Tag Archives: sun


Nice visit from a couple of friends on their way south from a few days on vacation.  Was really nice seeing them both even if I had to be rude and half-work while they were here.  They seem to have brought a change in weather with them – was overcast until they arrived and now it’s sunny and hot!

Can’t complain – fingers crossed it lasts the weekend we might get some more garden stuff done.

Sun xVM VirtualBox + Ubuntu

So even though I was initially seeing if I could run an XP sandbox inside Sun’s VirtualBox, I’ve ended up using the Ubuntu VM more than I thought I would.  I know I already said this but I really am impressed with the performance.  I’ve got it installed on my main machine and on a laptop.  They’re both decent machines (4-core or 2-core Pentiums), but I didn’t expect flicking between the VM and XP to be so smooth and for the operation of the VM to be so quick.

Yeh I’m gushing, but there you go.

I ended up re-working a bunch of Linux scripts I already had for backing up my websites locally, which I’d originally written when I was using a Debian machine, then changed to work under Cygwin, migrating that to an XP batch file using a different version of rsync.  So now I back the files up to a filesystem inside the VM, tar them up and move them to a directory outside of the VM (using the Shared Folders feature, which works really well).

I have some weird issues with permissions on the Shared Folder, the ‘root’ directory permissions of the mount point are r-xr-xr-x, subdirectories are fine (rwxrwxrwx).  Can’t work out if that’s me being dumb, Ubuntu being annoying or VirtualBox being crazy.

I wonder what performance would be like if I changed to Ubuntu as the host OS, with XP as the guest.  I wonder if Lord of the Rings Online (the only real game I play) would run smoothly.

I’ve messed with a straight Debian VM (using the latest test version of Debian) and that runs pretty well, but since Ubuntu is Debian under the covers, with a better look (the default Debian fonts are ugly compared to Ubuntu) I don’t think I’ll be keeping it.

So far the VM’s been pretty stable, I managed to crash it running dosemu inside it when I started Wing Commander II.  But I guess I can live without that 😉

Virtual Geekery – Sun xVM VirtualBox

Been playing with Sun’s xVM VirtualBox software again for a couple of days.  I find virtual machines fascinating.  Clearly emulators have been around since the dawn of computing, and in fact, the whole concept of writing software is in some ways emulation.  But the complexity of emulating an entire PC, within a PC, just makes me giggle.

In the daylight hours that I’m obliged to work I spend a lot of time dealing with virtualisation as it’s an increasingly popular technology, and I’ve messed around with virtual machines at home, but VirtualBox really is pretty smooth.

And I’m using it to satisfy my other geekery interest – Linux.  Anyone unlucky enough to have read this blog for a few years will know that I used to have much more Linux in the house, handling web, mail and a bunch of other things.  Over time it became clear that I was just doing it for the sake of it and that open source and free Windows software really was enough to get me by.  This was even more true when we bought new PC’s with XP licenses (I’ll leave that statement hanging, so you get the implication).

I’d messed with Linux desktops for quite a while, originally with SUSE and a little Red Hat, but I’d never gotten on very well with the X Windows environment, it was always too painful to me.  So for a long time I stuck to a server implementation of Debian (never got X working on the graphics card that I used in that machine) and stuck to the server side.  Lately however the desktop distributions have come on in leaps and bounds and coupled with Linux versions of Firefox and Open Office, they really do provide a significant amount of functionality that I use day to day at home.

So I stuck Ubuntu on a virtual machine and it runs really well, very impressed.  Despite the fact that it’s a VM it runs pretty quickly, more than useable.  I suspect other than games I could quite easily live with Ubuntu as my main OS and these days WINE is pretty good at supporting most games (if I understand it correctly).  The reason I won’t move fully is that I have a legit version of XP on this machine, it works fine, does everything I need it to do and plays games.  Which is exactly why Linux is still the underdog in the desktop wars and why you find people so upset about the bundling of OS’s with hardware.

The reason I started looking at VirtualBox again was actually nothing to do with Linux, I wanted to see if I could build a little sandbox running XP, in which I could install and run software that I’d downloaded to make sure it worked as expected and didn’t cause any issues, before installing it on the real image.  VirtualBox provides really nice snapshotting which can ‘roll back’ any malicious installs.  I’m really not sure how the XP licensing works though.  Can I run the same licensed version of XP on my machine, and inside a VM on the same machine legitimately?