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Solving the Chicken and Egg Problem With .flp

Doesn’t that title bring back 1996. I can almost feel the texture of the hard plastic shell of the 3.5 inch disk AOL would mass mail me. Useless little things in today’s world aren’t they? Really, with USB disks, iso files and the like, when was the last time you needed one? They are still useful however, at least a .flp image is. Let’s setup a little story… all things go better with a story. Get your milk and Oreos and get comfortable.

You’re a net admin. You’ve just virtualized EVERYTHING, or most of it anyways. You are heralded as the next great hero, that is until your security admin reminds you that all new “Servers” deployed, including VMs, must be hardened off the network. Great you think, lets use the same USB key you’ve used to deploy physical servers in the past! Except, ESX 3.5 does not support usb, and can’t pass it through to a VM. Well what now? It’s just 3 scripts…

In comes .flp to save the day. Using dd for Windows, or my favorite (but pay utility) WinImage.

2009-07-24_2236

After creating the image, drag your files in, and save. Upload to your datastore, attach to the VM, and go!

Questions? Comments? Story too long & otherwise useless? Leave me a note in the comments section.

6 thoughts on “Solving the Chicken and Egg Problem With .flp

  • Floppies? Last time I heard about one of those … insert bad joke here

    It is just as easy to use a program like IMGBurn to make a .ISO from files or folders and never use a virtual floppy again!

  • But WHY is the flp better suited than the ISO? Is there a method to your madness?

    I have used both in the past to get around various “quirks” with ESXi, VMWare Server, and Workstation. So why would you choose one over the other?

    Some thoughts:
    * Availability – On Windows, they both require a third party program to create and on Linux neither requires a third party program (as the utils are part of most distros). Between .flp and .iso it's a tie
    * Ease of creation – A .flp needs a filesystem before you can dd it, so it's either specialized apps in Windows or loop mounting in Linux. For the iso, again, you're going to need an app in windows or mkisofs in Linux. At the end of the day, I think these are equally easy (or equally difficult for those “half-empty” folks )
    * Modification – A .flp can theoretically be modified again and again, an ISO is (usually) readonly. While it begs the question of whether the image SHOULD be writable in a hardened environment, I would give the adv to .flp
    * V2P – A floppy image can be written to a physical disk using dd or any number of other tools. The ISO can be burned to a CD just as easily. However, since it's becoming increasingly rare to find a computer with a floppy drive and AOL stopped sending me those diskettes a decade ago, I'll give the adv to the ISO.

    At the end of the day, I think it's a matter of preference … can you give any specific examples where one is better used than the other?

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