A Practical Application For Virtualization In The Home Officemjgraves | February 9, 2013
A short while ago I spend a little time dealing with some Polycom phones in my home office. This time around I needed to perform some firmware updates, but it was little more complicated than normal. The tale highlights how we can make use of a VM in an incidental but convenient role.
The phones I had to update were a mix of Polycom VVX-1500, VVX-600 and VVX-500 models. Some were devices that I had purchased that run release software. Others were devices from beta programs. Those can only run beta firmware releases. I had several different releases to accommodate.
In the past I’ve loaded a TFTP server to my desktop computer and used that as my local provisioning server. Since I retired my older desktop last summer I didn’t have that in place at the moment, which I took as an opportunity to try a different approach. I decided that I’d launch a virtual web server using Oracle’s free Virtual Box software and a Turnkey Linux LAMP image.
This little exercise turned out to be a nice idea and worked very well. It only took me about half an hour to get a VM built and loaded with the various firmware releases. I elected to put each into a different sub-tree under the root of the Apache web service in the VM.
I wasn’t provisioning the phones lines or features, just performing firmware updates. Once the firmware was in place I configured each phone to update itself via http, pointing it to the appropriate folder on the server.
When the updates were complete I had the VVX-600 and VVX-500 beta phones running their latest beta release. The VVX-500 and VVX-1500 were running the latest release code. This allowed me to add the VVX camera modules into the mix. I’ll have more to say about that wee gadget in time.
Turnkey Linux is a nice distribution for those who are not Linux experts. I first encountered it when trying different VPS based hosts for this site. It’s basically an appliance distribution with some conveniences baked in. In this particular application it served me well. I can launch the server when I need it, but it’s not consuming resources when I don’t.
This little exercise was very productive, even enjoyable. It’s nice to break from long-established habits and try something new even when approaching a mundane task. It keeps the grey matter working well.