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Rock Your Linux


VirtualBox Guest Additions on Real Machine – PXE Boot

VirtualBox guest additions installs a video driver called vboxvideo. It allows for the machine to adjust its resolution to the dimensions of the application windows. It also allows for seamless mouse movement between the host machine and the virtual window. I manage a server that runs VirtualBox to host several machines. The host is located in an air conditioned server room separated from the main office by some distance. In the office I have a windows machine that typically boots to a Windows XP desktop. VirtualBox is installed with a guest configured to pxe boot from the server host.

I would like to boot an interface, using pxe, with guest additions functional. Apparently guest additions does not play nicely with the various VirtualBox kernel modules required for actual machines. I have enabled the vboxvideo module in lts.conf (/var/lib/tftpboot/ltsp/i386/lts.conf) and it does configure xorg.conf of the pxe client properly, but it does not seem to work. Maybe its because the host server uses the nvidia driver? The main /etc/X11/xorg.conf is configured with nvidia; I have tried it with vboxvideo, but that did not make sense to me so I quickly reverted the change.

How else would ltsp clients be configured; other than lts.conf?


VirtualBox – Peaking Interest as a Serious Competitor

I’ve said for year VirtualBox was good stuff. I’ve used it since it was previously owned directly by Innotek. Now that Sun has purchase the relatively small European company, the software has exploded with new features and stability. Years ago usb support was in its infancy. Now its robust. Years ago processor support was limited, now its fully SMP enabled. I like the nested paging option reducing ram overhead, and integrating guests into, rather than partitioning, the host. A while back there was problems with the host processor no syncing completely with the guest, causing load when no guest load was present. This was resolved a long time ago, and now running multiple machines only causes load on the lost when load is indeed in the guest. My system has run stably for a long time now, only requiring host reboots when new updates are available.

How can paid system compete with free? I can understand in a Corporate environment commercial support may be needed. In such an application I would imagine Sun provides commercial level support for their VirtualBox product. This is indeed the case for the paid systems of Vmware, Parallels, and others. But ultimately if in house tech support is up to the task VirtualBox is a free product. This also allows for people to get their hands on it for learning purposes. I have learned VirtualBox by working it for years. I am very much discouraged to learn many software packages because I would have to pay for it. I will not be learning Windows 7 for this reason.

San Francisco – Desktop virtualization is one of those technologies that confound the experts. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, along comes some interloping development to upset the apple cart. Most recently, that role has fallen to Sun’s VirtualBox, the plucky open source VM solution that’s quickly gobbling up the general-purpose desktop virtualization space left vacant by Microsoft and VMware. Users from the three major platforms — Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux — are flocking to VirtualBox for its scalability, robust networking, and bargain price point (it’s free).[Source]


VirtualBox Bridge and Tap no Longer Needed – Built in

With recent version of VirtualBox you no longer need to create a bridge and tap to enable host networking. In the settings panel of the virtual machine, select the network tab, and make sure that its set on bridged adapter. VirtualBox automatically creates a virtual ethernet adapter, and bridges it to the network of the host machine.

Bridging to the host network is necessary for the virtual machine to get an ip address from the router. Such a configuration is needed to communicate with the machine from the outside world. Because of this feature virtual machines can server website, and other services. I use my virtual machine to host this website, a visual ftp server, a wiki, and an EyesOS server.

There are other ways to forward individual ports from the host system to the guest, but then the ports on the host machine will not be accessible on the host; they will virtually represent the guest OS thus hindering connectivity with the host machine. There may be instances where this is what is wanted and more information, including instruction, can be found on this previous post.

The following is a screenshot of the network tab in VirtualBox. It had a bridge adapter option that will autobridge the connection to an existing ethernet adapter. Bare in mind that this is the screen from a Linux install of VirtualBox and it might be different in Windows. I remember in Windows you might have the option to create a virtual ethernet adapter, and then you can bridge the connection all in VirtualBox. Nothing needs to be done manually anymore, and everything can be done from within the VirtualBox configuration panels.

Screenshot-Windows XP - Settings

Here is a screen from Windows Vista. Go to the network tab of the virtual machine settings:

Network settings

Then select the attach to drop down menu:


Then change the attach to, drop down menu, to bridged adapter:

Bridged adapter


Windows Host – Linux Guest – Seamless Mode

In pre 2.0 VirtualBox seamless mode was only for Windows guests on linux hosts. Now Linux guests on Windows hosts benifit from this invaluable feature. Albeit there are not many instances where a graphical linux program is require without a Windows alternative, but if need be the feature is available. Just boot up your guest, and hit your hotkey + l and viola, VirtualBox rips the gnome, or kde docks right off the desktop and slaps it into Windows. Frankly it can’t get much better than this, and my main hopes for the future is better linux kernel support further reducing host CPU load when the guests are idle. This will further realize the dream of virtualization, which is the deployment of multiple virtual machines on a single host system. The less host CPU load experienced results in more guest OSs being deployable.


Nagios Virtual Server Monitoring in 15 Minutes – Intro

Nagios allows you to graphically monitor your virtual servers from a single web page. No longer will you have to load each individual website or web service in order to verify consistent operation. Nagios can be downloaded directly from their website at: On the Nagios homepage is a link to a 15 minute tutorial, which is relatively straight forward, and works like a charm. I recommend Ubuntu JeOS for your virtual OS specifically because the kernel works flawlessly with the host operating system.


Windows is a CPU Hog Versus Linux

Seriously I have 4 guest Linux operating system running at the same time, and the host CPU is not nearly as busy as when a single Windows OS is running. Windows literally consumes the same amount of CPU power as maybe 10 Linux operating systems running simultaneously. I use Windows XP in seamless mode to have the benefits of browser compatibility checking, and other Windows only applications; the CPU requirements of Windows is simply tremendous. Although you can significantly reduce your Windows CPU requirements by turning off the page file system. Frankly on a machine with over 2 Gigabytes of ram, the page file system is simply not required.