Recommendation for a virtual machine

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foersu
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Recommendation for a virtual machine

Post by foersu » Fri Aug 14, 2015 5:40 am

Hi,

which virtual machine would you recommend? My aim is to test further Linux distros like Mint xfce (no Windows at all!).
Is it possible to establish connections to the internet (web, mail, etc) out of the guest system running in the virtual machine?
Is it possible to access the folders with my documents on the host system and make permanent changes in files like editing, creating, deleting them?

In some posts it is stated that VirtualBox 5.0 has some problems, better to use an older Version. If VirtualBox would be the choice: which version would you recommend?

My system:
Linux Mint 17.2 64 bit, Cinnamon

Thanks in advance for your answers!

P.S.: my questions might appear to be very elementary, what they surely are: I am a newby in this theme.

Cosmo.
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Re: Recommendation for a virtual machine

Post by Cosmo. » Fri Aug 14, 2015 6:23 am

1. Take the latest version of VB 4.3, at this time 4.3.30.
2. No problem, the virtual machines (VM) are connected with the Internet out of the box.
3. Accessing folders on the host is possible with some needed settings. But you should at first make a start, before we write a book here.

BTW: There is a detailed help for VB, which you can open from the menu. Don't hesitate to ask again, if you cannot find the needed informations.

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Re: Recommendation for a virtual machine

Post by foersu » Fri Aug 14, 2015 7:25 am

Thank you for your prompt answer and information Cosmo.
I'm glad to hear that there is a detailed help for VB, which I can open from the menu, but ... which "menu" do you mean :?:

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Re: Recommendation for a virtual machine

Post by Cosmo. » Fri Aug 14, 2015 7:32 am

The first thing you will do after installation is to open the VB manager. This has a menu bar as most other programs too. But also every VM has such a menu bar and the help menu is also there.

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Re: Recommendation for a virtual machine

Post by foersu » Mon Aug 17, 2015 7:53 am

Where can I find the deb-package to install? (I suppose it is a deb-package).

In the web page of Oracle, I found only packages for the version 5.0.2, which seems to cause problems.
As I was advised , I am looking for version 4.3.30.

As my system ist Mint 17.2 64 bit Cinnamon, I looked for the equivalent version for Ubuntu 14.04. I hope it is right.

I also had a look via Synaptic. There, versions 4.3.28 and 5.0.2 are available.

Which one should I take?
Thanx!

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Re: Recommendation for a virtual machine

Post by Cosmo. » Mon Aug 17, 2015 8:02 am

Scroll the download page of Oracle some way down, then you see the link for older builds.

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Re: Recommendation for a virtual machine

Post by foersu » Mon Aug 17, 2015 9:24 am

Thanx, Cosmo, yes, in the mean time I found the older builds.

However, what about the versions offered in Synaptic? Is the version 5.0.2 really so bad, or would be the version 4.3.28 be sufficient for me?
I know, last question depends on my needs, I just want to try other linux distros, like xfce basing on Mint or basing on debian.
Regards

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Re: Recommendation for a virtual machine

Post by Cosmo. » Mon Aug 17, 2015 11:21 am

It is an old experience by me, that VB-major releases need several minor updates, before they run more or less trouble-free. I use VB since 7 years (version 1.6) and this experience has been confirmed again and again.

I recommend in case of VB to download from their website the latest release of 4.3 branch, at this time is 4.3.30. The 4.3. branch is still in active development, so not something old. If V5 has some time for further development and refinement behind its back, you can upgrade. On the other side - this is true for nearly any kind of software, not only for BV - downgrading a software can be problematic and should be avoided.

Installing from the DEB-download is easy and very self-explaining: Double click the file, click on install, enter your password and give the installer some time (1 or 2 minutes) to do its job.

So in short: As long as you do not urgently need the new features, stay with 4.3. Especially for that, what you plan to do I do not see, why you should need V5. On the other side, if something does not work, how should you tell, if this is a problem with the Mint-version you are trying or with the VB-software?

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Re: Recommendation for a virtual machine

Post by foersu » Mon Aug 17, 2015 4:28 pm

Hello Cosmo,

I intend to follow your recommendation and install version 4.3.30.
When I saw in Synaptic version 4.3.28 I considered to take this one. Due to my lack on knowledges about the packages, installation, dependencies between them, etc., I tend to feel more comfortable when installing from the own repositories.

However I decided to install, as I said, version 4.3.30 from the Oracle web site.

I seems to be, that the installation of an Extension Pack is also necesary or useful, so e.g. for the use of USB devices in the guest system.

Do you know in which order the packes (VM and Exension Pack) have to be installed, or an installation description somewhere in the web?

Regards

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Re: Recommendation for a virtual machine

Post by Cosmo. » Mon Aug 17, 2015 5:58 pm

As I already wrote above installing via DEB-file is a matter of a double-click. The prerequisites are already there in Mint, in case additional packages are needed (to my remembrance none), they get downloaded from the repositories and installed automatically.

After installation you find in the the menu the VB Manager. From its menu you can reach the very complete help file. If you want it before installing VB or prefer it in PDF format you can find it on the download-page of VB.

Yes, the extension pack should be installed. Download it and install it. You can again do this via double-click or you open in the VB Manager the file menu -> global settings and go the section about the extension pack and install from there.

Next step: Add your user to the group vboxusers. Do this with users & groups. You must log out and back in to make this effective.

Now create your first virtual machine. There is no need to open the VM settings to attach an installation media (either physical DVD or an ISO-file). If you start the machine for the first time with obvious an empty virtual hard disk VB recognizes this situation and asks for the DVD / ISO-file. (ISO-file is preferable, because quicker.)

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Re: Recommendation for a virtual machine

Post by foersu » Thu Aug 20, 2015 6:25 am

Thanx, very detailed infos.

When installing VirtualBox an amount of RAM (recommended is the half of the whole amount) and the "Harddisk" size (I think recommended are 8 GByte?) have to be reserved.
I would take the option "fix size" for the harddisk (I do not know if my terms are correct, because I read an article in German and I am translating them "free hand").

Questions:
  • As long as VirtualBox hasn't been started (i.e. only the host OS is running, Mint in my case), all the RAM of the computer will be available: no RAM will be keeped reserved for the guest OS within VirtualBox. Is this correct?
  • The amount of storage reserved for the Harddisk remains reserved, i.e. not available for the host OS, despite of the fact that VirtualBox has been started or not. Is this correct?
  • If the half of the RAM has been reserved for VirtualBox: does it noticeable slow down the reactiveness (response) of the host system?
  • Which values for RAM and harddisk would you recommend? (I think my notebook has 500 GB HD and 4 MB RAM)
  • In the reserved harddisk space, the guest OS and all related Data I generate within the VM is contained, e.g. new installed programms, own files, etc. No additional HD storage will be needed. Is this correct?
Regards

Cosmo.
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Re: Recommendation for a virtual machine

Post by Cosmo. » Thu Aug 20, 2015 7:08 am

foersu wrote:When installing VirtualBox an amount of RAM (recommended is the half of the whole amount) and the "Harddisk" size (I think recommended are 8 GByte?) have to be reserved.
The needed amount of RAM depends from the edition of Mint (Cinnamon, Mate, XFCE, KDE). Half the amount of the physical available RAM would mean in your case 2 GB. This will be in any case enough, but for Cinnamon 64 Bit also 1.5 GB will do and also 1 GB would work. You can later change the amount of RAM you assign to a virtual machine, so you are not stuck with the amount you give at the beginning. (At least this is true for Linux; if you do this with a virtual Windows, you might possibly break the activation and must perhaps activate the license again after that.)

8 GB hard disk size is indeed the value that VB recommends, if you choose while selecting Ubuntu 64 Bit in the first step (type and version). But for 64 Bit Cinnamon this is not enough, the installer would not allow you to continue. So you must assign at least 10 GB.
foersu wrote:I would take the option "fix size" for the harddisk (I do not know if my terms are correct, because I read an article in German and I am translating them "free hand").
I recommend to use the default setting "dynamically allocated" (in German dynamisch alloziert). BTW, I am also German. If you don't know the exact English word, you may insert the German phrase, the board team does accept this. But if you want to discuss this in German language, go to the German language board here, I will will see your thread there.
Back to topic: Dynamically allocated is theoretically a little bit slower, but you wouldn't see this in practice. It has 2 advantages: At first the used space on your physical hard drive is only as big as really needed, the virtual hard drives grows until the set limit has been reached. Second: It is possible to set the size of a dynamically allocated later on to a higher value (although not by the GUI, but via command line), for a fixed size this is not possible.

To your list of questions:

1. Yes. See in this context a VM as any application: It uses the RAM as long as it runs, if it gets quited, the RAM is free for other programs.

2. See my note above about dynamically allocated and fixed size. But in principle you are right. Again you can compare it with any other program: If you create e.g. an office document it occupies the needed space, regardless if it is opened or closed.

3. If the VM is running and the associated RAM is reserved for the VM, the host system behaves, as if only the remaining rest of the RAM would have been installed. This means, if you use at the same time a very RAM consuming application, it may be, that the system swaps, and tis takes time. But with 4 GB RAM and at most 2 GB for the VM you should normally not notice a slow down.

4. See above.

5. Yes. But you could - if you want - attach to a VM an additional virtual hard drive (or 2 or more) later on.

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Re: Recommendation for a virtual machine

Post by foersu » Thu Aug 20, 2015 7:32 am

Hi Cosmo,

thanx for the excellent answers.
It´s a nice surpise that you are German. I am originary from "México", however I live already several decades (4,5) in Germany, having adopted the nationality in the meantime... and live in Kaarst, close to Düsseldorf.
The expresion for the fix size of the HD is "feste Größe", I think it was clear to you as you read my lines.
Regards

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Re: Recommendation for a virtual machine

Post by foersu » Fri Aug 21, 2015 3:45 am

Today, I installed VB 4.3.30 (German).

Unfortunately, I did not find the option "users & groups" or similar.
Where do I have to look for this option?
Regards

Rem.: in order to add my user (?) to the group vboxusers.

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Re: Recommendation for a virtual machine

Post by Cosmo. » Fri Aug 21, 2015 4:33 am

In German: Menü Systemverwaltung -> Benutzer und Gruppen. Mark your account and you will wind on the right side near the bottom the list of the groups, you belong to. You can click it(note quite obviously it is a button) and add vboxusers.

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Re: Recommendation for a virtual machine

Post by foersu » Fri Aug 21, 2015 6:19 am

Hi Cosmo,

Wen I start VB, the " Oracle VM VirtualBox Manager" opens. There, the options Datei, Maschine, Help are contained. In none of them "Systemverwaltung" or "Benutzer und Gruppen" is contained.
Am I maybe in the wrong part of the application? Is there maybe another GUI responsible for the administration?

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Re: Recommendation for a virtual machine

Post by Cosmo. » Fri Aug 21, 2015 6:22 am

You are in the wrong part of the system. Users & Groups is part of Mint, so you have to open the Mint menu to find it.

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Re: Recommendation for a virtual machine

Post by foersu » Sun Aug 23, 2015 7:08 am

I installed VirtualBox 4.3.30 as well as the respective extension pack.
As a test, I installed a guest system (Linux Mint 17.2 64 bit, Cinnamon). I did it directly out of the previously downloaded ISO file. During the setup of the VM, the installation recommended 8 Gbyte for the HD. However, when installing the guest system (Mint), 9.5 Gbyte were required, so I had to had to setup the VM again.
Then, as expected, the guest Cinnamon desktop opened. After kicking the icon CD in the guest Cinammon desktop to install Mint, it took very long (about 40 minutes) until the dialogs for the installation of Mint appeared. The proper installation then occured normal.

Any comments? The above mentioned very long time just observing the activity cursor (the small twisting circle) appeared very strange to me :shock:

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Re: Recommendation for a virtual machine

Post by Cosmo. » Sun Aug 23, 2015 12:41 pm

foersu wrote:During the setup of the VM, the installation recommended 8 Gbyte for the HD. However, when installing the guest system (Mint), 9.5 Gbyte were required:
That is exactly what I told you in my longer post above.

Regarding the delay: I admit I have no idea. 40 minutes are really extreme. Anything on the host (background activity) what made this? Did you use a physical DVD as installation source or an ISO-file? Try it once again with another VM, if this is reproducible.

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Re: Recommendation for a virtual machine

Post by foersu » Sun Aug 23, 2015 1:07 pm

Yes, I have to admin, that I unfortunately overlooked your advise to setup the HD with 10 GByte.

Regarding the long delay: I am not aware, that any background activities would slow down the host. I interrupted the process three times, because I though the system would had hung up, but the fourth time I decided to be patiente. Then, after approx. 40 minutes or longer, not shorter, the first installation Mint dialog appeared and the further steps followed in an acceptable time.

I installed directly from the ISO file. Under "Ändern | Massenspeicher" I clicked on the small CD symbol and indicated the ISO file in the opened file selection dialog.

Maybe a background process slows down my system, but I have no glue which one this could be. Either I do not know how to monitor activity of ongoing processes, daemons...

There is one thing, I wonder a little bit about: when I start Mint, after login I takes about 35 seconds until the Cinnamon desktop appears. It seems to be a long time to me, my company notebook, working under windows 7 is faster :(

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