Sunday May 11, 2008

My Weekend with xVM VirtualBox 1.6

I did a quick install of xVM VirtualBox 1.6 a bit more than a week ago.  Then I got sucked into the JavaOne vortex, so it wasn't until Saturday that I got some really quality time to play with it.  So, I sat down on my Dell home PC (at XPS 400 if you must know) and set about trying some new things.

The first thing I decided to do was install the new OpenSolaris.  It was very smooth, and is even slicker than the Developer Preview 2 I'd done previously with VirtualBox 1.5.  One of the things I noticed after I booted from the Live CD image was that I was only using one CPU core doing the install (no surprised that this is a single threaded process).  So, I decided to get really greedy and created a second VM and installed the newest Ubuntu 8.0.4 release at the same time.  Here's a little picture of what it looks like (click the image for a full size link).

Installing OpenSolaris and Linux simultaneously on top of Windows XP -- how crazy is that?!?  The scary thing is, that it works like a dream.  The really scary thing is that I'm a relative newbie at using VirtualBox and I'm barely UNIX literate (having spent my early career developing on Mac and mostly using Windows these days for my work computers).  While a Solaris install may once have been only for certified Solaris system admins, that doesn't need to be the case anymore.

Now, there were a couple of little gotchas where I needed help (but Google was very helpful at finding me some pages).  The first thing I needed help with was getting the OpenSolaris networking going inside VirtualBox.  It turns out I had to change the default VirtualBox network adapter Intel Pro/1000MT from PC Net-Fast III and I was on my way.  Second thing I needed help with was installing the OpenSolaris guest additions.  The "guest additions" are software bits that you install into the guest OS that allows it to integrate with VirtualBox very tightly.  VirtualBox makes this easy by providing a menu item to automount a phantom CD-ROM to the desktop of the guest with all the software you need, but you must use a few commands to get it installed (any Solaris admin would know what to do -- I'm not a Solaris admin).  Fortunately, there is a nice little entry someone put together comp-sos web site that walks you through the whole thing.  Very Nicely Constructed!  xVM pubs team should take note!

Doing the Ubuntu install was also very straight forward.  I know the VirtualBox team has been working wth Ubuntu for a long time, and it shows.  Again, the only thing that stumped me was the details on installing the guest additions.  However, I quickly found this article that made it all clear.

Kudos to the VirtualBox and OpenSolaris teams.  Two major releases that work great together!

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Thoughts on cloud computing, virtualization and data center management from Steve Wilson, Oracle engineering VP.

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