VMware Project Photon: Technical Review for Linux Admins

VMware Photon install on virtualbox boot install screen

My quick and dirty review of Project Photon.

I was very happy to read this week on virtualization news about a new project from VMware called Project Photon.

Why was I happy?

Well, because a couple of posts back I wrote about why VMware admins should learn OpenStack. And how Linux admins don’t prefer vSphere.

I don’t have any proof to support my assumption except for my experience working with Linux Admins and hearing their complaints.

When I saw Project Photon I smiled because I thought I just might be on-target about a Linux admin disconnect with VMware…

I’m sure most VMware zealots won’t agree but then they probably don’t work or manage Linux admins and have to hear it.

What is Photon?

According to the official VMware description Photon is a minimal Linux container host that is designed to have a small footprint. It’s optimized for vSphere, offers container support for Docker, rkt, and the Pivotal Garden container specification, and uses the new yum package manager.

After doing research for this review I couldn’t help but to develop a case of Shiny New Object Syndrome and want to run a quick Photon Demo. Then I got a wild idea and decided to run Photon on VirtualBox.

Hmm. I found documentation for running it on Fusion, vSphere, vCloud Air, and even Google Compute Engine…but no VirtualBox. We’ll fix that right now!

How to install VMware Photon on VirtualBox

First I downloaded the ISO (photon-1.0TP1 @ ~959MB) from the link above.

Then I created a basic Linux VM instance in VirtualBox using the other Linux 64bit choice in the wizard setting and mounted the ISO with the CD.*

VMware Photon

* For the demo I only used a small VM: 1CPU, 512MB memory, 800GB Fixed Disk. No custom settings.

Next I booted the VM and ran the Photon install. After a license screen I got the install options. I picked Photon Full OS install.

VMware Photon

Then I created a password and waited a whole 125 seconds…

WMware Photon

Next I unmounted the CD (ISO) and rebooted. After logging in I ran a few commands to show the demo was real.

VMware Photon

Mission accomplished!

The full install of Photon on VirtualBox took less than 20 minutes.

Will Linux Admins Like Photon?

Whoa…it’s way too soon to answer that!

But it will be interesting to watch how the Linux community reacts to another Linux Distro…

I for one think VMware has finally started to address a disconnect with Linux admins that has been building for years.

This is why I think OpenStack has grown so fast and is becoming the other cloud solution of choice.

We’ll have to wait and see…

What next?

If you are a VMware beginner, download the Photon ISO and do your own demo and review.

I also suggest you learn Linux because it will become the linchpin for VMware, especially if they give Photon special powers when it runs on vSphere.

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