Andy McKay

Jan 19, 2009

Using VMWare

Just got a new MacPro at home and that's given me the development setup I've wanted for quite a while.

I've been becoming more and more impressed with VMWare and we started using it in quite a big way at Blue Fountain for development. There are so many advantages for me that I've switched to making all my sandboxes VMWare installs.

This morning I discovered an issue with running the python twitter module on mod_wsgi - namely it blows up with "[Errno 25] Inappropriate ioctl for device" since mod_wsgi tries to use os.getlogin(). Fixing this would mean simulating mod_wsgi and the Arecibo setup.

This took a few minutes, just ran a script to copy my base VM over to a new vm:

import shutil
import os
import sys
source = "/Users/andy/Documents/Virtual Machines.localized/base.vmwarevm"
dest = "/Users/andy/Documents/Virtual Machines.localized"
assert os.path.exists(source)
if len(sys.argv) > 1:
    name = sys.argv[1]
    print "No name specified"
dest = os.path.join(dest, "%s.vmwarevm" % name)
print "Starting copy of base virtual machine to: %s" % name
shutil.copytree(source, dest)
chunk = source.split('/')[-1].split('.')[0]
for filename in os.listdir(dest):
    if filename.startswith(chunk):
        oldfile = os.path.join(dest, filename)
        newfile = filename.replace(chunk, name)
        print "Renaming virtual machine file from: %s to %s" % (oldfile, newfile)
        newfile = os.path.join(dest, newfile)
        shutil.move(oldfile, newfile)
print "Fixing config file"
for ext in [".vmx", ".vmdk"]:
    config = os.path.join(dest, "%s%s" % (name, ext))
    data = open(config, "rb").read()
    data = data.replace(chunk, name)
    open(config, "wb").write(data)

Pointers to more detailed code or tools for doing that appreciated. After starting the VM, I just ssh in (since its got my ssh keys on) and start apt-getting the couple of things I need to run Arecibo (mostly openid related. Editing the files is easy, I just use MacFusion to do an SSHFS mount of the files on the server.

After that the combination of the browser, a terminal window and Textmate and I could be editing locally. Except, of course, I'm not. Everything it's own little sandbox and they can't pollute each other.

There are tools like virtualenv for Python which are great. But let's face it as a consultant in the past I've done Java, PHP, VB and all sorts of icky stuff.

For a consultant, this is a crucial tool that used to be satisfied by having a room full of naff old boxes - no more. Oh and best of all I don't have to mess around with building on OS X which can be it's own barrel of fun.