Jan 25, 2006
The purpose of the Browser Appliance is ... well, browsing. Therefore, it does not have very many programs installed. There are a couple of additional programs you can install that will be useful.
Surfing the web is the main source of spyware and adware infection. However, email is the source of most viruses. If you read your email in the Browser Appliance, you will deny those viruses the ability to infect you.
VMware included an email program in the Browser Appliance, although it is in the wrong part of the "Applications" menu. Clicking on "Applications" > "Office" > "Evolution" will start the Evolution email program.
My suggestion is to use Thunderbird instead. Thunderbird is made by the same people who make Firefox. I use it myself and love it. It has a very good Bayesian spam filter. It also detects many phishing scams and marks them as such.
Unfortunately, the package manager for Ubuntu downloads and installs the wrong version of Thunderbird. You will have to download it directly from Mozilla.
From within the Browser Appliance, go to http://www.mozilla.com/thunderbird/ and download the program. When the download is finished, you will have a file called "thunderbird-1.5.tar.gz" (unless a newer version is out, then "1.5" will be something else).
Right-click on this file and click on "Extract Here". After that is done, you can delete the tar.gz file.
On the taskbar, click "Places" and then "Home Folder". Right-click within the folder that opens and click on "Create Folder". Name the new folder bin. This is where you should put any programs you install, if they do not install themselves somewhere else.
Move the "thunderbird" folder to the new "bin" folder you created, then open it in the file browser. Scroll down until you see a file named "thunderbird", with a small "SH" on the icon. Double-click that file to start Thunderbird for the first time. Click "Run" on the dialog window that pops up and set up your email accounts.
Right-click on the taskbar, next to the Firefox icon. Click on "Add to Panel". A window called "Add to Panel" will open. Click on the entry for "Custom Application Launcher" and click the "Add" button at the bottom.
The "Name", obviously, should be Thunderbird. The "Command" will be /home/vmware/bin/thunderbird/thunderbird. The "Type" will be Application. Click on the button that says "No Icon".
For some strange reason, it will not let you select the icons that came with Thunderbird, although you can force it to use them. At the top of the icon selection window, you can type in the address to the icon files.
Type this: /home/vmware/bin/thunderbird/chrome/icons/default/default.xpm and then click the "Close" button.
Now you can use email with the Browser Appliance.
VMware included a README text file in Ubuntu's home folder. Unfortunately, they forgot to install a text editor!
Simple to fix. Click the "Applications" button, go to "Accessories" and click the entry for "Terminal". Type the following:
sudo apt-get install gedit
When it asks for the password, type vmware.
Text will flash by quickly for a few seconds, then it will ask you to continue. Press y and hit "Enter". When it is done, gedit will be installed at "Applications" > "Accessories" > "Text Editor".
For some reason, I could not make the Opera web browser work properly on the Browser Appliance. If you prefer Opera and want to give it a shot, go to Opera.com to download it. The site should detect that you are running Linux and offer you a download button, linked to the Linux download page.
You will be choosing the "Ubuntu 5.1.0 Breezy Badger" version. Click the box that offers the tar.gz version, because the RPM version will not install on the Browser Appliance. You will need to extract the opera folder and move it to the "/home/vmware/bin/" folder. I would also suggest renaming the extracted folder to "opera". The program file is called "opera" and will have an "SH" on the icon. I couldn't make it work but perhaps you can.
I do not believe that video will work on the Browser Appliance. I fought with it for more than 14 hours, trying one thing after another, to make video work. I installed scores, perhaps hundreds, of video and audio codecs. I installed a dozen different media players.
I don't know if VMware deliberately broke video support, if Ubuntu has a problem or if I simply tried the wrong things. After 14 very frustrating hours of fighting with it, not a single video file would play. That means you cannot view movies embedded within web pages, unless the site is using the Flash player to show them.
If you want to try your hand at making video work, the Ubuntu Guide has instructions. They did not work for me. Then again, I am far from being an expert on Linux, so maybe you will have better luck.
This should be all of the additional programs you will need to install. If you want to install other programs or need help using the operating system within the Browser Appliance, the unofficial Ubuntu Guide is a good place to start. If you need help with the VMplayer itself, you can register at VMware's message board and ask for help there.
If you decide that you like Linux, after playing with it in the Browser Appliance, you should download some more virtual machines. The Browser Appliance is a very stripped down installation of one Linux distribution, created specifically for web browsing and not much else. It is not a good way to start learning about Linux.
VMware has a list of prebuilt VMs on their web site. Click the link for "community built" for a larger list. My suggestion is the one called "KDE on SuSe".
Once you start surfing the web and reading your email exclusively with the Browser Appliance, you should be very safe. No more browser hijackers. No more email viruses. No more drive-by downloads. Just remember, all the protection in the world will not save you from yourself. If you download a spyware-ridden program, transfer it to your Windows PC and install it, you have thrown away all of your security.
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