What’s a “Virtual Appliance”?

A “Virtual Appliance” is a virtual machine (or “VM”) that has already had an Operating System installed and configured for a particular purpose.  For example, a VM may be set up to be an E-Mail server, or a DNS server, or a Web server, or a desktop environment for end user use.


VMWare, the leading VM software maker has multiple, pre-made “Virtual Appliances” that you can download, for free, from their website.  These are usually created and configured by their customers and shared with the community.  They’re an enormous time saver if you need a server and don’t have the time or the know-how to set one up from scratch.  Just download a pre-made one and go!

Distro: What’s it mean?

“Distro” is short for “Distribution”.  In the computer field, it usually refers to a particular variant of a piece of software.  The most common use of the term “distro” is referring to the many variations of the Linux Operating System.  There are dozens of different distributions of Linux.  A small handful are:

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  • Ubuntu
  • Red Had
  • TurboLinux
  • Suse

Each one of these are provided by a different group or organization.  Each one is said to be a different “distro”.  As you can see, “Linux” is not a single operating system.  There are many flavors of it distributed by different groups.  No one company “owns” Linux.