Tutorial: Finding Virtual Machine Images for Windows Azure in VM Depot

For users of VM Depot, our repository of community managed Virtual Machines for Azure, we have added significant enhancements to the search feature of the website. With this expanded search capability, it is now easier than ever to find an open source, Linux-based, virtual machine for Windows Azure.

Search and you shall find

Basic search functionality has not changed. You can still type into the search box on VM Depot and hit return. The results will include all virtual machines that contain your search term in their description, title, tags or other common fields.

Sorting Results

Using the sorting options available you can make the most interesting images rise to the top of the list as described in the table below.

This approach works well if you know precisely what you are looking for. However, with over 900 images to choose from it can be difficult to find what you need. For this reason we have added a new search language to the site. This feature allows you to conduct much more targeted searches.

Sort Option Description
Featured Featured images are ones that MS Open Tech have, at some time, flagged as being of special interest. This sort option is perhaps the most useful if you don’t know precisely what you are looking for.
Date Added This sort order puts the most recently added images at the top of the list. As such is most useful if you know what you are looking for and thus have a fairly narrow search, but need to find the most recent image.
Name Sorting by name displays the resulting list in alphabetical name order. This is useful if you have a large number of results and want to skip through the pages to a specific image name.
Platform The platform is the base operating system used in the image. Sorting on platform lists images in alphabetic order of platform and thus can help you find an image based on your preferred operating system. Whilst this sort order can sometimes be useful you might prefer to narrow your results to your chosen platform (see the description of our search language below).
Rating This option lists images in order of their user rating. That is the most highly rated will appear at the top of the list. This can help ensure that images that have been tested by end users are displayed first, however, don’t be put off by images that have not yet received a rating.

Power Searching within the VM Depot repository

The new search features of VM Depot allow you to use a number of qualifiers (see table below) to construct more specific queries. This makes it possible to target specific information stored alongside each VM Depot virtual machine image.

The available qualifiers include:

Qualifier (these are case-sensitive) Description
tag (or keyword) Images can include descriptive tags (keywords), defined by the publisher (e.g. CMS, blog, forum, app server).
package Search for a VM that contains a specific package (note that this is not a complete list of packages on the image, they are the ones the publisher has chosen to draw attention to)
region Search for images available in specific regions.
platform Look for a VM built on a specific operating system.
name Limit the search term to the virtual machine image name.
description (or desc) Limit the search term to the description of the image.
publisher Look for images from a specific publisher.
rating Only return images with this rating (or higher) – takes a non-integer number from 1 through 5.

As an example, to search for an image that includes the python language you would use the search term "package:python". To limit results to ones using the CentOS operating system you would use "package:python platform:centos".

In addition to the various qualifiers available we also provide two different operators. The one used in the example above (':') means “contains”, that is, if the identified qualifier contains the string then it is considered a match. For example, “package:python” means “return all VMs that contain any package with the string ‘python’ within its name”. This search will match “python” as well as “python1.7”. You can also use the operator ':=' which looks for an exact match, rather than a partial match.

VM Depot has a huge range of images available for easy deployment to Windows Azure. We invite you to use the new search feature the next time to wish to access and deploy an image from the repository.

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