Thursday Jan 22, 2009

Sun xVM VirtualBox 2.1.2 is released!

Good News! There's a new version of VirtualBox available now.

Version 2.1.2 is a maintenance release fixing issues with 2.1 which was released in December.

Some issues concerned Windows 7, but now that they are resolved we're happy to announce that VirtualBox supports Windows 7 as a guest AND as a host. An issue with shared folders has been fixed and the more observant may spot that it boots faster too.

And if you run a lot of vm's on your host you may be please to know that we raised the maximum number of concurrent guests from 127 to 1023. You'll need quite a machine to test that though :-)

So if you have had problems with:

  • 64-bit guests
  • Networking on Windows
  • USB on Linux
  • Windows 7 Shared Folders
.. or any of the other fixes described in the ChangeLog then this release is for you.


P.S. To prove that Shared Folders is working, see the movie about Host Guest Integration just released:

Wednesday Jan 21, 2009

Windows 7 on VirtualBox - The Movie

FatBloke goes all Hollywood with the new FatBloke TV Show

One of the first episodes covers running Windows 7 as a guest and is embedded below.

(BTW you can view the movie full screen to see the intricacies)



Monday Jan 12, 2009

Windows 7 on VirtualBox

Microsoft made Windows 7 beta available last Friday (Jan 9th, 2009) so decided to quickly take a look using VirtualBox on my Mac. This blog is about how I made it work.

If you know VirtualBox then the only non-standard step concerns the Guest Additions (Step 4 below)

(Editors Note: Since the release of version 2.1.2 Windows 7 works out of the box. )

1. Download the dvd iso from the Microsoft Windows 7 site

N.B. The Microsoft Download Manager uses ActiveX and so only worked in Internet Explorer. So I downloaded it from an XP instance running in VirtualBox to a Shared Folder on my Mac.

2. Create a New Virtual Machine in VirtualBox.

Although Microsoft recommend 1G for RAM, I used 512MB and it works great. Here are the rest of my settings:

Sun xVM VirtualBox

3. Install Windows 7

Windows 7 [Running] - Sun xVM VirtualBox

Windows 7 [Running] - Sun xVM VirtualBox

Choose Custom Installation as we're doing a clean install into a virgin vm.

Windows 7 [Running] - Sun xVM VirtualBox

Windows 7 [Running] - Sun xVM VirtualBox

Windows 7 [Running] - Sun xVM VirtualBox

Windows 7 [Running] - Sun xVM VirtualBox

Windows 7 [Running] - Sun xVM VirtualBox

Windows 7 [Running] - Sun xVM VirtualBox

Windows 7 [Running] - Sun xVM VirtualBox

Windows 7 [Running] - Sun xVM VirtualBox

Windows 7 [Running] - Sun xVM VirtualBox

Windows 7 [Running] - Sun xVM VirtualBox


Windows 7 [Running] - Sun xVM VirtualBox

4. Install Guest Additions

To install the Guest Additions we need to select "Devices...Install Guest Additions" to mount the additions iso. There is a check in the setup program, for version 2.1.0 and earlier, that prevents installation on Windows 7, so we need to run the installer in Vista compatibility mode. Do this by opening an explorer window showing the guest additions CD...

Windows 7 [Running] - Sun xVM VirtualBox

...and right click the 32 or 64-bit installer and select Properties. Now set the Compatibility Mode to Vista, and run it to install as usual.

Windows 7 [Running] - Sun xVM VirtualBox

5. Reboot

Now finally you need to reboot and you're done.


Windows 7 on your Mac (or Windows/Linux/Solaris PC too), pretty cool huh?


Wednesday Dec 17, 2008

Sun xVM VirtualBox 2.1 is released!

"Relentless" is how one commentator described it. Relentless development of the VirtualBox technology,  and relentless uptake and adoption by the community.

Today, Sun announced version 2.1 of Sun xVM VirtualBox, the 3rd major release since the acquisition of innotek back in February, 2008. So what's new in this version and gimme some data on this "adoption" stuff?

What's New

As a simple soul, fatbloke has to group features into buckets and he's labelled the buckets: Faster, Easier and Interoperable.


  • Hardware acceleration support on the Mac using VT-x capabilities of the Intel Core 2 chipset
  • Hardware acceleration using the latest virtualization support in Intel Nehalem microarchitecture chips such as the Core i7
  • OpenGL support for Windows guests for faster graphics intensive apps, e.g. Google Earth.
  • New NAT engine improvements for faster networking


  • New and easier configuration of Host Interface networking on Windows and Linux hosts. No more manual bridging on Windows or TUN/TAP gymnastics on Linux.
  • New 64-bit guests on 32-bit hosts, for example run Vista 64 on Windows XP 32-bit. (need 64 bit capable hardware though)


  • Improved support for vmdk and vhd virtual disk formats, now including snapshots.
  • Experimental support for LsiLogic and BusLogic SCSI controllers to aid migration from other platforms.
  • and the existing iSCSI support works great to Sun's OpenStorage systems BTW. (i'll cover this in another blog real soon now)


According to the Adopto-meter there have been over 8Million downloads of VirtualBox and the rate at the moment is 25,000 per day (which we think puts us in 3rd place behind Java and MySQL).

So now do your bit... push the needle up a bit more by downloading and trying 2.1 now.


Thursday Sep 04, 2008

Converting a VirtualBox guest from a client (NAT) to a server (Host Interface Networking)

Sun xVM VirtualBox on a Mac has been great for running multiple "client" vm's which use NAT networking, but rubbish for running "server" vm's because it wasn't easy to give a vm a real IP address which other machines on the network can connect to.

All this has changed with the introduction of Host Interface Networking for the Mac in VirtualBox 2.0 and this entry attempts to show you how to convert an existing vm configured for NAT networking into a full blown server that I can run Apache on.

 So here's my starting setup on my home network:

  • Router connected to set-top box:
  • Host: Mac OS X 10.5.4:
  • Guest: OpenSolaris 2008.05 : (VirtualBox NAT engine assigned)

The VirtualBox config looks like this:

VirtualBox NAT

And the guest sees the world thus:

OpenSolaris (Nat'ed)

What I want to do is configure VirtualBox and OpenSolaris to be a server with IP address, say.

Step 1. - Reconfigure VirtualBox

Shutdown your guest if it is running and go to the VirtualBox Console GUI.

Here is the Before config:

NAT Config

 And here is the After Config:

HIF Config

We changed 2 things:

  • Attached to: Host Interface
  • Host Interfaces: Airport (I don't use wired Ethernet in my house)
N.B. You might also have expected to have to change the NIC to a Server variant such as:
  • Adapter Type: Intel PRO/1000 T Server

...but I found that OpenSolaris got stuck during the boot sequence when I did this. (OpenSolaris experts out there, please explain. Random number generation?)

Now boot up the vm.

Step 2 - Configure OpenSolaris

Fat Bloke is not an OpenSolaris expert but he blindly followed the instructions in this excellent Observatory blog as follows: 

1 . Set IP address:

pfexec vi /etc/nwam/llp

and change from:

e1000g0 dhcp 


e1000g0 static

and restart nwam:

pfexec svcadm restart nwam

2. Get DNS Working:

pfexec vi /etc/resolv.conf

and add the address of the wireless router:


Also tell nsswitch.con to use dns to resolve hosts:

pfexec cp /etc/nsswitch.dns /etc/nsswitch.conf 

3. Routing

Configure the default router to be the wireless router:

pfexec vi /etc/defaultrouter

Add the line:

And restart the routing service:

pfexec svcadm restart network/routing-setup

4. Summary

So in summary here is my new OpenSolaris config:

OpenSolaris Config

Step 3 - Test it

Test it as a client

Simply firing up Firefox shows that things appear to be working:


And in actual fact Fat Bloke found Host Interface networking to be about xx% faster than NAT networking using exactly the same guest.

Test it as a server

An easy test is simply:

ssh jack@ 

(BTW you can easily add an entry to the Mac /etc/hosts file to give your server a name rather than using the IP address) 

from a Mac Terminal window like this:


or why not install a real server application such as an Apache web server, glassfish or whatever.

Here I've installed Sun Secure Global Desktop Software which provides remote access to a server via a browser based interface. I'm accessing it from my Mac, so I have a client and server all contained on one box.



Sun xVM VirtualBox is now great for running client and server vm's on Mac and Solaris hosts. The configuration interface is very simple and the performance improvement over NAT in Fat Bloke's tests is about 30% quicker.

But don't take my word for it ;-)

Monday Jun 23, 2008

Installing OpenSolaris 2008.05 as a guest in VirtualBox

This is a very straightforward blog of how to install OpenSolaris 2008.05 in a VirtualBox vm.[Read More]

Friday May 02, 2008

Sun xVM VirtualBox 1.6 is released!

You have to hand it to the VirtualBox engineers, nothing stops them churning out  top quality code at a rate of knots. You might think that the wind and the rain of an acquisition process would slow things down but it was business as usual. And the culmination of their efforts is Sun xVM VirtualBox 1.6 available right now!

So what's new in this release? In order of coolness and importance to the Fat Bloke here are my lucky 7 features:

1. Mac OS X is out of Beta and works great!

This is great professionally and personally. It means I can use all the platforms I need (Windows Vista and XP, Solaris and OpenSolaris, Ubuntu) at the same time.  I used to use Fusion but not any more. Check out seamless windows (make sure you have enough Video Ram if you have a big screen) and USB device support. Very cool! 

2. OpenSolaris and Solaris 10u5 as hosts.

Using OpenSolaris as a host for multiple Virtual Desktops (XP instances to be specific) is hugely powerful.  (Note that networking is limited to NAT in this release.)

3. Solaris Guest Additions.

Now I can really install and kick the tires of OpenSolaris without scrambling around to find hardware to put it on. New in this release are big things (seamless windows) and little things (mouse integration) which together make installing and using OpenSolaris, in particular, a breeze. 

4. Scalability improvements.

I don't know about you, but previously I couldn't run more than a couple of vm's simultaneously. 1.6 fixes whatever that was so now you can really confuse yourself with more windows of more varieties than you can shake a stick at.  

5. Gigabit ethernet for guests.

Just plain faster. 

6. SATA support for up to 32 disks.

Haven't used all 32 in a single guest yet though. 

7. Web Services APIs

For scripters - If you don't know the command line interface go read about VBoxManage in the User Manual. It is v. powerful. 

For code monkeys - check out the COM/XPCOM interfaces too.

New for code gorillas - Web Services APIs which make it easy to lash up an app which manages, controls or monitors VirtualBox  remotely, something prospective OEM partners will love.


The first release after an acquisition is an interesting one to watch for signs of interference and influence.

  • Would the mighty Sun Microsystems Inc. slow down the nimble and smart innotek guys?
  • Would the suits impose restraints that hadn't existed before?
  • Would Sun continue with the full range of platforms or only concentrate on their own?

It could have gone badly wrong. But I'm pleased to observe that for the ex-innotek guys and the VirtualBox community, it seems to be "Business as Usual". 


Wednesday Apr 30, 2008

FatBloke in love?

FatBloke has been absent for quite some time....and to what do we owe this absence:

  • vacation - FatBlokes are machines! They don't need vacation.
  • beer - hmmm, FatBlokes like beer but even so, 2 months absence is a bit rich.
  • love - That's it! FatBloke has a new love in his life and her name is VirtualBox

For sometime now, FatBloke has had an opinion on topics around Desktop Virtualization. Most of the time he has solved the need for:

  • a more secure desktop
  • a more functional desktop
  • a more available desktop taking a server based computing and SGD approach to life. This approach used servers and wires to deliver a richer, but more secure desktop than could be delivered traditionally.

And while this is a great approach, which delivers on the needs above, VirtualBox is a different client-side based approach which is compact, self contained and very elegant.  Let me explain...

VirtualBox is a Type-2 hypervisor which means it installs like a program on top of your existing system. So you don't need to wipe your existing machine. Once installed, you create Virtual Machines into which you can install your desired OS's. So here's what it looks like on a Mac host running OpenSolaris and Windows XP:

Screen shot 

 It can install on:


  • Windows Hosts - Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, Windows 2008;
  • Linux Hosts - Ubuntu, RedHat, SuSE, Debian....
  • Solaris Hosts - Solaris 10u5, OpenSolaris (beta at the moment);
  • Mac OS X Hosts - 10.4 and 10.5 (Beta)


And Guests can be:

  • Windows Guests - Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, Windows 2008, Windows NT, Windows 98, Windows 2000...
  • Linux Guests - Ubuntu, RedHat, SuSE, Debian....
  • Solaris Guests - Solaris 10u5, OpenSolaris (beta at the moment);
  • FreeBSD
  • OS/2
  • (more)

So on his MacBook Pro the FatBloke has all he needs: Mac, Windows, Solaris, Linux apps all at once.

In the next few posts I'll cover cool features of VirtualBox and explain why this is the coolest piece of technology that Sun has acquired in a long time. 

And the first reason is that VirtualBox is FREE (as in free beer) and Open Source (as in free speech).

So go download this roughly 20Mb gem and join the VirtualBox community.




Monday Jan 28, 2008

SGD 4.40.917

Part of the graphics subsystem of SGD is based on the project. Well because of a security vulnerability there is a re-released version of SGD now available.

Version 4.40.917 is now available and includes 2 significant additions:

  1. The security fixes.
  2. Support for Windows Terminal Services Session Directory.

This second is a feature that wasn't due to arrive until the next release but the team took the opportunity to include it as part of this rebuild.

This is good news, especially for people using a mixture of Sun Ray and non-Sun Ray clients.


Tuesday Jan 08, 2008

Speeding up LDAP queries when using Web Authentication

Some time back we discussed how to speed up LDAP authentication when logging into SGD. In this tip, we simply recommended reducing the user attributes that we search in order to authenticate a user given the provided credentials.

Well, nice tip as it was, it only works when you are logging in directly to SGD (using built-in authentication) and doesn't help if you are using Web Server Authentication. e.g. you're using something to protect the /sgd URI for example, a simple mechanism like Apache basic http authentication (.htaccess), or something powerful like Sun's Java System Access Manager to protect access to the /sgd URI.

If you're doing this, you need to configure an additional bean in the SGD system. And, to preserve your sanity, Fat Bloke recommends always keeping them in step by configuring them together:

/opt/tarantella/bin/tarantella stop
/opt/tarantella/bin/tarantella config edit cn mail
/opt/tarantella/bin/tarantella config edit cn mail
/opt/tarantella/bin/tarantella start

Sorry not to have mentioned this earlier ;-)


Wednesday Dec 12, 2007

SGD 4.4 - Protecting the Administration Console

Fat Bloke was recently asked about hiding, or really protecting, the new SGD administration console so that administration could only be done from say certain locations.

Well, I guess one of the advantages of making the Administration Console a web application is that we can use the power of the web server to help with this.

There are a couple of ways of doing this but I guess a simple way is to use the Apache Location directive:

<Location /sgdadmin>
    Order Deny,Allow
    Deny from all
    Allow from

For more info on how to drive this check the Apache doc.


Tuesday Dec 11, 2007

SGD 4.4 - The Administration Console

One of the major differences between version 4.4 and previous versions is the new web-based Administration Console.
Hopefully this is easier to use than the older Object Manager and Array Manager whose functions have now been coalesced into the one new tool.

Fat Bloke's readers are smart enough to find their own way around this tool so there's no tour here, but here are a few little known facts about the new tool:

  1. The SGD Administration Console is a pure web application which runs under the bundled Apache Tomcat and is located in the filesystem at
  2. It uses a Sun standard UI style shared by many other Sun infrastructure apps such as Directory Server, Identity Server, Sun Ray Server, etc.
  3. It picks up your locale from the browser. e.g. on Firefox this is set in the Preferences...General...Language box. (Hmmm, wonder why the webtop (/sgd) doesn't do this?)
  4. The underlying datastore layout changed to support the separation of:
    • applications
    • application servers
    • user information
    which means that when you upgrade to SGD 4.4 the install script reorganizes your ENS tree. To check this out, use a command line like this:
    /opt/tarantella/bin/tarantella object list_contents --name ""
    to traverse the ENS tree.
    Note that this also means that if you have scripts that create objects via the command line, their locations should be below the above top level OUs. e.g.
    /opt/tarantella/bin/tarantella object new_windowsapp --name "o=applications/cn=notepad" --width 800 --height 768 --depth 24 
    --appserv "o=appservers/cn=Windows Server 1" --icon notepad.gif --displayusing seamless
  5. It was developed using Netbeans and uses only the public web service interfaces (so you could build your own replacement if you don't like it :-) )

SGD 4.4 - Logging in, did something change?

Do you ever get that spooky feeling when you visit a place you've been before, but something is slightly different, and you can't put your finger on what has changed?
That's a bit like the login procedure for SGD 4.4.

In versions leading up to SGD 4.4, simply by hitting the http://servername/sgd URL you were delivered the SGD client in the form of a Java archive. This was before you had logged in.
Now with 4.4, you have to successfully login before you get the client.

If any of you have web applications that talk to SGD using its web services, this subtle change may mean you have to switch around a couple of calls. but this is covered on the SGD wiki

Monday Nov 19, 2007

SGD 4.4 just released.

News about the latest release.[Read More]

Wednesday Oct 17, 2007

Desktop Virtualization Podcasts

Sun is publishing a series of Desktop Virtualization Podcasts which are basically chat shows with different guests, talking about new developments in the space.

Check 'em out.


Fat Bloke


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