new fog appliance


  • Moderator

    Was thinking of making an ‘appliance’, basically just a ready built fog server vm… might just help people who want to get started quickly with fog? I’m just not sure if there’s any demand for it though.

    Not sure what it would looks like… maybe some lightweight ubuntu build. Would people want a ‘ready to use’ version which you just turn on and then change things as you need like IP address etc? Or would it be better to maybe automate it all? Like when it logs on first time, run a script that downloads the latest trunk and starts the installer?


  • Moderator

    @VincentJ So this kinda died.

    I was so busy this week… it’s just madness at work and I’ve been spending every spare second I have trying to rebuild my win 7 SOE with a new way to manage drivers (I’m going to make a new thread for win 7 deployment, or maybe update my old one, and maybe a win 10 guide too).

    Anyway I’m not really sure what the upshot of this thread was. But I will make a virtual appliance, at some stage. Honestly work is just so busy and shows no signs of slowing up… we have to replace our entire core and edge network (which is huge) plus new core server infrastructure at two main sites all this year… on top of just trying to keep everything running and setting up new businesses everywhere…


  • Moderator

    @Sebastian-Roth

    So that gives us an ISO that installs on whatever VM the user creates and also probably installs on physical machines as well… Everything done :)

    Tom
    People using their hypervisors will often start to get to know this system. Making a VM on ESXi or XenServer or Virtualbox is relatively easy.

    Stops all the discussion about which hypervisor or the specifications of the VM. If it’s easy to reproduce then lets go for it.

    Tom - How much work would be needed to hand make the linux over a standard install of debian with SSH? Debian isn’t too much of a disk hog anyway so is it really worthit?


  • Moderator

    I actually find it relatively fast and simple to spin up a new FOG server.

    Use the Turnkey Linux LAMP stack found here. (A headless Debian 8 base, with pre-installed support tools; Webmin, Adminer database management web app, Web based command line terminal)

    My quick install notes may be of use for someone

    EDIT: It may be worth speaking to the team at TurnkeyLinux.org


  • Moderator

    @Sebastian-Roth FAI looks awesome. I will definately be playing with this - might make my life a little easier here at home with all these weird setups I’ve got running.

    One question - can one ISO install may distros or just one? In other words, can it be a choice?


  • Developer

    @Wayne-Workman While I agree with pretty much all you said about the VM and I had dismissed ISO already I might change my mind now that I have played with FAI a little bit more. My new working place is heavily using this project and I am starting to dive into it as well. Don’t get me wrong - this is not meant as alternative to FOG! It’s just what am going to work on soon and - as it turnes out - might be helpful for FOG as well.

    I successfully setup an automated installation of debian/centos (more to come!) with added FOG installation on first boot. My first intention was to auto-test the FOG installer script on several systems. But now I see this might be adding a new direction to this VM discussion - because FAI comes with a useful command called fai-cd. From the man page:

    This command creates a bootable ISO CD-ROM image that performs the fully automatic installation from CD-ROM without an install server.


  • Senior Developer

    Maybe my two cent’s can matter a little?

    I like the idea of having a VM appliance, regardless of the OS used to do this. I would, for most, recommend using a headless OS. VM’s have a lot of potential, but they also share their resources. I know you all know this already but figure somebody who may happen across this thread, not knowing this same information, would understand more readily.

    That said, because not everybody is as skilled with *nix systems, I agree that a lightweight GUI would be helpful. Maybe having two appliances, a headless and a GUI based appliance would be best? I could, potentially, build a custom appliance for headless using a hand made Linux? (It would be extremely lightweight as I can do LFS and get OS in at around 200 - 500 MiB of use)

    @Wayne-Workman Users most definitely know what they’re getting into if they’re going to be doing an Appliance as such, and if not, we have some pretty decent (albeit not the best quite yet) documentation on how to do simple things such as adding a new disk or expanding a volume. 250GB may be a bit high on the disk space side though and I would recommend maybe making it as small is 50GB. I only state this because We can/should not assume the appliance this is being put on WILL have 250GB. In the documentation we should put something informing the users that it is highly recommended to use a larger disk and give related information (Expand/Add storage).

    @VincentJ While I see where you’re coming from in that having a netinstall CD would be nice, I think it’s a bit too much to expect. If we’re already so worried about users not knowing what they’re doing, why would we give them more opportunity to make a mistake by having them install the OS itself?

    As for the OS to use, whatever works. While I may not be a fan of Ubuntu, Debian is one of my favorites. I may be more comfortable in RH variants, but I am not trying to code the installer to take preference to an OS. If we make an appliance, it should be what the majority will most likely use on their systems if they were to do the install entirely themselves. Because there’s more videos on the net about installing fog that use Ubuntu, I’d actually recommend using Ubuntu. More people are already somewhat familiar with this OS so it would not be any major learning curve, and I have to give credit that Ubuntu is also, in my eyes, one of the easiest linux distro’s to use for those who have NEVER used linux before.


  • Moderator

    @VincentJ said in new fog appliance:

    What use would a GUI serve when the whole of FOG is done over a web interface?

    Copying images, viewing files easily, a web browser to upload files to the forums, easy backups via copy/paste with a mouse. When you’re getting started with Linux a GUI is a comfort, too. Especially for someone my age or younger.


  • Moderator

    @andyroo54

    Ubuntu changes a lot. Even between updates of the same version, and I need two hands to count how many times Tom has ranted about Ubuntu making a change that breaks something in FOG. Red Hat and it’s variants have a winning track record on this battle ground.

    Plus, CentOS is often cited on the net as the best linux platform for servers. I’d rather go with Debian than Ubuntu, but my top choice would be CentOS. There is also a whole lot of documentation for CentOS, and Red Hat documentation is compatible with CentOS as well, since CentOS is built from Red Hat Enterprise Linux source code (with minor changes).

    GUI - yes. Doesn’t matter which one to me. Probably whichever one has the best external-media features. In CentOS 7, “Server with GUI” gives you a basic GUI that is pretty solid.

    FOG Version - 1.3.0. We can play around with a Trunk VM until then.

    Addressing - DHCP. If your setting up a virtual server for production, you probably already have a legit DHCP server that you have access to as well.

    We can include a tool to change the IP address should they want to use something different. I have such a tool already written for CentOS 7 that could be modified easily to just be a run-once thing.

    2 cores - this would affect the architecture of the OS, if we don’t have at least 2, then the OS isn’t 64 bit - and I don’t think that CentOS 7 even supports computers with 1 core anymore.

    One NIC. In my opinion, a multi-NIC fog server is beyond the scope of a pre-built noob-VM.

    Hypervisor platform - as many as we can. Once we have one built, it shouldn’t be hard to move the data to another. And even if we couldn’t, I’d be fine with building the same setup on many hypervisor platforms.

    Where to host? Here and anywhere else that will host it. I’d be willing to be a backup mirror. Others might volunteer as well. This could be a way to “Give back”, hosting the VMs. We’d need SHA1 and MD5 and other checksums for people to verify the VM is legit.

    My 2 cents.


  • Moderator

    @VincentJ Yeah I guess an ISO eliminates the hyper-visor issue… anyway, I’m not looking for an argument, just want to know why not ubuntu.

    And yes I get what you are saying about just doing everything via webconsole, but there are times you need to do stuff on the server, and I think a lightweight gui could be useful. But if no one else agrees then there’s no point.


  • Moderator

    @andyroo54

    What use would a GUI serve when the whole of FOG is done over a web interface? Just make the console say ‘Go to x.x.x.x for web interface’

    as for OS… we could argue all day between Debian/Ubuntu/CentOS and others…

    Same with Hypervisor… we could argue all day about VMWare, XenServer, Hyper-V, Proxmox and thats without Virtualbox/Bhyve/KVM and anything else you can run.

    I know it’s more work… but an ISO would get rid of this argument. How much actual work is it to script an installer of linux and make it run the installer on boot?

    32/64bit - just specify only 64 bit… Can’t think of a good reason not to use 64 bit in this day.


  • Moderator

    I agree with Wayne, I think 250GB should be enough. We can link to how to expand it if they want.

    Someone said anything but ubuntu, is there a reason for this? Wouldn’t we want one of the most widely used distro (behind maybe mint) as the basis of the appliance? My vote is for Ubuntu but if someone can explain why something else is a better choice? Just thinking about, if someone has a basic question about the OS they can just google it and get flooded with tons of answers if we used ubuntu.

    Regardless of OS, should it have a GUI or not? I think it should for sure. It’s very useful for windows admins coming to linux to start off with a gui, even just a basic one. Maybe LXDE. Maybe even gnome…I know you more seasoned linux admins/devs might shudder at that thought. You would think though, if someone doesn’t want a gui, then they are probably experienced enough to be building their own server anyway, so again I vote yes for GUI…

    I also agree the fog installer should run on first startup. But which version should we put in the appliance… trunk or stable? Or should we have both? (maybe a choice in the shell? or two entirely different vm’s?)

    Should we configure static or set to DHCP for the OS?

    Do most people use fogserver as their DHCP server?

    So basically:

    250GB HDD
    1?2? core single socket CPU
    One NIC set to DHCP? Or static?
    What type of virtual machine format? If we go with most widely used it’s probably vmware… but sticking with open source… virtualbox?

    Also where can we host this once it’s made?

    By the way, I wasn’t trying to bash clonezilla, I was probably too harsh, it’s just frustrating when I see IT departments imaging machines manually because they’ve never heard of fog before OR they think it’s too hard to setup.


  • Moderator

    You know what… those people that don’t know what they are doing - so what. If they put their infrastructure at risk and cause down time because they don’t know what their doing, then they need to face the music of that, so too do their superiors.

    Of course our documentation and READ ME that will come with the VM will explain in general that you can use the VM as is or tweak it’s partitions sizes as you need, and things to watch out for. But if the administrator blows off the documentation, we can’t help that, and if they don’t know what they are doing, we can’t help that either.

    As you said:

    @VincentJ said in new fog appliance:

    There is no replacement for knowing your own environment and how it works. We should emphasize that this is not ‘easy peasy’ and will require some level of knowlegde.


  • Moderator

    @VincentJ Then we will just make the VM 8GB and make it mandatory for everyone to expand the /images partition.


  • Moderator

    So now we’ve gone from 250gb to 512gb…

    Next we’ll get the angry person who says their storage broke all their other VMs because they overallocated and filled things up.

    Saying that the other things can be adjusted… The people who don’t know what they’re doing wont know to change them and will manage to break things somehow.

    Happy users might tell a couple of others… Unhappy users are generally much more vocal.


  • Moderator

    Another thing to point out here is as soon as 1.3.0 is released, I’m going to make full-length installation videos for all the popular distros of Linux. I will explain the things I do in the video and link to the written Wiki article that it follows (which I will also create).

    We might not need pre-made VMs if the documentation was more noob-friendly.

    But that said, I still think making a VM would be great fun and… why not? lol.


  • Developer

    @VincentJ said:

    … could you create a netinstall iso …

    Although I kind of like the idea I refuse to go this way. I have looked into building bootable ISOs lately and it’s a very dark place!!! Some people have 32 bit CPU some 64 bit (yes even in VM!) and then some use BIOS and others UEFI which is even more hell then the 32/64 bit issue!! I don’t wanna answer those hundreds of “ISO does not boot on my XYZ” questions.

    Sure we won’t be able to create a VM that suits everyone. But except the disk size (which we can make 512 GB - non pre allocated) all the other things you mentioned can easily be adjusted by really any person being able to download and start a VM! So I don’t see the point of digging into the ISO mud…


  • Moderator

    @VincentJ said in new fog appliance:

    There is no replacement for knowing your own environment and how it works.

    +1,000,000


  • Moderator

    Instead of a VM, could you create a netinstall iso that downloads and installs the OS for you and then launches the FOG installer.

    Smaller download, runs on any VM that has internet access, lets the user set their own RAM, vCPUs, HDD and Networking.

    You will NEVER please everyone… for me a 250GB VHD would be way too big… for someone else it would be way too small…

    2vCPU - reasonable for most, but my home hypervisor wouldn’t run it properly as it’s only on a celeron. 1vCPU, could we run into issues where there isn’t enough CPU? (Neither would a HP Microserver)

    1GB RAM - should run OK… but someone will moan that their low end PC ran out of RAM running it… Someone else will moan that it should have more…

    In order to run FOG, they need to change their DHCP, You shouldn’t force this onto the FOG server because it could lead to them effectively killing their network when their DNS doesn’t work. They need to know what they are doing to some degree or we will just end up with angry people who don’t have a clue moaning on the forums, giving FOG a bad name.

    There is no replacement for knowing your own environment and how it works. We should emphasize that this is not ‘easy peasy’ and will require some level of knowlegde.


  • Moderator

    @andyroo54 said in new fog appliance:

    I honestly think clonezilla shouldn’t really exist… why use that when you could use fog?

    Yeah, I cringed at that statement too. Clonezilla definitely has it’s place in the cloning world. For instance, it’s the most simple way to take an image of a fog server! And also, Clonezilla is for people that don’t have a super-fast network and don’t have an extra computer laying around to be used as a server… or for a network where PXE booting doesn’t work for some reason or another. There are many reasons why Clonezilla is absolutely valid and why it’s needed.

    You can’t compare FOG to Clonezilla. They both image, but it’s like comparing a 1/2 inch short-well socket to a 1/2 inch deep-well socket. Both sockets will turn a 1/2 inch bolt but each one is superior in different circumstances and spots.


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