Batteries and VM Tools Not Included

Virtualization and cloud computing are ubiquitous. Developers should include virtualization tools with their distributions.

Remember as a kid when you opened a present--some new gizmo with flashing lights, cool sounds and maybe a little action--only to find those three little words that extracted every bit of wind from your fully inflated sails? Batteries Not Included. And, remember how frustrating it was to find D-cell batteries on a Sunday? In many parts of the country, it was impossible. You possibly also remember how I wrote, "Wanted: A Virtual Machine OS," last week where I described my desire for a pre-optimized virtual machine operating system with which I could work. Somewhere during an operating system installation, the developers should insert a message that tells us, "VM Tools Not Included."

OK, sure, as I said in that post, "OpenSUSE includes VMware Tools," but come on, who the heck uses OpenSUSE for anything important? It's the community version. You don't use that in a production network.

What we really need is a production grade, fully supported operating system to include the virtual machine tools. And, not just VMware's tools--all virtual machine tools: VirtualBox, VMware, Xen, Hyper-V.

And, like batteries required for a full toy experience, why aren't they included?

Is it a huge amount of irritation to include them with a distribution? No. Do the tools consume a lot of space in an ISO file? No. Is there a cost to include those free tools? No. Does the inclusion of virtualization tools somehow endorse virtualization or endorse a particular virtualization vendor? No.

Then, why not include virtual guest operating system tools as part of the default build?

You'd think that operating system creators would want you to enjoy their operating systems in either physical or virtual form. By including the tools as a customer service effort, it would make our lives as system administrators so much easier. All the various dependencies solved. Linux headers included. Everything pre-compiled, pre-loaded and ready to play nice on your chosen platform.

And, how hard would it be for the tools to load automatically during installation? The Installer should be smart enough to detect the type of disk (physical or virtual) and the disk vendor to establish which tools should be installed. If an installer can detect the type of controller, disk size, disk geometry and calculate a layout, there has to be a way to figure out that it's virtual and do the right thing with that information.

Virtualization and cloud computing aren't brand new and it's time for operating system vendors to step up their games and make it easy to install their distributions as virtual machine guests.

Alternatively, developers could setup a hardware discovery on first boot to find new hardware such as virtual disks, pop up a message that reads, "VirtualBox virtual disk found, do you want to install Oracle virtual machine guest enhancements?" To which, you would answer, "Yes."

I know there are people out there clever enough to do this. If I can think of it, someone can make it happen. So, your challenge, Linux distribution developers, is to alter your favorite distribution's installer or hardware discovery application to discover and automatically install appropriate virtual machine guest tools/additions/enhancements. When you've done so, send me an email so that I can test your handiwork and report back on it here.

Oh, and before I forget, to the toy manufacturers, include batteries with toys, gadgets and other items that require them. Rechargeable batteries would be a bonus but I'm willing to allow you to take baby steps on that one. Include the batteries and mark out the NOT on the packaging. Great marketing strategy that. You're welcome.