Default Settings Template for all new VMs

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Default Settings Template for all new VMs

Postby AntiMatter » 19. Sep 2009, 16:37

Hi,

Add a general Virtualbox VM Settings Teamplate which will be used as default configuration for all new VMs.
Reason: I happen to use the same settings for each VM, typically always disable Floppy, Sound, Network type, etc. If there was a default settings template, this would improve the user experience.

This template could be created from scratch. Or in the review of the Configuration Settings of any VM, add a button to say "Use the settings of this VM as default for all new VM".

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Default Settings Template for all new VMs

Postby Sasquatch » 19. Sep 2009, 17:01

In a way, there already is a default template. Each OS type and version need them for starting users. Because, what good would it do if you give all Windows VM the Intel/PRO1000MT Desktop adapter, if only Vista, Server 2008 and Windows 7 have the driver for it by default? Or give all of them the PCNet III adapter, while the before mentioned group no longer has the driver for that?

The choice to create a template, and be able to use that, now that is indeed a possible idea. It could be added as OS: Other, version: <give it a name>.
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Re: Default Settings Template for all new VMs

Postby AntiMatter » 19. Sep 2009, 18:01

Although there are variations between Guest OS, however the idea of the template is have the most common features so there will be fewer customization to be done. (Setting RAM, Hard drive interface, Floppy, USB, Audio, Network, etc.) are not really that complicate but it would be more convenient if they were replicated from default settings.

The template I am suggesting is a custom template. With the custom template is only relevant to a my specific scenario, mainly because I prepare the new VMs so that they are conform to this template.

With the possibility to create custom setting template, it is also possible to create more than one. The custom setting templates won't conflict with the standard Virtualbox "default" settings (which I guess suggest default RAM and disk size). So here is a small change in the GUI when you create a new VM.

After the selection of the Guest OS, add a drop down to allow the user to select a settings template (or from an existing VM). If a template is selected then apply the same settings (except guest OS and hard drive probably). If the nothing is selected, then just continue with Virtualbox default settings (as it is currently implemented). Those are just default config values, you can still review and change them after the VM is created.
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Re: Default Settings Template for all new VMs

Postby mpack » 19. Sep 2009, 20:21

I would be keen on seeing a variation on this idea: point to any existing VM to use as a template. This would make cloning a lot easier for newbies.
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Re: Default Settings Template for all new VMs

Postby CaptainFlint » 9. Oct 2009, 11:50

I strongly support the suggestion, I miss it badly when setting the same settings again and again for aech and every newly created machine. :(

What about different default settings for different OSes, I think it could be solved by using "incomplete", "sparse" template approach, when not every setting is specified, but only some of them. For example, I specify in such a template only the following settings: set boot order, USB turned off, using bridged network connection. And all other settings in the template remain unspecified, empty, so that they are filled automatically when a new VM is created, depending on the VM type, that is: network adapter, IDE controller, etc.
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Re: Default Settings Template for all new VMs

Postby mpack » 9. Oct 2009, 13:04

CaptainFlint wrote:What about different default settings for different OSes, I think it could be solved by using "incomplete", "sparse" template approach

If you make the idea too complex then the developers will never get around to it. We need a suggestion that is simple to implement, not too far from what is already done.

For that reason I believe the easiest thing is, you right click on an existing VM and select "Copy VM..." (or some other wording). The GUI then goes through the normal new VM wizard but uses the existing VM settings as the actual template (rather than prompt you for an OS and an implied template). The wizard would go through a normal virtual disk creation step. The new VM xml would be an exact copy of the old VM settings except new name and new VM UUID, and no media mounted except the newly created hard disk. Surely this can't be hard to do!

Then, if anything about the new VM settings has to be changed, the user should go in and change them manually.
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Re: Default Settings Template for all new VMs

Postby vbox4me2 » 9. Oct 2009, 13:15

I'd like to see this supported from a website, much like you can sms a config to a mobile, pointing someone to a url and a local vdi would be nice.
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Re: Default Settings Template for all new VMs

Postby CaptainFlint » 9. Oct 2009, 14:03

mpack wrote:If you make the idea too complex then the developers will never get around to it. We need a suggestion that is simple to implement, not too far from what is already done.

Does that really look too complex for you?! :shock:

I'm afraid, that the "simple" solution would be completely useless. Most users don't know much about which hardware is supported by most OSes, and it would be a very unpleasant surprise if I copy some machine into another, try to install another operating system and fight with BSODs and undetectable hardware only because PIIX3 controller remained in the VM configuration instead of PIIX4, which is required by the OS I'm trying to install.

My suggestion may sound complicated, but the general idea is very simple.
From the user's point of view, there is the same VM settings dialog, some of the fields being in "undefined" state (e.g. gray checkboxes or empty editboxes), the user just edits the fields he wishes to override, all others remain undefined and are filled in by VirtualBox later, when a new VM is created based on this template.
From the VirtualBox developers point of view, the implementation should not be complex either. Just the same XML file as used for VM settings, but some of the fields are missing, which means that these fields should be filled in by VB when new machine is being created.

Where did you see anything complex?
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Re: Default Settings Template for all new VMs

Postby mpack » 9. Oct 2009, 14:52

CaptainFlint wrote:Does that really look too complex for you?! :shock:

As I understand it, your idea makes VM creation easy, but requires a whole new user interface feature for the purpose of creating the templates. Aint gonna happen.
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Re: Default Settings Template for all new VMs

Postby mpack » 9. Oct 2009, 15:09

On reflection, further objections to your templates idea occur to me:

1. The knowledge required to create a template is the same as the knowledge required to create a VM, so it isn't clear to me that your method greatly simplifies the process.

2. It escapes me how can you categorize the idea of copying the settings of an existing VM as "completely useless", when that is precisely what most people already do when cloning a VM.
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Re: Default Settings Template for all new VMs

Postby CaptainFlint » 9. Oct 2009, 16:24

mpack wrote:As I understand it, your idea makes VM creation easy, but requires a whole new user interface feature for the purpose of creating the templates. Aint gonna happen.

Why? Not at all. Well, here's the basic draft of how I see my suggestion implemented in GUI:
1. A new menu command to the main window is added, say, Machine -> Edit VM Template.
2. On this command, a dialog is opened which looks exactly the same as the VM Settings dialog, but all the controls are in "undefined" state (if some option always has the same value and does not depend on the VM type, like Boot Order, Remote Display, Floppy Drive, Serial Port, etc., then it can be not undefined, but set into that default value).
3. The user customizes some of the settings as he wishes, leaving other settins undefined. Then he presses OK, and the template is saved.
4. That's all, nothing more is required. When the user creates a new VM, the wizard looks no different from now. But when the last "Finish" button is pressed, the newly created virtual machine has its settings already set as the user specified in the template.

So, the only GUI change required is one menu command and one dialog (which almost duplicates the already existing dialog). Where's the whole new user interface?

mpack wrote:1. The knowledge required to create a template is the same as the knowledge required to create a VM, so it isn't clear to me that your method greatly simplifies the process.

My suggestion is not at all intended to lessen amount of knowledge required to create a new VM. It is intended to lessen amount of mouse clicks in the process of creating new VMs.

2. It escapes me how can you categorize the idea of copying the settings of an existing VM as "completely useless", when that is precisely what most people already do when cloning a VM.

Cloning a VM and creating a new VM are two different processes. If I clone a VM, it is supposed that the clone will not differ too much from the original. But when I create a new VM, I cannot use cloning for it, because I may need to install a completely different OS there from scratch, with completely different emulated hardware, different set of partitions on the hard drive, etc. For this task it's much easier and less error-prone to create a new machine than to clone an existing one. If someone needs good cloning — I have absolutely no objections, it's just another improvement request which has nothing to do with my suggestion.
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Re: Default Settings Template for all new VMs

Postby Sasquatch » 9. Oct 2009, 16:29

CaptainFlint wrote:
mpack wrote:If you make the idea too complex then the developers will never get around to it. We need a suggestion that is simple to implement, not too far from what is already done.

Does that really look too complex for you?! :shock:

I'm afraid, that the "simple" solution would be completely useless. Most users don't know much about which hardware is supported by most OSes, and it would be a very unpleasant surprise if I copy some machine into another, try to install another operating system and fight with BSODs and undetectable hardware only because PIIX3 controller remained in the VM configuration instead of PIIX4, which is required by the OS I'm trying to install.

My suggestion may sound complicated, but the general idea is very simple.
From the user's point of view, there is the same VM settings dialog, some of the fields being in "undefined" state (e.g. gray checkboxes or empty editboxes), the user just edits the fields he wishes to override, all others remain undefined and are filled in by VirtualBox later, when a new VM is created based on this template.
From the VirtualBox developers point of view, the implementation should not be complex either. Just the same XML file as used for VM settings, but some of the fields are missing, which means that these fields should be filled in by VB when new machine is being created.

Where did you see anything complex?

This is already done. It's in the new VM wizard, you select an OS family, then the OS type. A lot of default settings will be made like IDE controller and you generally don't have issues with them.
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Re: Default Settings Template for all new VMs

Postby mpack » 9. Oct 2009, 18:35

Sasquatch wrote:This is already done.

I guess that makes two of us who are left rather puzzled. If you are creating a new VM for a new OS then it seems to me that the existing VirtualBox "New VM" wizard is perfectly adequate: it asks you for an OS family and then picks reasonable defaults for all settings, all suitable for that OS. I find it hard to imagine that any user defined template would be very much more convenient... and I dread to think of what kind of support questions we'd be answering on this site if most VMs were created from user templates!

IMHO, just about the only time the standard wizard is unsuitable is when the goal is to be the same as another VM, rather than simply be suitable for an OS. This arises when cloning or when moving VMs between PCs. Leaving it to the user to manually check all the settings (and forget some, or make a typo) is frankly ridiculous: this is something that cries out to be automated.
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Re: Default Settings Template for all new VMs

Postby mpardee » 9. Nov 2009, 02:41

I create a lot of VMs , and being able to set the default settings would be great - sometimes I miss a setting and it causes problems later on. For example the default network driver causes problems after virtual machine reboots (at least with Ubuntu), and if I forget to specify a bridged network I can't ssh in,if I don't increase the memory things die if I'm running a live CD and making a lot of changes, etc. etc. It would nice not to have to set 4-5 settings every time I create a new VM.

At least with the open source edition it should be easy to just edit the "template" system for the different OSes, and add your own, i.e. Ubuntu-custom1, assuming the defaults for new VMs are different for the different OS templates. If only I could I ever get the time to look into this...
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