I was recently showing someone my homelab and they noticed that I had templates for multiple Linux distributions including Ubuntu Server, Photon OS, and Tiny Core, as well as different versions of each. They asked why I didn’t standardize on just one Linux distribution or version. The version issue is easy — I can be lazy when it comes to cleaning up old templates. The reason for multiple distributions required a bit of extra explanation, so I figured I would type it up here.
Tiny Core is a very small Linux distribution that I can clone in seconds. If I want to test something like network connectivity, a new DHCP scope, scripting something against a handful of VMs, or something that deals with the disk of a VM like vSphere Replication or a VM image backup/restore Tiny Core is perfect… just enough of a VM to get the job done. Instructions on how to create such a template can be found in this previous post: https://enterpriseadmins.org/blog/lab-infrastructure/lightweight-vm-for-testing-tinycore-linux/.
Photon OS is a minimal Linux distribution optimized to run on VMware platforms. Its already available as an OVA here: https://github.com/vmware/photon/wiki/Downloading-Photon-OS, so I just imported it once and saved it as a template. It only takes a couple minutes to deploy one of these and configure it to run Docker containers. For an example of something you can use it for, check out this previous post https://enterpriseadmins.org/blog/scripting/vrealize-operations-alerts-using-rest-notification-plugin/.
Ubuntu Server is the largest Linux template I have on disk, but is still relatively small compared to a Windows template (my configured Ubuntu Server 18.04 template is ~5GB). Ubuntu is a consumer friendly distribution with current support for a lot of different packages. I have one of these VMs running PiHole and another used as a 2FA/RADIUS server that I use for Two Factor Authentication with Horizon UAG. Here is a previous post for building an Ubuntu 18.04 template: https://enterpriseadmins.org/blog/virtualization/lab-updates-ubuntu-18-04-template/
What Linux distribution do you like that I am missing?