In the previous article, we reviewed the concepts and basic approach to building your own VMware Virtual Appliance (OVF/OVA). In Part 2, we are now going to take a look at a reference implementation for building a Linux VA using VMware PhotonOS. Although I am using PhotonOS as the guest, you can apply these same techniques to any other Linux distribution of your choice.
Step 1 - Create a new VM in vCenter Server and then install PhotonOS using the ISO format. Once you have completed the OS installation, you may want to apply any patches or packages that you want included as part of your VA. Once that is done, go ahead and shut down the VM.
Step 2 - Select the VM in the vSphere Inventory and then click on Configure->vApp and then check the Enable vApp Options. Once enabled, select OVF environment for the IP allocation scheme. In the OVF Details tab, select VMware Tools for the OVF environment transport. (Optionally) You can specify some additional metadata including appliance name and URLs to help others who maybe consuming your VA once it has been exported to an OVF/OVA.
Step 3 - Next, add the following 6 OVF properties which will be used as input to configure networking within PhotonOS. Click Add and provide a Label, Key and optional Category.
Step 4 - Power back on the VM and once it is available on the network (assuming DHCP), download and copy the sample first boot script rc.local to /etc/rc.d/rc.local. This script is where all the magic happens and will process the OVF property input and then configure the network settings. Right now it assumes these fields are optional, meaning if they left blank, it will default the system to DHCP. If you provide all input properties, then it will go ahead and configure a static network address.