Thursday, July 22, 2010

StackVM makes virtual machine sharable and accessible from web browsers

Latvian programmer and geek Peteris Krumins along with his American partner James Halliday are working on an pretty neat project called StackVM. Using StackVM users will be able to access and run virtual machines right within their browser, something like Microsoft is doing on their Windows 7 test drive site, only much more accessible and without requiring special plug-ins. StackVM will even let people embed virtual machines in their blogs!

stackvm

StackVM will let people run virtual machines on their servers and share the machine with others. Users on a network or on the Internet will be able to run the virtual machine from their browsers and access programs, run codes, and do all kinds of stuff people normally do on a computer. Other user will be able to watch as one worked in real time and can even offer a hand.

Think of Google Docs. Now replace the office suite of Google Docs with a virtual PC running Windows XP or Linux, and you’ve got StackVM.

Watch the video below. They can run StackVM within StackVM!

Krumins announced plans to make networking possible between these virtual machines. Users will be able to drag and drop to create any virtual network topology they wish, with firewalls, switches, etc. “Then we're making what we call "vmcasts" - much like a screencasts, except the computation is recorded, meaning that at any point you can break into the playing vmcast and change the course of computation (and return back to it later).”, he writes.

Krumins mentions a few possible uses scenario:

  • Suppose you're selling software and you want your users to try it before they buy it. Perfect use of StackVM - put your software in the virtual machine and embed it on your products page. The potential customers can try your software before they buy it right from your website!
  • Suppose you're an application developer and have written a program that should work cross-platform. You can easily rent 10 virtual machines with Linux, Windows, MacOS, and other operating systems and test your software. Just drag and drop it into the virtual machines, and you can test your software!
  • Suppose you want to teach someone how to work in Perl in a series of blog posts (like I do), you can embed the terminal with a vmcast in your blog post, and everyone can follow your tutorial, and also try out the examples interactively, in a real shell!
  • You can build a virtual honeypot network and have hackers break into it, then analyse how they did breakins. Or, you can build a huge network and learn routing and networking concepts!
  • Suppose you want to share your work with a group of people. You can easily do it in stackvm! Just send the other people link to your VM and they can connect to it with any web browser. They'll be able to see what you're doing, comment on your work, and if you allow fix your bugs (think pair programming!)

At present, the developers lack the computing power necessary to run a demo, but soon they will be offering time-limited demos to several people a day. The also plan to apply for YC funding later this year.

StackVM is a completely open source project. Interested persons can checkout the code at GitHub.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for writing this up!

    Ps. can you correct "Lativian programmer" to "Latvian programmer"? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I thought of this, searched Google, and there you are. I think this is a great idea, I hope you get the support you need to make a good beta.

    ReplyDelete

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