My blog now runs on what is known generically as a virtual appliance. The idea behind an appliance is that the server prep work and software installs are done in advance so you just have to press the power button.
Vmware Player is software that fits inbetween your current operating system and your virtual machine. So if you download the virtual machine from http://www.turnkeylinux.org/ all you have to do is then open the .vmx file and you have a computer inside of a computer that can host your blog. For the wordpress appliance you just have to enter a few different administrative passwords and start blogging. It takes literally minutes to be up and running. Some of the post configurations I did were:
- Set a static ip from webmin so I could forward traffic from my router to a static IP instead of a dynamic IP.
- Upload and activate my theme
- Upload and activate my syntax highlighting plugin
- Run the mysql scripts to insert my posts, postmeta and comments data
- Configure the friendly URLs (a LOT easier than the out-of-the-box wordpress)
Hmm.. yea.. that was it. So if you haven’t read http://dustinandmandy.dyndns-home.com/2011/03/29/setting-up-my-new-wordpress-server-with-gory-detail/ now would be a great time to take a peak at that as a comparison. Especially with linux(or an os you’re not familiar with), configuration can be a nightmare of endless troubleshooting.
My key complaint about a turnkey solution is this; when a problem occurs, how do you fix it? Granted, troubleshooting isn’t the greatest way to learn something, but it is the way I have learned the few linux skills I have today. Maybe the best thing to do is get started with turnkey solutions and then graduate into a roll-your-own solution.
Another point to be made is on security. Turnkey solutions are as secure as you are going to get, however, just like Windows, the more users the better the target. I have always been skeptical of after market operating systems wether it is a pirated copy of Windows or a virtual appliance. In theory, someone could plant a piece of code so low into the system that you will never know its there. That is probably as outlandish as proposing that someone could slip a backdoor into the .NET framework. The core concepts of turnkey and .NET are similar, let an expert do the work so you don’t have to.
The benefits FAR outweigh the costs(if any). I am so grateful for the folks who have taken their time to develop turnkey. I now can explore many other platforms quite easily. What I would like to see is someone with an android development virtual appliance.