A good friend of mine, Eric Lightbody works for the University of Wisconsin Green Bay as a Web Developer. He was playing with their Google Mini Search Appliance (GSA), and I was getting jealous. I had played with the earlier Google Search Appliances a few years earlier at Time Warner Cable, but now I wanted to play with one again.
I was thinking… I wonder if they have a Virtual Appliance for people to play with it before buying one. A Google search later, I found what I was looking for.
Enter the Google Search Appliance Virtual Edition. This is distributed by Google as a VMware Virtual Machine. Within about an hour, I had my Virtual GSA up and running and indexing all of my websites including some sites that had NTLM based protected content. Pretty neat. It would have been much quicker, but the decompress process (p7zip) took like 30 minutes on a Core 2 Quad Ubuntu workstation, leaving me with about a 40GB VMDK.
The Virtual Edition is meant for development use. Legally, you are not allowed to use it for any production use. Plus, it’s limited to 50,000 indexed files. I would highly recommend a real Google Mini search appliance. But if you already have one, the Virtual Edition would be great for testing website search integration changes before implementing them on your real GSA. And, if you are thinking about getting one, trying out the Virtual Edition will allow you to get your feet wet, and experiment with it’s features.
I would strongly recommend giving it plenty of Virtual Resources when you fire this up. I starved mine, at first, from the resources it wanted, and it performed a little sluggishly (to be expected).
Also, after booting it up, make sure you wait a bit before trying to connect to it. It seemed to take a good 5 to 10 minutes before I could point a browser at it to connect — again, this could be related to me not giving it much memory. I gave it 1GB, and the requirements said 3GB was the minimum needed.