Sharing Folders in VirtualBox

One of the new features of the recently posted VirtualBox 2.2 beta1 is that you are finally allowed to share folders from an OpenSolaris guest to a MacOS host.  This increases the usability of VBox substantially for me because I've been using a workaround for a while.

It's easy to setup the sharing capability in the Virtualbox GUI. With your VM running:

Devices > Shared Folders

Enter the path of a folder on our Mac and the "Share" name that you will be using to reference it on your OpenSolaris system.  The folder name does not need to be related to the actual folder path.

UPDATE NOTE:  In Solaris 11 express build 151a, the initial user is NOT configured as Primary Administrator by default and the pfexec command listed below will not work until you give the user that role. 

  • System > Adminstration > Users and Groups
  • Click on your username and Properties
  • User Profiles tab, select  Primary Administrator and click OK 

On the OpenSolaris side, you need to mount the file system to make it visible to the user.

bash-3.2$ id
uid=101(jlaurent) gid=10(staff) groups=10(staff)

bash-3.2$ mkdir mac
bash-3.2$ pfexec mount  -F vboxfs -o uid=101,gid=10 jlaurent /export/home/jlaurent/mac

This, however, is annoying to do each time you reboot so it would be nice to have the file system mount on boot up.  Adding a line to /etc/vfstab should help.

 jlaurent    -    /export/home/jlaurent/mac    vboxfs    -    yes    uid=101,gid=10

Unfortunately, in my testing, this prevented the system from booting.  Thanks to Michael, I learned that this is because Solaris process vfstab BEFORE it completes the ZFS mount of my home directory in /export/home.  Changing the line to:

jlaurent    -    /mac    vboxfs    -    yes    uid=101,gid=10

Fixed the problem.  

However, it's not very convenient at /mac.  There are a few other options.

You can also add the line you your .bashrc file but that only takes effect when you start a new terminal window.  The best option for me was to place the line in the Gnome session startup scripts.

System > Preferences > Sessions > Add


There's a little trick, however, that was non-intuitive to me the first time I did this.  My file system was NOT mounting on login and I didn't know why.  I checked into my .xsession-errors file and found the message: mount: command not found.

As you can see in the screen shot above, the absolute pathname is required for commands executed during login.

Issues:

StarOffice and Gedit do NOT want to save data back into this folder even though cp and vi have no problem with it.  I'm still researching this issue.



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About

Jim Laurent is an Oracle Sales consultant based in Reston, Virginia. He supports US DoD customers as part of the North American Public Sector hardware organization. With over 17 years experience at Sun and Oracle, he specializes in Solaris and server technologies. Prior to Oracle, Jim worked 11 years for Gould Computer Systems (later known as Encore).

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