Can I ask for instance:

I want a VirtualBox VM that does a Gopher server.
Is there one readily available?
[Plus needed requirements/etc to make the question acceptable]

Great answers would be maintained VMs, such as the ones from http://www.turnkeylinux.org

  • I'll post a more complete opinion later - but the correct term for this is a virtual appliance I think, and I'm slightly meh on this. Oddly I'd consider having a virtual appliance available for a software package a reasonable condition for a question. – Journeyman Geek May 22 '15 at 2:15
  • @JourneymanGeek you're correct, the term is "appliance" (see the phrasing of the example question in my answer below). And yes, I see this a "reasonable condition" on a software request, obviously – in most cases replacing the OS requirement. Curious for your "meh" :) – Izzy May 22 '15 at 10:07

I'd say yes – as basically this is just an additional requirement (supplementing the OS part – as with an appliance, the OS part becomes obsolete). Of course this assumes that your question otherwise sticks to our "quality rules" – if the quote in your question represents your full question, I'd think about voting to close it as "too broad" :)

So let me give a better example of what I'd consider perfectly fine:

I want a VirtualBox VM / appliance that provides a web server:

  • must be light-weight / have minimal resource usage
  • static pages are the only thing to be delivered, so no fancy scripting/CGI stuff
  • document_root must be easily accessible from the host (to copy stuff there)
  • high security, SSL support is a must
  • should work out-of-the-box with minimal configuration needs (if any at all)
  • the VM must be well maintained, especially concerning security fixes

As maintenance is an important requirement here, I'm willing to pay a yearly subscription fee – but that shouldn't exceed USD 50. Free and open-source solutions preferred.

This would fit our "quality rules" (all requirements are mentioned), and it's asking for software. I'd see no reason why such a question should not fit on our site.


Personally I'd see the availability of Virtual Appliances as a requirement - much like you'd ask for say "Properly documented installation notes" for a webapp.

You'd then be able to put various options in one answer for the software, or set up your own. That way you'd focus on a software recommendation (that might be useful even if the appliance is no longer supported, or you decide to build your own) rather than a list of possible appliances.

I'd say the same would be true if you wanted, say vagrant or docket support - its a requirement, not a end goal

  • That's how I meant it in my answer as well – thanks and +1 for underlining it explicitly! – Izzy May 22 '15 at 13:43

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