Virtualization Technology News and Information
Moka5's LivePC Platform - VMware with a Portable Twist

One of the more intricate things we've seen at CES is the development of a new portable application platform from Moka5 called LivePC. Unlike traditional portable applications that are simply modified Windows applications, LivePC is built entirely on top of VMware, allowing for literally any games and any suite of applications such as Moka5's Fearless Browser to be run from a flash drive or iPod. But that's not all, Moka5 has quite a few tricks in this bag. More after the jump.

While quite different in its own right, LivePC still adheres to the conventional portable application rules - no programs or files are left behind on the PC, and everything is as compacted as possible. However, LivePC varies from other platforms in the sense that you do not need to have the entire program on your flash drive to use it later down the road. Moka5 and other users create LivePC images for others to download and subscribe to, keeping only the most frequently accessed bits of the program "buffered" so that you may re-acquire the image at a later time when the Internet is available. Alternatively, you may mark certain LivePCs to be kept on your portable drive at all times, so they will be available no matter when. Another benefit to this subscription method is the fact that updates to particular LivePCs are downloaded instantly, while the data portion of your image remains constant. Also, in case you do somehow manage to screw up the image, it's possible to revert a suspended image back to the original in no time.

As VMware virtual machines, the LivePCs have no access to the Windows operating system, and as such cannot be infected by resident viruses, nor can one image infect another image. Of course, there is the option to share a single folder from your portable drive to specific LivePCs, as well as USB devices and other peripherals such as floppy drives so you can at least get your work done.

And work shall be done indeed, as there are already a number of LivePCs to subscribe to, including the Fearless Browser, a Gentoo Linux based image complete with Firefox, Thunderbird, and GAIM for secure browsing and email on an operating system that's practically immune to most viruses. The included Firefox, while using an older 1.5 variant is also rather impressive, utilizing OpenDNS to reduce load times and automatically prevent access to typosquatters and phishing sites, as well the optional ability to use the Tor network for pure anonymous browsing. Don't know linux? Sound complicated? It shouldn't, since there's really only 4 shortucts for the aforementioned programs and Shut Down.

LivePCs for OpenOffice, KDE, Quake II, LAMP, other Linux distributions and DOS operating systems exist too. At the CES booth, a Windows-based LivePC was demoed showing off the Project64 emulator running Super Mario 64 (on a hacked Xbox 360 controller nonetheless), running at the full 60 frames per second. Of course due to licensing issues, Windows-based LivePCs won't be posted by Moka5 themselves, although they're quite possible and officially supported. The possibilities are endless.

The one downside that we can see so far to Moka5's platform is that like the also-similar MojoPac platform that attempts to keep everything separate (but ultimately fails), LivePC requires administrative rights in order to temporarily install it's necessary components, such as the VMware virtual network adapter. As such, unless Moka5 can find a way around this limitation, it's rather unlikely that we'll be seeing this used at pubic venues and schools where administrators have likely locked down the PC.

By now of course you're wondering what all this will cost you. It doesn't cost a thing. While nothing's set in stone, Moka5's revenue stream will most likely be based on enhanced versions of the software that support more business oriented features such as encryption, although this has yet to be seen. For now just download and enjoy. You'll want to be sure you have at least 1GB free on your drive, although 4GB is recommended.

Read the original, here.

Published Saturday, January 13, 2007 3:38 PM by David Marshall
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