2014-11 At this time, I use VirtualBox when I need to build an appliance that I can move to a server, or when I need a machine to work on Windows or Linux hosts. Otherwise I use Parallels on my Mac now.
An example of an appliance is this one that I am building to allow me to run Skype on a server so that I can send notifications from Icinga to the support crew at CDS.
- 1 VirtualBox on Mac
- 2 VirtualBox for software development
- 3 Grab bag of tricks
- 4 Windows XP
- 5 MSDOS for legacy applications
VirtualBox on Mac
It seems everytime I upgrade I have this problem. Upgrade fails. Uninstall and upgrade fails. I think it is because kernel modules don't get unloaded. This seems to work:
- Download new version.
- Run uninstaller.
- Run installer.
Migration from Parallels to VirtualBox
My goal was to move back to a desktop for ArcGIS now that I have landed in a house and can set up the big 2 monitor set up. (Laysan)
I was able to do the migration as described below, but I was not able to use ArcGIS on the resultant machine, so I am now using my Mac with 2 external displays instead. It's a pain but it will do for now.
The migration steps are:
Export from Parallels
- In the existing VM, clean any junk you don't need anymore.
- Delete any old snapshots on the Parallels VM.
- Clone the Parallels machine.
- Adjust any config settings you need to change.
- Start the clone.
- Uninstall Parallels Tools.
- Run the "VMWare vCenter Converter" (it's free) and export the local "physical" machine to somewhere. This is tricky because you can't save it to the local drive and when you remove Parallels Tools you lose most of the services like network. I used an external SSD on a USB port.
It took about an hour and 20 minutes to export. It then threw ugly error messages but it did create a VMDK file so I am going to try it out anyway.
Import to VirtualBox
- Create a new VirtualBox VM.
- Set up the VB machine as much like the Parallels machine as possible. Clone the MAC 001C42800057. 2 x64 cores, 8GB RAM
- Connect the copied VMDK file to the new VB machine.
- Launch the VB machine.
- Install VirtualBox tools in it.
- On the Mac, destroy the clone. Or mark it as a backup. You don't need it anymore.
VirtualBox for software development
I am using VirtualBox for all sorts of development work now.
I set up virtual machines and copy them to my laptop so that I can continue working, no matter where I am.
As the host operating system I use Ubuntu on the desktop and Mac OS X on the laptop. I used to use Windows 7 at work because that's the "official" desktop OS. I switched to Ubuntu, moved development to a VM, and no one has noticed!
In virtual machines (as guest operating systems) I use XP, Win 7 32 bit, and Win 7 64 bit, switching machines as required for testing and development.
On Ubuntu I run OpenOffice and Firefox and Gimp sundry other open source tools to get the non-development work done.
Grab bag of tricks
Expand a hard drive
Installing video drivers
I was able to get into Safe Mode by doing a "Reset" (Host-R) while the machine was starting up. This forces it into the menu where you can pick Safe Mode.
YAY YAY YAY Kudos to VirtualBox developers. The current version 4.1 has a working CLONE button. I can delete half my notes!
Setting up a second monitor
In version 4, you have to stop the machine, open Settings, go to Display and adjust the slider to add a second monitor. I have not tried more than 2. Each monitor appears in a separate window and you can move them around and maximize them or go to full screen mode.
Does not work for me. 11-Aug-2010 Under Settings->Display->3D Acceleration
I jumped through the hoops, booting in SAFE mode, installing the drivers, and rebooting only to get a black screen. I had to turn 3D off again to get back up and running.
I make extensive use of workspaces, so Workspace 1 is normal Ubuntu with a browser, and Workspace 2 is my Windows environment. From Windows you can type the Host key (right control on Ubuntu) to escape from the Windows virtual machine then Ctl-Alt-Arrow key to move to a different workspace. It becomes automatic after a few hours of use.
Mac has workspaces too, use Ctl-1, Ctl-2... to switch.
I vaguely remember there was a version of Windows known as "Windows XP". :-) I leave these notes here for posterity.
XP Serial ports
I wanted to be able to use a GPS device on XP. The GPS connects to the Macintosh via bluetooth, which sees it as /dev/tty.BTGPS3333330C4837-Seria (that's a mouthful.)
I created a connection in VirtualBox using "Host Device" and putting that device string into the device box in the GUI. It works fine except XP can't see it! I put it at COM1 in the GUI (that is, XP should see the BT GPS at COM1)
The problem is that XP plug and play is not working. You have to manually configure the serial port.
- Control Panel->Add hardware
- Click "next" to start discovery.
- Select "yes..." then click next.
- Select "add new hardware device" from the end of the list, click next.
- Select "Search for"... and it should find the communications port.
- In my case it thought the GPS was a MS Serial Mouse, so I went into the hardware manager and disabled the serial mouse.
MSDOS for legacy applications
I need to set up a MSDOS virtual machine to run a program that talks to my vintage Magnavox GPS reference station.
I've done it in the past with VMWare but have pretty much switched over to VirtualBox now.
The problem is, at the moment the server connected to the GPS station is in the garage. I moved put the Magnavox in the garage because that's where the antenna wire is right now. Both antennas. The GPS antenna and the 420 MHz transceiver that will transmit DGPS corrections.
Anyway more on that later / elsewhere. The whole point of this page is to describe how to set up a virtual machine to run on a server, using VirtualBox.
I intend to try to get it going from the command line. In theory I should be able to open a VNC session to see the DOS window, let's see if the theory pans out.
Here we go.
Create a machine.
One CPU with 640K would be enough but I have to give it a minimum of 4MB! No network card. Minimum video RAM. No CDROM drive. This is so easy.
VBoxManage createvm --name MSDOS --ostype DOS --register VBoxManage modifyvm MSDOS --memory 1 --nic1 none --audio none VBoxManage modifyvm MSDOS --bioslogodisplaytime 1
The whole point is to talk to a Magnavox GPS receiver, and that happens on COM1
VBoxManage modifyvm MSDOS --uart1 0x3F8 4 --uartmode1 /dev/ttyS0
Show the results of our labours
VBoxManage showvminfo MSDOS
Create virtual hard disk.
It does not have to be big. 20 megabytes should be plenty.
VBoxManage createhd --filename MSDOS_20MB.vdi --size 20
Connect the hard disk to the machine.
VBoxManage storagectl MSDOS --name IDE0 --add ide VBoxManage storageattach MSDOS --storagectl IDE0 --port 0 --device 0 --type hdd --medium MSDOS.vdi
Put the (virtual) MSDOS installer floppy into the (virtual) floppy drive
You can still download the installer from Microsoft MSDN! So I thought. It's an UPGRADER, you have to have MSDOS installed already. Microsoft, once again I spit on you. What are you thinking?
So instead I turned to FreeDOS from http://www.freedos.org/
# Register the FreeDos disc image VBoxManage openmedium dvd `pwd`/fdfullcd.iso # Attach the disc to the machine VBoxManage storageattach MSDOS --storagectl IDE0 --port 0 --device 1 --type dvddrive --medium `pwd`/fdfullcd.iso # Add a floppy drive to the machine VBoxManage storagectl MSDOS --name FD0 --add floppy # Register the floppy disk image VBoxManage openmedium floppy `pwd`/Magnavox.IMG # Attach it VBoxManage storageattach MSDOS --storagectl FD0 --port 0 --device 0 --type fdd --medium `pwd`/Magnavox.IMG
Fire it up.
VBoxHeadless -s MSDOS --vrdp on --vrdpport 5000 --vrdpaddress 192.168.123.1 Oracle VM VirtualBox Headless Interface 3.2.8 (C) 2008-2010 Oracle Corporation All rights reserved. Listening on port 5000.
YAY! On the Macintosh now I can use the Microsoft RDP client that I downloaded from http://www.microsoft.com/mac/products/remote-desktop/default.mspx
After running through the FreeDOS installation, I remove the virtual CD, change the boot order, and attach the Magnavox floppy disk image.
VBoxManage modifyvm MSDOS --boot1 disk VBoxManage storageattach MSDOS --storagectl FD0 --port 0 --device 0 --type fdd --medium `pwd`/Magnavox.img VBoxHeadless -s MSDOS --vrdp on --vrdpport 5000 --vrdpaddress 192.168.123.1
I copied the one little file that I needed to the virtual hard disk and disconnected the virtual floppy.
VBoxManage storageattach MSDOS --storagectl FD0 --port 0 --device 0 --type fdd --medium none
Mount the image of the floppy drive and copy the contents to the virtual hard drive.