I've now been trying out VMware Player and the Browser Appliance (running on Windows XP) for a few days. A couple of nights ago I installed RealPlayer so I can view BBC news videos. (For some reason I can only get this to work in the default Firefox 1.0.7., not the alternative 1.5.0. RP is listed as a plugin in the former, but not the latter.)
What I would really appreciate though is some guidance on how best to configure VMware and Browser Appliance for maximum security and useability.
The "Getting Started Guide" (from the vmware website) says:
"By automatically resetting the environment after every use, users safeguard personal information such as passwords, account numbers, browsing history and other personally identifiable information. The Browser Appliance can be configured to automatically reset itself after each use so personal information is never stored permanently.
Protect your PC against adware, spyware, and other malware by browsing the Internet with Mozilla Firefox in a virtual machine. The Browser Appliance leverages the isolation capabilities of virtual machines to prevent malware downloaded in the browser from propagating to the normal desktop."
I am getting a bit confused about the two modes: preserving changes (persistent mode
) and reverting to original state on shutdown (autorevert mode
). Ideally, what I would like to achieve is the blitzing of any personal information, spyware etc when I finish a session (as surely this is the whole point of having VM/BA?) but retain eg any new folders created or programs added post-installation such as the aforementioned RealPlayer (because, in the case of the latter, this for me is an essential for surfing). Is it possible to achieve both these aims simultaneously?
It appears that you can configure both VM and BA.
In Player>Preferences, you can set either "suspend the virtual machine" or "power off on exit".
The Browser-Appliance.vmx configuration file defaults to preserving changes on shutdown. If you want to revert on shutdown you edit the file by adding the three lines given in the Guide.
Where I start to get really confused is the procedure for closing the BA. There seem to be two options. You can:
1. End your current session in persistent mode, and here VMPlayer can be set to either suspend on exit or power off on exit. There is one set of instructions for both.
2. End your current session in autorevert mode, and discard all changes to the virtual machine. Under this option there two sets of instructions: (a) for when VM is set to power off on exit and (b) for when VM is set to suspend on exit.
The Guide mentions that setting the Browser Appliance to revert on shutdown will cause the Browser Appliance to discard changes you have made in the current session
[my italics]. So does this mean that, as I have already installed RealPlayer and closed down in persistent mode, that if I now open up again and change to autorevert mode RealPlayer will not be removed because it was installed in a previous session?
If someone could help me through this maze, I'd be mightily grateful, as I can't seem to work out which combination of options I need to set to achieve maximum security and