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Practical Virtualization with VirtualBox
By: Barzan 'Tony' Antal
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    Table of Contents:
  • Practical Virtualization with VirtualBox
  • Get it Up and Running!
  • Virtualizing Operating Systems
  • Final Thoughts

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    Practical Virtualization with VirtualBox - Get it Up and Running!

    (Page 2 of 4 )

    First things first; we need to download the latest version of VirtualBox. Visit their official websiteóhereóand download your chosen version for host. The binaries are released under the PUEL license, meaning itís free for personal use. Right now, to us, this is what matters. In the case of a work/office environment, you need to grab the source files (OSE edition) and compile VirtualBox yourself. That one is free, too.

    At the time of writing, the latest edition is 2.1.4. Just be sure to pick the right host version; for Windows machines, pick the Windows host one. "Host" basically means your main operating system, from which you will be virtualizing. The guest systems are basically the virtualized operating systems. And VirtualBox is the name of the tool that permits complete management of virtual boxes along virtual disks.

    Installing VirtualBox on MS Windows host machines is a seamless process. You should not have any problems following the instructions. Chances are that if you are using a Linux distribution as a host machine (your main operating system), then you ought to be pretty good at setting up new applications and configuring things. If this is the case, then installing VirtualBox shouldnít cause any trouble at all.

    Letís fast-forward through the installation process and assume everything is up and running by now. Launch Sun xVM VirtualBox. First we are going to use the Virtual Media Manager. This is where you can create virtual disk drives. The key to this concept is the "virtual" part. Click on New and the wizard will start. Youíre given two options for a storage type: dynamically expanding storage or fixed-size storage.

    Each one of them has its advantages. The former does not allocate the entire space, as its name suggests (dynamically expanding). This means that if you want to create a 20 GB virtual disk, itís not going to occupy that amount from your main HDD. But if you pick the latter option, the amount you choose is entirely allocated. This usually gives some sort of performance boost (itís not required to resize dynamically).

    As a home user, chances are youíll go with the dynamically expanding option. Itís the most seamless oneóand then you can set a more-than-sufficient amount for the virtual disk, so that if you really like it and want to use it for long-term or install/copy something on it, then you wonít run into space issues. But if you are using only 20 percent of the specified space, then itís not going to be unnecessarily allocated (itís not wasted!).

    The next step of the wizard asks you for the path where the virtual disk will be stored. This is going to be a .vdi extension. And, of course, as expected, you need to also specify the required size. The final step is telling it to resume everything to go further.

    Once youíve created your virtual disk, we can continue by going to the Machine -> New (CTRL+N) option. While using the wizard you get the option to apply any name/label to your OS; the type of OS gives a fancy icon to it. Then you need to specify the base memory size (this is the amount thatís allocated to your virtual machine); choose at least 512 MB if you donít want to struggle (but use less than 50 percent of your total RAM). As a final step, your newly-created virtual disk (.vdi) is recognized, so just finish the wizard.

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