VMware ThinApp Factory
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Joshua Kwan
Joshua Kwan Fix README.md
curl, not just libcurl3, is required. Fixes #4.
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What is VMware ThinApp Factory (TAF)?

TAF is a tool that simplifies generation of VMware ThinApps to an extent that it can be configured to keep generating ThinApps by picking up installers from multiple sources, apply recipes to customize ThinApp creation and across different Operating Systems.

What's in ThinApp Factory?

TAF comprises of multiple components and some of the functional units are:

  1. ThinApp Converter: REST service that manages the lifecycle of ThinApp projects and their settings to modify, rebuild, etc. System configuration backend also lives here.
  2. VMware Workpool manager (Legacy) Library to automatically install Windows templates from ISO, clone, and lease out VMs needed for conversion.
  3. Datastore manager Handles management of internal and external datastores.
  4. Workpool & ManualMode Manager Workpool service with a REST API that manages the lifecycle of conversion VMs
  5. Manual mode (in manualmode/) REST service that, despite its name, does both automatic as well as manual captures.
  6. Admin UI (webui) The main web interface to ThinApp Factory
  7. ThinApp Store and client. Client application and browser plugin used to download and thinreg applications from the ThinApp Store
  8. TAF Appliance and initial setup.

Build TAF

TAF Prerequisites

On a Ubuntu system (we used 12.04 LTS), you need these prerequisites:


Running TAF requires the VIX SDK to be installed. You can download VIX from here.

You need a My VMware account to download and a EULA must be accepted. Once the installer is copied to your server, simply run it with:

sh VMware-VIX-1.12.0-812388.x86_64.bundle

(Note two things: your browser may download it as a text file, and that's OK -- you can still run sh on it. Second, VIX version 1.13.0 does not appear to work well with TAF.)

Building TAF

Assuming you have all the prerequisites, go into the source tree, type make and everything will be built for you. After editing setup.cfg, you should then be able to make setup as root. To refresh the Java webapps and Python eggs after the initial deploy, run make deploy (also as root.)

The setup process deletes Tomcat's ROOT webapp and replaces it with TAF. It may be possible to run TAF in the future as a non-ROOT webapp, but we haven't had time to try that out yet. Keep this in mind if you have something important as a ROOT webapp.

Once you run the setup procedure, you should be able to hit Tomcat and get a TAF login screen. The default admin password is blank.

After deploying you are responsible for staging a ThinApp runtime here. Here are some tested versions we have used:

  • 4.5.0-238809
  • 4.6.0-287958
  • 4.6.1-361923
  • 4.6.2-467908
  • 4.7.0-519532
  • 4.7.1-677178
  • 4.7.2-753608
  • 4.7.3-891762

In the runtimes directory of your $install_dir (usually /var/lib/taf), create a directory named as the above (thinapp version-build number.) It should have the following files:


Once done, restart tomcat, then you should be able to see the runtime appear in TAF settings.

Known bugs

  1. The 'tasks' view does not work, but conversions are fine.

  2. When a conversion fails and you end up restarting Tomcat to unwedge it, the job may still appear to be in 'running' state forever. All running jobs should be set to 'failed' after the webapp restarts.

  3. Incremental builds are dangerously nonfunctional. If you modify Java code a clean build is suggested.

  4. The 'ThinApp store' does not work because of a missing setup.exe which is difficult to build at this time in an OSS environment. It requires proper code signing for its browser integration. OSS users will more likely be better served by designing a new delivery mechanism.

Is opensourcing complete?

The only part that is not currently open sourced is the ability to automatically provision a Windows work VM given an ISO file. Additionally, we require the 'vmrun' utility (part of the freeware VIX SDK) to interact with worker VMs.

Developer tips

IDE Setup

You can use Eclipse / SpringSource Tool Suite(STS) / IntelliJ Idea. I used STS and here are some useful tips (The same can be used for Eclipse):

  • I was using STS Version: 2.6.1.RELEASE, (JUNO eclipse worked too). Configure eclipse: network, proxy, etc. Configure jvm params appropriately. (min-max: 0.25 - 1 GB)

  • (optional) Generate eclipse artifacts for TAF java projects: mvn eclipse:eclipse, clean with mvn eclipse:clean

  • Plugins for working on scala, velocity, import maven projects, etc.

  • Remove some warnings on Eclipse by doing the following: Under Preferences > Maven > Warnings, check 2 checkboxes for

    • "GroupId is duplicate of parent group",
    • "Version is duplicate of parent version"

Import TAF maven projects into Eclipse

  1. In Eclipse, select "Import projects", and under maven, select "Maven generated projects"
  2. Browse to the thinapp_factory folder and select all projects.
  3. Click submit to finish.
  4. With m2eclipse, the classpath will point to the maven repo automatically.
  5. However, if mvn eclipse:eclipse is used, the .classpath file contains references to M2_REPO, and this will have to be set manually. See details here. Edit this in Preferences > Java > Build Path > Classpath Variables or: mvn -Declipse.workspace=<path-to-eclipse-workspace> eclipse:add-maven-repo

Test TAF WebUI in isolation

The webui Java module can be tested without the entire thinapp factory dependencies. The webui communicates with a backend service for datastores, workpools, conversion, etc. This can be simulated so the UI part of it can work in isolation. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Add appfactory\webui\src\resources\webui-local.properties. This file can be used to overwrite all the values in webui.properties.
  2. Overwrite the following entries:
    • Hibernate/datasource settings - Point webui to a local Postgres database:

    • Set to debug mode:

    • Replace ThinApp factory service urls with local simulator url

         cws.conversions_service_url = http://localhost:8080/webui/cws
         cws.service_url = http://localhost:8080/webui/cws
         datastore.service_url = http://localhost:8080/webui/ds
         workpool.service_url = http://localhost:8080/mm/workpool
    • You can find all configuration values from the source file: com/vmware/appfactory/config/ConfigRegistry.java

Test TAF WebUI with existing instance

  1. You'll need to enable to CWS to accept foreign connections. Edit appliance.ini in the converter source and change host = to host = Rebuild the egg and deploy using make deploy.

  2. On your local Admin UI, go to the Settings > Configuration tab, and set the service URLs to:

    • Converter: http://<appliance_ip_address>:5000
    • Conversions: http://<appliance_ip_address>:5000/mm
    • Datastore: http://<appliance_ip_address>:5000
    • Workpool: http://<appliance_ip_address>:8080/mm/workpool

NOTE: This step can be done on webui-local.properties as well.


You can also hookup sonar to these java projects by using sonar-pom.xml. Just run mvn sonar:sonar

NOTE: Some of this config needs work before we can get this up and running.

Proxy for tomcat setup

If you use ninite.com feed or download from other external source, and you have a proxy, ensure the following properties are set.


A TODO is to make this settable in setup.cfg.