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Have a lightweight linux distro that is focused only on booting up VM images. It would be targeted at end users, not servers. It is designed for normal 'semi-techical'/'non-technical' users, so they can have the flexibility of VMs, without the hassle of installing and setting up and configuring of VMs.
could use hypervisors, however in our case, we want this OS to run in as many places as possible, so we shall just only be using lightweight linux distros (like tinycore, or stripped down debian)
The philosophy of VMLinuxOS should be to be as easy to use as ChromeOS. Instead of a browser popping up however, the OS would auto bootup a Virtual Machine image. If there is no initial VM image to boot or the user decides to jump out of the virtualized desktop, a very simple GUI VM image selection menu is show instead.
The VM selection GUI (which is the 'main menu' for this distro), will have a few simple settings for various images. E.g. readonly, internet access, etc... to help maintain the images.
For convenience sake, the underlying host linux, should support a few small apps that allows for remote maintenance and access. For example support should be allowed for VLC connections or ssh connections over the web. Also vidalia should be installed for the few paranoid users, who may want to host the OS as a hidden service.
A laptop can have various VMs, with a few OS set as backup in case an OS gets corrupted. In that case the broken image can simply be deleted, and replaced, without having to spend time reinstalling.
Alternatively, you can set a small VM image to 'read only' and use it to access banking websites. (since you can set images to read only at will, you can still set it to 'read/write' mode if you want to add stuff like 'password autofill'.)
Bit of a diversion - but possibly an interesting development in cheap, niche-use computing. Either as a desktop client, secure virus free web client (for banking applications etc) - or for all manner of other hobbyist usages. [zen_tom, Apr 08 2012]
||I log into one of these at work, it's an IBM branded
box that does little more than boot up and then
offer me the opportunity to connect to one of a
number of network-hosted virtual desktops. Once
a connection with one of the desktops is
established, it's all full-screen ahoy with whatever
the image I'm dialled into. The whole company
runs these, so everyone's machine is each running
somewhere under its own virtual image way deep
in some huge underground server-cavern. It also
makes dialling in from home a trivially different
exercise. Quite impressive, compared to how I've
seen the same problem solved elsewhere.
||I'm guessing in this instance, you're intending on
running the VM software locally - but by doing so,
you're almost spoiling the whole thing. Why not go
the whole hog and totally thin-client the thing
and host all your VMs on some enclouded server,
saving all the worry about getting your images out
of sync etc.
||I do quite like the idea of a sandboxed VM through
which you do your secure stuff. That's a pretty
neat application. I might look into that. Maybe
create some super-secure *nix distribution that
you only use for your most secure transactions.
Hopefully each generation of VM software would
continue to be forward compatible, allowing you
to keep your personal distribution from one
machine to the next.
||In contrast to the whole virtual idea - I'm rather
excited about the Raspberry Pi - which might find
it tricky hosting a VM, but for $25 all in, you
might not care.
||aye that's exactly the idea zen. Its to encourage sandboxing of entire system.
||Also don't worry too much about forward compatibility, I'm pretty sure since the VM image can be a standard one like VirtualBox, it would still be very portable. (Heck, with the right settings and a flashdrive, there doesn't have to be any changes to the hdd at all).
||Hosting VMLinuxOS on raspberry Pi would be a good idea as well. I think it means you could in theory have a cheap secure login place (e.g. One VM images cloned and configered for different websites), and hooked up to your TV.