Yesterday, the VM Player and UbuntuBBC had an article about the data ticking timebomb: the problem that old digital files are getting less accessible because these files can’t be read by newer versions of software. This particularly happens with proprietary binary file formats:

The pace of software and hardware developments means we are living in the world of a ticking time bomb when it comes to digital preservation

The article goes (indepth) about the two XML document formats (Microsoft’s OpenXML and the independent ODF) that could solve the data problems. Interestingly, the article contains a video with a demo of Microsoft’s Virtual PC which (finally) convinced me to try out both Virtual PC and VMPlayer (VMWare). To make it short: VMPlayer obviously wins. Well, half-and-half.

The difference is evident: Virtual PC emulates a standard stock PC: you can assign more memory, diskspace but there’s nothing you can do about the video. Apparently, Virtual PC emulates a ‘stock’ S3 VGA card. On the other hand: In Virtual PC it’s easy to create a virtual machine: in no time I had a Debian Sarge server running using the regular installation disks. This is absolutely educational: However, as said before, don’t count on using ‘fancy-smancy’ KDE or Gnome on Virtual PC.

VMWare’s VM Player, a huge install with many additional components, takes a different approach: you can’t create ‘Appliances’ (virtual machines) from the Player itself (you need the VM Server and the VM converter tool for that I think) but you can try many of the pre-made appliances at the ‘Appliance marketplace’. You can literally find hundreds of ‘appliances’; ranging from snapshots of complete Linux OSes to firewalls (most of them naturally based on Linux or BSD). For example, how about a Zimbra virtual machine, a WordPress Jumpbox, (working) Postgres appliances (~14 MB), backup servers, firewalls and what not. If you run VM Server, imagine the devices you can run and actually use. This is, as they say in ‘nerd land’ “Good Stuff”.

In a couple of hours, I expect the download of the desktop version of Ubuntu to be finished. More on this later, I hope.

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