schwarznavy
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

ESXi as small-footprint host on laptop to prevent malware

This may be overkill, but I'm trying to make my wife's laptop as simple to use and secure as possible. Was trying to find a way to basically have it be an Internet terminal, with a little hard drive usage, and with the ability to revert to a snapshot whenever I want.

Is ESXi something that can be used to put on the laptop, and then just have it automatically load up a VM of let's say Window 7 that I have configured exactly the way I want it to be?

Her laptop isn't very powerful so I don't want to have a Windows 7 load, which then hosts a Windows 7 guest. A host with the tiniest footprint possible is best.

I'm sure you guessed...I have 0 experience with any VMWare product except Workstation.

Thanks.

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9 Replies
pthomas2000
Contributor
Contributor

Your suggested solution appears overly complicated. While I have not tried it; I would suggest you will have hardware compatability issues running ESXi on the laptop and getting all the hardware to work cleanly.

I would recommend building a clean install of Windows 7 with all patches and software installed, create an image of this installation using a bootable cd and a flash drive.

When a rebuild is required you can reimage the drive - reversing the imaging process, run windows update and be up and running in an hour or two, depending on the amount of updates required.

Dave_Mishchenko
Immortal
Immortal

ESXi doesn't provide direct access to a VM so you won't be able to access the VM using the laptop's screen and keyboard.  The prior post is a good suggestion.  You could run Linux or XP or a thinned down Win7 on the host and then a VM.  A third option would be a client hypervisor.  There are a few options out there and basically provide what you want with ESXi, but are designed for desktop/laptop use.

schwarznavy
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Hi. Thanks for your replies. What is a client hypervisor? I have thought about running a slimmed down Linux..problem is I'm not real savvy with Linux and though I'm sure I could truck through the learning curve, it would probably take a while until I felt comfortable enough to consider my solution "complete."

I really have been hoping for some kind of small footpring OS whose sole purpose in life was to host VMs, and let users on them interactively on the same box. I guess that last bit is what ESXI doesn't provide. Is that what a client hypervisor is? Any examples of them?

Thank you again.

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Dave_Mishchenko
Immortal
Immortal

A client hypervisor is a hypervisor designed for end user use on a workstation or desktop.  It's a small software layer running on baremetal and providing virtualization services to VMs running on  PC with which the user interacts.

XenClient is one example - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msyvpFqFl0I&feature=related.  VMware was supposed to have one out, but I'm not sure what happened to it.  Windows 8 will also include Hyper-V so that might be an option.

When you're running a client hypervisor you can switch between VMs with a hotkey.  Usually these solutions require another PC for setup / management and you might have to look aronud for something that provides a home / test license.

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schwarznavy
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Yes! XenClient looks to be exactly what I was looking for. I'll play around with it this weekend. Unfortunately, its hardware compatibility list isn't that big, and my laptop isn't on the list. Nevertheless, this is a step in the right direction.

Too bad VMWare doesn't have something like this....yet at least.

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pheda
Contributor
Contributor

Here's another way to resolve what you are looking for...windows 2008r2/7 allows you to boot from a VHD (virtual hard disk, boot from a file), you can create a windows 7 install and than create a vhd image for another windows 7 and boot from there, make all the changes and boot from orig os and take backup of vhd file and thats it....very easy to restore anytime...

below post will help you get started, though thos was meant to run hyperv and windows 2008r2

http://sqlfeatures.com/2011/08/24/prepare-windows-7-to-create-hyper-v-virtual-lab-to-implement-sql-s...

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HitechCityHyd
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Which version of ESXi server would you like to you use ?

if you want to use ESXi4.0 or above version the your laptop or cpu should meet hardware compatability requirement to run on it

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AndySimmons
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

I don't know of a VMware solution that suits your needs. They had a project in development (CVP), but it was dumped. You might want to take a look at Deep Freeze.

You essentially get the laptop working the way you want it, "freeze" it, and every time you reboot, it reverts to the frozen state (by default). You also have the option of making changes persistent across reboots, and having an image available to restore when needed. There is no hypervisor footprint with this approach, but obviously some application and extra I/O overhead.

-Andy VCAP5-DCA, VCP-DV 4/5, MCSE, space camp graduate.
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schwarznavy
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

That sounds really interesting and useful. I just did a little reading up on it.Thanks for all the ideas.

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