don’t work on each other’s virtualization software. However, both companies supply software that converts the other company’s virtual machines into their own formats.

When you start an OS from a downloaded virtual machine, the OS presents you with a login screen. You’ll find a login name and password either on the website or in a readme file with the download.

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