Charlie Calvert on Elvenware

Writing Code and Prose on Computers


Virtual Box on Elvenware

I talk about VirtualBox and virtual machines in a number of places. Here is reasonably complete place. (I probably ought to bring all these together into a single Booklet called Virtual Machines.)

Windows 8 Hyper-v and VirtualBox

Windows 8 Hyper-V and VirtualBox do not get along. Issue two commands to be able to dual boot so that you have one version of Windows with Hyper-V and one without.

bcdedit /copy {current} /d "Windows 8 (No Hyper-V)" 

You will see a GUID. It will look something like this: {f3344558-9414-11e0-8d94-999f16891df9}. Copy that guid, (the one on your you system, not the one I show here) then issues a second command:

bcdedit /set {YOUR GUID} hypervisorlaunchtype OFF 

See this link:

Installing Windows On VirtualBox

In this section I describe how to install Windows in VirtualBox, and then Export and restore the appliance.

In this process, I have three goals I want you to achieve:

When learning about virtual systems, Android is an excellent operating system to start with since it is small, and has very limited resource requirements. With practice, one can install, export, and restore an Android system in just a few minutes. On my system, I could easily complete the whole cycle in 15 minutes, probably much less. This means you can practice performing various exercises with a virtual machine in a relatively short time span.

Though Android is stable and is built on top of Linux, it is still difficult to perform some routine operating system tasks on it without a deep knowledge of the Linux command line and architecture. As a result, once you have had a chance to learn the basics of Virtual computing using this small system, it is time to move on to more flexible tools. (I don't mean to imply that Android is a toy. You can do a lot of with it. But there are some tasks that are simpler to perform in more conventional operating systems.)

Android is not the only small, low resource version of Linux. If you search the web, you will find various versions of Linux designed to run on limited hardware. However, the popular, robust and VirtualBox-friendly Ubuntu distribution does have a very attractive set of minimum requirements that look like this:

Install Type RAM (minimal) RAM (recommended) Hard Drive
No desktop 64 megabytes 256 megabytes 1 gigabyte
With Desktop 64 megabytes 512 megabytes 55 gigabytes

Most students should have machines powerful enough to run Ubuntu Linux in VirtualBox with relatively little pain. They can then use this OS to explore a wide range of cloud based tools and scenarios. So our goal is this: do the best you can with resource hungry, but powerful and easy to use Windows. Then, if you find it is to slow or clumsy on your system, also learn to use Linux for some of the tasks wel will perform in this course.

Installing Windows

If you have a fairly powerful machine, Windows runs well in VirtualBox. I recognize, however, that not everyone in class has a machine of sufficient power to make this a practical option. Nevertheless, I want you to try, and simply report back to me what you experienced. Remember that if you are running on an underpowered system, you may have considerably more luck with the Linux install.

Vista in VirtualBox

Figure 07: Vista in VirtualBox Running on Windows 7. Click to enlarge.

On a warmed up custom $1000 desktop, I can boot to a VirtualBox Windows Vista Ultimate sign-in screen in about 50 seconds, and be working in a responsive desktop in about 70 seconds. That compares favorably with the time it would take my machine to boot into the operating system when it is installed on the bare metal. I know not everyone has similar hardware, but we must always look to the future, and if this capability is on (relatively cheap) high end machines today, it will be on many more machines within 2-5 years.

Before installing Windows in VirtualBox, here are some issues you might want to keep in mind right from the start:

Once you have Windows installed, you should export you appliance, as described above in Part I of this assignment. On my system, it took about 15 - 25 minutes to complete the export. I could then restore the system in about 3-5 minutes. Think about that for a minute. You can have a pristine, fresh install of Windows to play with in only 5 minutes. Use it, abuse it, when you are done, delete it. Then restore a new version in 5 minutes.

It is worth emphasizing that this is the same technology that makes modern cloud computing possible. Big companies like Microsoft, Amazon and others can deploy entire operating systems to virtual machines in their clouds with the click of a button or the execution of a line of code. The whole process need only take a few minutes to complete. This makes it possible for them to cheaply and easily run a lucrative business selling access to virtual machines to people who need such resources.