Sunday, September 10, 2006

I'll now travel with a sense of security

No, not because of the TSA or any new policies like "no liquids".  Rather because of the VMWare Player (free stuff).

Why would that make me feel more secure?  I've always been worried about my laptop getting stolen, stomped on, dropped or just failing.  If I'm setting out on a two week trip - that would be fatal - I wouldn't be able to complete the trip at all.  The laptop represented a complete "single point of failure" with no backup.

What I've done (and tested of course) is to stage on a 60gb external USB disk (tiny disk, takes no room really)

  • a copy of all of my presentation material
  • VM's (virtual machines) capable of running the demonstrations I have
  • an installable copy of power point (just need the viewer really)
  • an installable copy of the free VMWare player


I'll pack the disk separate from the laptop and if one or the other gets destroyed - as long as I have access to one of them - I'll still be good to go.  Sure, I'd need to borrow a laptop/desktop in order to install VMware and to project from - but I'll have everything I need to go.

You should check out the VMWare player - they have "VM Appliances" freely available as well.  Very nice if you wanted to play with Ubuntu or so other Linux distribution.  These are pre-configured OS images with "single purposes" typically.  For example - their browser "appliance" is an Ubuntu virtual machine configured with a browser as a standalone environment.  The browser appliance lets you surf without worries about adware/spyware and protects your privacy (as the VM can be set to reset each time, as if it were the first time you were using it).  Very nice - part of a much larger list of VM's you can play with.

Oh, and this is good for a laugh.  David Letterman presents a "tribute" to Bill Gates.



Anonymous paul said....

Tom - thanks for the great advice on VMs!

Sun Sep 10, 02:36:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Mark said....

I've just done a similar thing actually - I'm doing seminars around Europe and if my laptop stopped working, that'd be the seminar over. I've got a USB-powered hard disk with my virtual machines on it, seminar notes and slides, together with software and utilities. My VM software is Parallels, which allows you to run the same VM on the Mac, Windows and Linux, although when VMWare comes out on full release for the Mac, I'll migrate to that. I carry the Windows version of Parallels (with a valid license key) on the Disk as well, as it's unlikely I'll be able to get hold of a spare Mac when I'm away from home.

As you say, the laptop is the single point of failure, having backups on a separate disk that is small (hence you'll always carry it) and doesn't require a separate power supply is about the safest way of backing yourself up. I had also thought about placing a copy of the VM on a web-accessible server, but at over 20GB they'd just take too long to download.


Sun Sep 10, 04:47:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous RobH said....

Have you run into any issues with USB speed?

I assume its a USB 2.0 interface, but still the bandwidth seems a little constrained for what you might be doing.

Sun Sep 10, 09:57:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Tyler said....

As a lighter weight alternative, check out I have a 512mb flash drive with runable versions of OpenOffice (including Impress), FireFox, ThunderBird, Gaim, a bunch of Unix utils for dos, a text editor, and SQL Developer.

This wouldn't allow you to demo anything, but you could still do your presentations at least.

Sun Sep 10, 11:26:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

with USB speed

It is quite snappy actually. Not far off from the internal disks as far as the ability to get the bytes from point A to point B.

As a lighter weight alternative
Yeah, I've seen those - but I really need the VM's, without those - I'd be in big trouble if the laptop ever failed. So, having them as a backup (and the drive weighs nothing really, shorter than a pen, less than the size of a deck of cards)

Mon Sep 11, 07:13:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous RobH said....

Do you use specific software for backup, or just drag and drop?

Mon Sep 11, 09:11:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

I use
unison to sync up filesystems.

Mon Sep 11, 09:18:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Alan Barton said....


Great to see you giving the VMware Player a mention. I came across the Player last week whilst setting up my VMware Server (also free).

My next project is going to be to evaluate the "Oracle Desktop Data Center" which uses the Player.


Mon Sep 11, 11:33:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Alan Barton said....

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Mon Sep 11, 11:43:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Alan Barton said....

And another thing...

Loved the Bill Gates video. Although I suspect that when Larry leaves Oracle one of those guys in the "I hate Oracle" club at will have something similar lined up for him.

Mon Sep 11, 11:46:00 AM EDT  

Blogger kevin loney said....

I took it a step further. I got a 250 GB external drive, backed up all the laptops I used, and stored it in a fireproof box. Now I just have to remember to do the backups on some sort of schedule...

Thu Sep 14, 09:06:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Kevin said....

While people may have different views still good things should always be appreciated. Yours is a nice blog. Liked it!!!

Sat Jul 25, 10:32:00 AM EDT  


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