Eight great virtual appliances for VMware, free for the downloading
The combination of free open source and virtual machines is hard to beat; here are some of the handiest virtual appliances
FOG computer cloning
Linux-based FOG is free and open source computer imaging solution for Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. It ties together a few open source tools with a PHP-based Web interface. FOG runs from a server and doesn't require any boot disks or CDs -- everything is done via TFTP and PXE. With FOG, most of the hardware drivers are built into the kernel, eliminating the need to manually install additional drivers to perform the imaging process on a PC. FOG offers some advanced features that are normally found only in commercial products, such as the ability to reduce partition sizes, resize drive images, and rename target computers.
The FOG server, by default, provides DHCP, NFS, PXE, FTP, HTTPD, and wake-on-LAN services to the clients on the network. Computers on the network that have PXE boot as their first boot device can directly boot the FOG image or choose to boot from the local drive. When booting using the FOG image, the user is able to push an image to the server and store it using NFS, where it could later be pushed down to other computers. A management system controls all the tasks of the FOG server using a browser based GUI.
FOG is available as a virtual machine that can be run on VMware ESX and ESXi, making it quick to deploy on a network, which can be handy during an OS migration or PC refresh. FOG is surprisingly simple to use and offers all the critical features needed in an imaging product.
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