v14.0 Optimized Builds - Part 1: OVA & VMDK

I am happy to announce the release of our OVA and VMDK VM builds. 14.0 optimized VM builds can be downloaded from their respective appliance pages (eg. LAMP, WordPress Node.js etc). Alternatively you can download the entire library via one of our mirrors.

New build format: OVA - double click installation

As most TurnKey users would know, we have been providing OVF format VM builds for a while now. For those of you who didn't; OVF (Open Virtualization Format) is an open standard for packaging and distributing virtual appliances. When we initially released our OVF build, it was mostly being used by VMware. However since then, support has been added (and become popular) for many other virtualization platforms.

In theory this sounds grand; however as the standard is somewhat "loose" our previous implementation has not been without issue. Many have complained that our OVF build did not properly declare the architecture of the VM causing issues booting. This problem, some other points, as well as suggested fixes and improvements were highlighted on the forums by community member Dani M. This resulted in a feature request and a related bug report.

Following on from Dani's suggestion, I set to work and did some testing. I can happily declare that the architecture bug is now squashed! :) While I was at it I also investigated Dani's suggestion to replace our OVF with an OVA. An OVA is an archive (container) for distributing OVF VMs (instead of using a zip file as we did previously). It includes a virtual disk image (usually a VMDK) and an OVF (the standards compliant VM declaration). After doing some brief testing it was a no-brainer! OVAs only require a "double-click" to import into both VMware Player and VirtualBox! So for v14.0 we provide an OVA (rather than a zipped OVF) and it is also the new default VM format.

VirtualBox import wizard
    With VirtualBox installed; double-clicking the OVA file automatically opens the import wizard

If you've never used an OVA before and you use VirtualBox or VMware (or one of the other virtualization platforms that supports it) then why not download one; give it a test drive and report back in the comments below?!

Alternative VM format: VMDK

Initially I was thinking that we may be able to replace the VMDK build with the OVA too. However after testing it became clear that it was not as user friendly for alternative VM platforms which support VMDK; but not OVF/OVA. As the OVA is essentially just a tar archive; opening it and extracting the VMDK virtual disk is easy enough. However within an OVA, the VMDK is read only as well as being compressed (optimized for streaming). Some platforms (e.g. KVM) do not support this type of VMDK file. So we decided that for the convenience of users on platforms such as KVM; they may appreciate the ability to simply unzip the vanilla (writeable) VMDK file and use it OOTB.

We decided to keep the included VMX file (VMware VM config file) as well; for any users using legacy VMware products. So the VMDK build could be considered a somewhat legacy VM build. Although as I say; it is still very useful for KVM import; as well as reported success of use with Xen HVM. It is also still usable within VMware (import via the VMX) and VirtualBox (manually configure the VM and add the VMDK file as the virtual disk) for those who like doing things the hard way! :)

The value of Community

So once again; together we demonstrate the value that you; our community members provide for TurnKey. Value which we can then return! So even though sometimes we may be a little slow to respond on the forums; or slow to implement great suggestions, please be assured that we always encourage users to get involved and always make a point of listening. Please do not ever hesitate to share your thoughts and ideas. Feel free to comment (below), use our forums and/or post bug reports and/or feature requests on our GitHub Issue tracker.

Also make sure you subscribe so you don't miss out on up and coming announcements regarding other optimized builds (coming soon).

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And next stop lxc format for proxmox users??

I hope so.


Jeremy Davis's picture

Thanks for your kind words. Have a look here! :)


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