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Moka5: Virtualization in Your Pocket

What do you get when you cross two major trends in IT: virtualization and USB storage? You get Moka5, that's what, says John Tränkenschuh. Moka5 combines the 4+ gigabytes of storage you have on your flash drive with VMWare player, which results in the ability to play with all kinds of operating systems without needing to install a Virtualization player on your favorite PC.

As I’m sitting here, typing away at this article, I’m also previewing the operating system used with the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative. I’m an old school teacher. I’d love to see the world’s poor equipped with computers, especially those poor kids from working class neighborhoods in America. I’m also playing a quick version of Quake II. Last, I’ve got Damn Small Linux (DSL) running, trying to debug a thorny UNIX application issue. And I’m doing all of this from my iPod Photo.

What do you get when you cross two major trends in IT: virtualization and USB storage? You get Moka5, that’s what. Moka5 combines the 4+ Gigabytes of storage you have with VMWare player, which gives the ability to play with all kinds of operating systems without needing to install a Virtualization player on your favorite PC.

But there’s more. Let’s discuss what Moka5 is. Let’s go over how to install it. Last, let’s discuss some common applications—applications that will make this exciting blend of technologies a new form of mobile business enablement.

What’s more mobile than an old iPod Photo? I’m doing all this via my iPod. It has many gigabytes of dead empty space alongside my bike pictures and ’70s songs. The battery makes it useful for little else...

What Is Moka5?

In its simplest sense, Moka5 is a VMWare Player that you run from USB storage. You can install operating systems on player instances. And if you go with this approach, you have a portable set of PCs you can run from any borrowed PC. Ya, this is kind of cool. But each image you build yourself is one you must maintain and update yourself.

But there’s more, much more. Moka5 is also a website with downloadable operating system images that you can load from the Internet and run from your USB storage. This is what makes Moka5 unique. Each time you invoke an image, the image is updated from the safe source at the Moka5 website. Moka5 is very efficient with the download, often downloading changes only.

No muss, no fuss software and operating system updates. It’s true plug and play. There’s even shared storage that can be your vault of work in progress.

Some of you may be confused. I know some have assumed that running an operating system from my iPod means I use the clickwheel and dinky screen to run Linux. Not so. What this means is that I can walk up to any Windows PC, plug in my iPod, launch Moka5, and it is Moka5 running DSL in a Window. Notice that the PC I use doesn’t need to be configured with Moka5, with DSL, with anything other than Windows. And lest you be tempted to cheat, remember that you must have a separate Windows license for each image you run.

So I plug in the iPod, and I play with whatever operating system on Moka5 interests me. The Moka5 website has all kinds of images that tempt you. There are games, small operating systems, Ubuntu images—you name it.

Moka5 is even configurable enough to enable you to run a more traditional image, one that saves your changes and one that can be started at any time, even if you are offline. But isn’t it time to embrace the Net and those easy updates?

Well, maybe I’ve impressed you enough with Moka5 to interest you in trying it out for yourself? In the next section, you’ll learn how to install Moka5 on your USB storage device. I recommend a music player that has more than 4 gigbytes of extra storage. If you don’t have that kind of storage, try a download and test of Moka5 onto your PC.

You may want to check out the companion videos to this article as well.

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