With my software selections and settings in place, it was time to kick off a build of my appliance. I could maintain multiple builds of my appliance by typing in new version numbers, and I could create images in different formats by choosing the format I wanted from a drop-down menu and hitting the Build button.
Once my appliance was built, I could download and run it on my local hardware. I found that using a download manager such as Aria2 significantly increased the speed of my image downloads.
One of my favorite features of SUSE Studio is the Test Drive option, which saved me even more download time by enabling me to check out my image while it remained on the SUSE Studio servers. For each test drive session, I had 60 minutes to test out my image before downloading the file, kicking off a new test drive, or tweaking the image further and rebuilding.
My image booted up on the SUSE Studio servers, and I could interact with it through a graphical console that appeared in a new window. I could also connect to my remote image via SSH or HTTP, but I could not initiate outbound connections from the test drive image.
I found the Test Drive feature very useful because creating a software appliance can require many more tweak-build-run circuits than you might expect, and noticing needed changes during the test drive phase saves image download time.
During my Test Drive, I could pull up a list of the files that I'd modified during the test run and choose to add these files to the appliance via the overlay option. From the modified files list, I could pull up a diff to see just what had changed.
In addition to calling on SUSE Studio to build my image for me, and subsequently downloading it, I could save on download time by fetching a much smaller appliance source package from SUSE Studio for local building with Novell's open-source Kiwi image build tool.
Executive Editor Jason Brooks can be reached at [email protected]