Tuesday Jul 22, 2008

Working with VirtualBox and OpenSolaris 2008.5 on Windows XP Home

This is a virtualization config example utilizing Windows XP as the Host OS and OpenSolaris 2008.05 as the Guest OS. This is also my 1st hands on with virtualization. The concept of virtualization is simple to grasp, it's just another sort of multitasking for computers, something they already excel at.

Virtualization has the potential for enormous growth if it can live up to expectations around energy savings through computer consolidation and smaller data centers and real or perceived performance issues. In my world, this provides us with a way to wring out all the cycles and resources out of the lab equipment we have available to us.

In specific "geek" terms, this is example of a Hosted or Type 2 hypervisor environment. The hosted OS, OpenSolaris, is running 3 levels above the Intel x86 hardware. In comparison, a Bare-metal or Type 1 hypervisor environment runs on the hardware directly. The Guest OS runs at the second level above the hardware. Bare Metal/Type 1 is the virtualization you get with the T1000 and T2000 servers and Logical Domains (LDOMS).

The Hypervisor is the software that implements the VMM (Virtual Machine Monitor), which allows multiple OS' to run on the same machine simultaneously.

Different hypervisor implementations use different methods to provide the Virtualization Layer. Differences include whether the guest OS is aware of the hypervisor or not; whether the hypervisor translates OS instructions on the fly or provides hypercalls to the virtualization layer hypervisor; or if HVM (Hardware Assisted Virtualization) will be used. There are varying degrees of performance among these different approaches.

One Toshiba Satellite model A105 - S361 Intel laptop with the following stats:

Centrino Pentium M 2.0 GHz
1 GB of RAM
120GB HD
Windows XP home version 2002 SP2

Sun xVM VirtualBox 1.6.2 for Windows (x86), Multi-language, 22.53 MB

OpenSolaris 2008.05 ISO

VirtualBox user guide

Part One
Install VirtualBox on laptop. This requires 44MB on the hard drive, while the subfeatures require 164KB. These subfeatures consist of VirtualBox USB support (100KB) and VirtualBox network adapter driver.

As the product documentation notes, the VirtualBox setup program "has not passed windows Logo testing to verify its compatibility with Windows XP".

Part Two
Run VirtualBox and create an OpenSolaris virtual machine allocating the recommended base memory size of 512MB. Select a hard disk image. I click NEW and use the default file location and name (OpenSolaris 2008.05 and .VirtualBox\\VDI\\OpenSolaris 2008.05.vdi under the xp user root's documents and settings. 16GB VHDD to reported to the Guest OS). The final summary is displayed and hit finish to create the HDD image

Now the Virtual Hard Disk box is redisplayed and there is now a item in the dropdown list under "Boot Hard Disk (Primary Master)". With that selected, hit next. [noted that the finish dialog box indicated that the settings of any created virtual machine can be changed at any time using "the 'settings' dialog accessible through the menu of the main window".

Start of my new VM that is now displayed in the main window. A box is displayed regarding using the right control key. It reads:

"You have the Auto capture Keyboards option turned on. This will cause the VM to automatically capture the keyboard every time the VM windows is activated and make it unavailable to the other apps running on your host machine: when the keyboard is captured, al keystrokes (including systems ones like alt-tab) will be directed to the VM. You can press the host key at any time to uncapture the keyboard and mouse if it is captured and return them to normal operation. The currently assigned host key is shows on the status bar at the bottom of the Virtual Machine windows, next the (down arrow) icon. This icon, together with the mouse icon placed nearby, indicate the current keyboard and mouse capture state. The host key is currently defined as Right Ctrl. [Do not show this message again]". I find that my laptop keyboard has no right control key (only a left and that doesn't work for that purpose, so I use the windows "three finger salute" (control=alt=delete), close the task manager that opens and I'm back to my host OS.

Part Three
now I can add the opensolaris ISO to the list. A twist: I am adding this ISO from the shared documents folder on my desktop PC, so that the path to the bootable ISO is \\\\cora\\shareddocuments\\os200805.iso. Meaning that I'm pulling in the ISO info over the windows CIFS network.

Now OpenSolaris is found and will startup within the virtual machine. I'm now looking at the GRUB menu. Entering the OpenSolaris option; now there are dots going slowly across the screen and the little "hdd" icon at the bottom of the VM window is blinking away. Now the "preparing live iage for use" displays the keyboard and language choices. I am prompted to change the 24 bit color mode of the XP host OS to 32 bit, but that's what I'm already doing. Restarting after changing XP to 16 bit video does the trick.

After another warning about how the Auto Capture Keyboards feature works (time to shut that off now), I'm looking at an Opensolaris desktop running in the VirtualBox VM. There is currently a dialog box telling me that e1000g0 is up with address I can't get to the defaultrouter on my internal network (a netgear router) and am unable to add a defaultroute (Network is Unreachable). Back to the user guide and now I understand that the VM has configured NAT for me and sure enough, I can get to www.sun.com.

That completes my 1st attempt at virtualization and 2nd attempt to run OpenSolaris. The next config to try is to re-partition the hard drive and configure OpenSolaris as a dual boot with Windows XP. Or I can just have fun with my OpenSolaris Virtual Machine and save the trouble. Or I can run virtualbox on Solaris and create some Windows VMs. Or Linux VMs. I hate the cliche about "endless possibilities", but it fits here and fits virtualization in general.


Making the net work, because the network IS the computer!


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