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Generating Linux Appliances from Visual Studio

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Novell has released SUSE Studio, a tool used for creating Linux appliances. Related to that, the Mono team has created a plug-in to generate such SUSE powered appliances from within Visual Studio.

Nat Friedman, the leader of the SUSE Studio project, defines software appliances as:

A software appliance is a full application stack containing the operating system, the application software and any required dependencies, and the configuration and data files required to operate. Everything is preinstalled, preintegrated, and ready to run.

Software appliances come in the form of a file which can be a virtual machine image, an ISO, a USB key image, or an Amazon EC2 AMI.

The concept is simple: avoid all installation and configuration hassles by using a virtual image of an entire software stack: operating system, application(s), configuration data, etc. Such software appliances are best suited to run server applications. Developers know best what are the demands of an application and how to configure everything to make it run properly. The application vendor will provide a software appliance that is easily booted up instead of providing only the application and a large set of instruction on how to set it up.

SUSE Studio generates appliances as Live CD/DVD, VMware and XEN virtual images, HDD and USB images, and will support Amazon EC2 images soon.

Following Novell’s announcement, Miguel de Icaza has announced the creation of a Visual Studio plug-in that generates SUSE software appliances. The purpose of the plug-in is to allow Windows developers to create Linux appliances containing .NET applications. This is especially helpful for Windows developers who might find it difficult to test their .NET applications on Linux.

SUSE Studio has been used as a test case to create VMware and VPC images packaging Mono, MonoDevelop, ASP.NET, Windows Forms running on Linux.

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