Practical Virtualization with VirtualBox - Virtualizing Operating Systems
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Each virtual machine has its tiny but effective BIOS. You may want to check it out. But right now what’s important to us is finding out the settings of the newly- created virtual machine. Select its label, right-click, and pick Settings. Navigate to the CD/DVD-ROM, and then you have two options. You may either link it to the Host CD/DVD drive (and pick your drive letter), or mount up an .iso image. Either way, mount up this virtual drive.
The installation process of a guest operating system (virtual OS) is much faster if you’re doing it via a .iso image. The reason for this is that the reading and seeking speed of an HDD is far faster than optical media devices are capable of giving. If you are just starting to visit the world of Linux distributions, then you should begin with Ubuntu. Download its latest installation image—pick the closest location and go!
VirtualBox supports numerous kinds of guest operating systems. Check out the entire list here. Moving on, as you can see from the previous Settings menu, Audio is disabled by default – you are free to enable it, if you need to. The same goes for floppy drives and serial ports; unless necessary, leave these disabled (less clutter). On the network pane we will have some configuring to do.
Once you enable your Network Adapter, by default it will be set on NAT. This is akin to Network Address Translation. It basically means your host machine acts as a NAT server and does the entire network address translation for your guest machine to be able to “reach outside” (read as: connect to the Internet). The only drawback with this is that you can’t connect to the guest machine from the outside world.
Selecting the NAT option is probably the preferred choice for most home users because it’s seamless and it always works. However, should you ever want to SSH on your guest machine from your host machine or any other machine from your LAN (if there are any), then you’d want to set this on Host Interface. Then you also need to select an interface that’s going to act as the Host Interface. Pick one from the list.
Furthermore, you can enable the VRDP Server. This is a Virtual Remote Desktop Protocol Server. If you enable this, then you can connect your virtual machine easily via the RDP protocol (from Windows, mstsc.exe). Shared Folders are self-explanatory.
One of the most practical functions of running virtual machines is the ability to save the machine execution state and to restore it at a later time. This is really productive for both office/business users, but also for home users. You can save lots of time by restoring the state and continuing where you’ve left it. It’s seamless and just works.
If you have opted to mount an .iso image to install the guest operating system, then don’t forget to navigate to the Settings menu once again and change the way you mount up your virtual CD/DVD-ROM. You should link it to your host CD/DVD-ROM and pick its drive letter (this is useful when you insert an optical media; you can see it from both operating systems—your host OS, but also from the virtualized guest).
As a final tip, be sure to install the VBoxGuestAdditions. This is an .iso image of 18 MB or so and can be downloaded easily. This Guest Addition package is something similar to VMWare Tools; it features mouse integration, auto-fit, auto-resize capabilities (this is really nice, since it dynamically changes your guest’s resolution when you resize your window to any size), and many others. It’s a great thing to have.
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