Kevin Kempf's Blog

March 24, 2011

Oracle VirtualBox

Filed under: Uncategorized — kkempf @ 9:23 am

Credit where credit is due

I thought I’d share a little gem I found about a year ago, which has served me so well that it merits a mention here.  I run 64-bit Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (Lucid Lynx) as my desktop (technically, notebook) OS at work.  There are times, however, when Windows is required:

  • Anytime IE is needed.  Whether because of some active-X (or whatever proprietary thing M$ is building these days),  IE-only check on a website, or IE “enhanced” features on Exchange webmail
  • Applications which are built for Windows only (Discoverer 11g administrator comes to mind)
  • GoTo Meeting web conferences

Wow this list got short!  It seemed just a few years ago, I was in Windows all the time for stuff.  Now I go weeks without firing up my VirtualBox.  I’m sure there’s more examples, I just can’t think of them now.

Regardless of why you might need a secondary OS, my point is that VirtualBox flawlessly delivers this capability to your PC for free.  Admittedly, that’s not really a word in Oracle’s vocabulary, so it’s no surprise that this product arose from their Sun acquisition, and it’s future might be in some doubt.  You can read about it and download it here.

One of the best things about this product is that, unlike most Oracle products, you can probably get it installed and mostly have it working without having to read a 50 page install document.  It’s really intuitive, and about the hardest part of the install was determining your disk/memory footprint and installing the client tools so it didn’t keep stealing my mouse.

What it does

Effectively, this program carves out a bit of disk (at your instruction) for the guest OS, and you allocate how much memory the new OS gets.  It then launches this Virtual machine in a window and you put in your install media and it behaves exactly like a new system.  When you are done, you have a windowed OS a click away.

Click start and the Wow is Now!

How is looks

Here’s a simple shot of my Windows 7 Desktop, running as a guest OS on my Ubuntu Linux Dekstop.  Full screen, you’d be hard pressed to know you’re even in a virtual machine.

Windows 7 running on Ubuntu

Don’t Forget

If you do set up this tool, enable virtualization technology (VT) on your CPU in the BIOS if it isn’t already by default.  Also, install the client tools into the guest OS so that the mouse doesn’t drive you crazy.  There are a few limitations you should be aware of, the biggest of which is that it cannot handle 3D graphics.

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