Laptop Diaries, Goodbye to dual boot

A month and a half ago, Sun & Innotek, the authors of Virtual Box, an open source desktop virtualisation solution announced that Sun was buying them Virtual Box is a free type II virtualisation solution permitting the configuration of a number of popular x86 operating systems to act as guests and hosts. I have just today configured a Linux VM running on my Windows XP Laptop, here's how it looks, when its not full screen.

 

Dave's Ubuntu Desktop screen shot

 

I used Ubuntu 7.04 and this is how I did it. Firstly a friend cut me an ISO image on CD and I loaded it into the cd reader.

  1. I then created a VM. This has hardware virtualisation enabled, I created a new .vdi file. This must be big enough, and defaults at 8Gb. This is a limit on the file size. It does not reserve this space at install time, however if you make it too small, the install fails. The boot device order is floppy, cdrom and then hard disk. The cdrom has to be enabled in the 'settings -> CD/DVD' panel. I also defined the VM as a host of a Linux 2.6 image.
  2. I then started the VM using the virtual box control panel. This then boots a live cd of the cdrom, and I selected the 'Install' option. This then installs Ubuntu and offers you the opportunity to restart the system, i.e. the VM.
  3. I then used the update manager to update the software. It downloads, works out dependencies and then installs the new software versions. At the end of this stage, I then rebooted the VM. This took some time, over an hour and half, but I was using a wireless connection to a not very quick BT broadband line.
  4. At this point in time, it only offers 800x600 screen resolution, which is a bit pants, so, I used the VM window menu option, 'Devices -> Install Guest Additions'. This opened a nautilus window on the CD which exposes a script called "VBoxLinuxAdditions.run". I ran this from a terminal session command line in bash using root privilidge (see below). At this point, I then rebooted the VM again.
  5. I then needed to check that the xorg.config was configured correctly. In order to amend it, one needs a root user shell. Its been a couple of years since I used a Linux, so I tried to 'su' to root, but it was having none of it. A quick google found me this article this article about default passwords for the ubuntu super user. So a quick 'sudo gnome-terminal' and we're away. This artilce at forums.virtualbox.org, about guest additions, and this article details the checks and changes required of xorg.conf to permit full screen mode on a larger screen. The Toshiba M5 I am using has 1400x1050. I only had to add the additional resolutions. The device name agreements worked and the virtual devices had been inserted.

I should also thank the Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, who posted an Ubuntu 7, install walkthrough, which while not difficult, helped me debug the initial install failure.

I have downloaded some backgrounds and installed them, but it seems as I shall not be trying to build dual or triple boot solutions again; I have also got opensolaris nevada and indiana VMs. I just wish it had all been installed on  a single partition. I can run whatever OS I want on the laptop now.

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Comments:

Dave, Several points:
1 - I removed the dual boot about 2 years ago and used VMWare Workstation.
2 - You do NOT need to cut a CD from the ISO image. In VBox, you can define the Virtual CD Drive to point to the ISO image on the host disk (or even on an external USB drive). When you boot the image the first time, it will boot from the ISO image.
3 - I spent a few hours this week and built a set of images for VBox: Ubuntu, SXDE, and XP. I use these as templates when I need to build a Demo or a small scale PoC for a Customer. I can then run IdM, Java CAPS, NetBeans, Any other named Sun Middleware, and NOT clutter up my Host system, or need to scream about need for TB of disk to hold it all.

Posted by Ben Pashkoff on May 01, 2008 at 07:25 PM PDT #

Thanks for this, Ben

I chose not to use VMware, but I agree that Virtual Box is very easy to use. Did you see my article about DOSbox a couple of months ago.

Posted by Dave on May 01, 2008 at 09:46 PM PDT #

No I did not see the article. Please send a URL or copy.

Posted by Ben Pashkoff on May 03, 2008 at 05:21 PM PDT #

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