Monday, May 05, 2008

VirtualBox: WinXP on Ubuntu. Fast. Finally.

Now that my Ubuntu laptop is beefed up, I had the opportunity to recreate my old old proprietary development desktop. Also, Ive been using VMWare ESX Server alot at work lately, so just to be different, I decided to use something new. Something free preferably.

VirtualBox, from Innotek Gmbh, yet another German company snapped up by Sun, has a great solution. In Ubuntu, I naively did an "Application/Add Software..." and selected "Virtual Box OSE" to be installed. It downloaded, did its thing, and in the "Application/System Tools/Virtual Box OSE" menu item, launched.

I created a 7GB Virtual Harddisk, and clicked on "Start" to boot up the Virtual Machine.

Immediately I got this error:

Yup, "vboxdrv kernel module was either not loaded or /dev/vboxdrv was not created for some reason." It then tells me to install "virtualbox-ose-modules". Bokay:
# apt-get install virtualbox-ose-modules
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
Package virtualbox-ose-modules is a virtual package provided by:
  • virtualbox-ose-modules-2.6.24-16-virtual 24
  • virtualbox-ose-modules-2.6.24-16-server 24
  • virtualbox-ose-modules-2.6.24-16-rt 24
  • virtualbox-ose-modules-2.6.24-16-openvz 24
  • virtualbox-ose-modules-2.6.24-16-generic 24
  • virtualbox-ose-modules-2.6.24-16-386 24
You should explicitly select one to install.
E: Package virtualbox-ose-modules has no installation candidate

GGgg! So many choices! I guess its right that "Its not about choosing, but about having a choice"! So I just guessed:
# apt-get install virtualbox-ose-modules-2.6.24-16-generic
And it proceeds to download 326KB worth of extra precompiled modules. Now you'd have thought that they would include it anyway, so it would make the steps alot easier, but I guess sysadmins need to make their living.

I also had to add myself in the vboxusers group:
# gpasswd -a yky vboxusers
Finally, the VM booted up, and I successfully installed the glorious Windows XP SP2 into it. Brings back so many memories. Its been quite some time since Ive relied on a proprietary desktop to do my daily work.

The performance of VirtualBox is quite good. I tried Qemu a long time ago, and that was sluggish. This was fast and responsive. Installation from CD was not a problem. Everything worked well. There is also a feature to "Install Guest Additions", and the VirtualBox manager will then download a 5MB ISO which can be mounted as a CD.

Run "Setup.exe" from the drive, and you should have a more "seamless" experience, in that your mouse will not be caught (and have to be released with the Right Cntrl key), and also the desktop screen resolution can be changed on-the-fly, just by resizing the VirtualBox window! Neat feature.

I resized the desktop to a little. WinXP now looks like a Windows CE emulator.

I installed my Windows dev tools, and response is better than I could ask for from a real Free (as in Freedom) Virtual Machine. Whats great is that it supports my non-VT Centrino processor. Load on the CPU is low, and a 512MB VM chugs along quite well on my 1.7GHz 1.2GB host.

So I wholly recommend this application for el proprietary desktop application needs. Its quite good! Installation could be easier, but its a hell of a lot easier years ago. Well done Sun! Must have been Colin's fault yet again.


1 lewser:

byte said...

Huh? Fault? Me?

For what its worth, this was a smart decision by Sun, and pre-dates even me joining... Smart purchase nonetheless.

And glad you like it...