Convert RAW partition to VDI image with VirtualBox on OS X

Posted by: gdelmatto  :  Category: OS X, VirtualBox

Some time ago, I set up a multi-boot environment on my Mac, where I could use my BootCamp-Partition for both booting Windows natively on the Mac as well as virtualized from within VirtualBox.

Now, I wanted to create a clone of the RAW partition to do some testing.
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Refining application shortcut for shared BootCamp / VirtualBox Windows VM

Posted by: admin  :  Category: OS X, VirtualBox, Virtualization

Here’s a follow-up to my previous posts on sharing Windows 7 in BootCamp and VirtualBox and launching a VirtualBox VM directly through an icon shortcut.

Concerning this topic I was asked if it’s possible to have the BootCamp partition only umounted upon startup of the Windows VM.
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Starting a VirtualBox VM through a Shortcut on OS X

Posted by: admin  :  Category: OS X, VirtualBox

Why should I dare to launch the VirtualBox GUI each and every time when I in fact only want to start a particular VM?
So my intent is to create an icon in the OS X dock which allows me to start my Windows VM directly with one single click.
Not to say that I’m a lazy person, but I dare to get around the GUI for such a simple and straight forward task 😉

Luckily VirtualBox provides us with everything needed to accomplish this through the “VBoxManage” command.
The rest is just some (not so really) magic OS X trickery, as you’ll find out shortly.
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Choppy VirtualBox Performance on MacBook Pro with Core i7

Posted by: admin  :  Category: OS X, VirtualBox

So you finally own one of these newly released Apple MacBook Pro with fancy Core i7 Quad-Core CPU?
Then you fire up your VirtualBox VM and are disappointed about the sloppy performance?

Luckily, it’s only a (hopefully short-lived) compatility issue. While this will surely need a final fix, here’s a temporary workaround…
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Sharing Windows 7 between Boot Camp and VirtualBox

Posted by: admin  :  Category: OS X, VirtualBox, Virtualization, Windows

I always used to have Windows installed through Boot Camp on my MacBook Pro. The reason for it being simple: I need it for some games 😉
On the other hand, I use OS X for my primary work, but again, sometimes there’s no way around Windows. So I had the same Windows installed again within VirtualBox.

Well, what a waste of valuable disk space. So, after I got my new MacBook Pro, equipped with an SSD, I decided to go for it and share the Boot Camp partition between Windows 7 running natively and VirtualBox.
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Use Sparse Files for FreeBSD jails?

Posted by: admin  :  Category: FreeBSD, jails, Operating Systems, Virtualization

Thinking about FreeBSD jails and an elder post of mine about putting jails within loopback-mounted disk images to enforce disk quota, I asked myself if I should use sparse files or pre-allocated files as virtual disk image for jail-based userland separation.
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Resurrecting Insignia SoftWindows95 for SGI IRIX

Posted by: admin  :  Category: Operating Systems, Virtualization

Well, well, I just feel like 14 years ago, playing around with my rather aged SGI O2, which I didnt touch for years, doing a fresh reinstall of IRIX and some apps.

While flipping through my CDs I stumbled accross SoftWindows95 for IRIX. I just couldn’t resist and put the flipper in, having the software installed just minutes later, only to see that I didn’t have the license any more 🙁

But there’s hope …
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Installing VMware Server 2.0 on Debian

Posted by: admin  :  Category: VMware

It’s been a while since this post was accidentally deleted due to some very bad circumstances.
I must admit, that there was no current backup for this post, so a restoration was not possible.

Basically this topic was just a follow-up to a previous post updated for VMware Server 2.0 on Debian.

In the meantime, VMware has released ESXi vor free as well, so using VMware Server maybe superseeded by choosing ESXi.

As a sidenode also consider the post at the Ubuntu forums. There’s a short howto and a script available, which eases installation procedures. Supposedly, this could be easily adapted for Debian, as both Distros share very common roots.

Xen console grabbded /dev/ttyS0

Posted by: admin  :  Category: Virtualization, Xen

This week I started on evaluating an iSCSI storage system which should get connected to a Xen-enabled host. An article covering this particular topic is in preparation.

Since the iSCSI device offered management capabilities over serial console I though to attach it to COM1 (/dev/ttyS0) of my host system.
This is well the point when I noticed that Xen had already grabbed /dev/ttyS0. Since my host system offered only one serial port and I didn’t have a spare serial server at hands I needed to change this behaviour to get it working.
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NVIDIA binary driver on Xen-enabled Linux x86_64

Posted by: admin  :  Category: Virtualization, Xen

It seems impossible at first to run the NVIDIA binary driver on Linux x86_64 when Xen is enabled.

That’s because NVIDIA does not support Xen in the first place albeit there’s some demand for it for sure.

Luckily the only things to be changed are within the kernel interface contained in the driver package. There exist already a lot of patches on the net, I took mine from nvnews.

You can grab a copy of the patch from my site, too.

The following instructions are derived from my steps in getting NVIDIAS’s binary driver to work on Fedora Core 6 running Xen on the x86_64 platform (Intel Core 2 Duo 6420 CPU).
It was verified to work with driver version 1.0.9755 (march 29, 2007) and 1.0-9639 (may 29, 2007), both of which you can get from the NVidia website.

First you need to have some prerequisites installed on your system:

  • toolchain (gcc, make, etc.)
  • applicable kernel headers (I had kernel 2.6.20-1.2948.fc6xen on my system, so I installed kernel-xen-devel-2.6.20-1.2948.fc6 and kernel-xen-2.6.20-1.2948.fc6 packages)

Then the appropriate driver packages needs to be downloaded and extracted to a temporary directory:

mkdir /tmp/nv_xen
cd /tmp/nv_xen
/bin/sh -x
Creating directory NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-1.0-9639-pkg2
Verifying archive integrity... OK
Uncompressing NVIDIA Accelerated Graphics Driver for Linux-x86_64 1.0-9639.

Also get a copy of the NVidia Patch for XEN:


Then change to the source directory, apply the patch and compile the driver.
The kernel source is required. If installed properly it should be located at /usr/src/kernels. If more than one exists choose the right one according to your ‘uname -r’ output.

cd NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-1.0-9639-pkg2/usr/src/nv
zcat ../../../../nvidia_xenpatch.gz | patch -p4
[output omitted]
make SYSSRC=/usr/src/kernels/2.6.20-1.2948.fc6xen-x86_64/ module
[output omitted]

If the compile run succeeds you should see the message NVIDIA: left KBUILD by the end of the output.
If anything weird happens, e.g. build process aborts, either the patch did not apply cleanly, the headers are not up to date or your sources are not configured.
In the last case a simple ‘make oldconfig’ from the kernel source directory may be enough to get it fixed.
There’s also the chance that you try this patch on a non-supported kernel source version or NVIDIA driver package which may prevent successful compilations.
Since I did not implement the patch by myself I cannot be of much help in either case.

Upon successful compilation you can install and load the driver. Verify that the driver loaded by means of ‘lsmod’.

install -D -o root -g root -m 0644 nvidia.ko /lib/modules/`uname -r`/video/nvidia.ko
depmod -a
modprobe nvidia
lsmod|grep nvidia
nvidia               7771096  22

At this point run the NVIDIA installer to get the remaining utilities.
Use the ‘no-kernel-module’ option as you installed the kernel module already.

cd ../../../
/bin/sh nvidia-installer --no-kernel-module

This is it! You are now ready to configure your X server to use the NVIDIA driver.
Stick to the docs included with the driver on how to achieve this.

This is my Xorg sample configuration with twin-view enabled accross two displays at 1280×1024 resolution.

# sample Xorg configuration file for NVIDIA graphics driver

Section "ServerLayout"
	Identifier	"Default Layout"
	Screen		0  "Screen0" 0 0
	InputDevice	"Keyboard0" "CoreKeyboard"

Section "Module"
	Load	"dbe"
	Load	"extmod"
	Load	"record"
	Load	"xtrap"
	Load	"freetype"
	Load	"type1"
	Load	"glx"

Section "InputDevice"
	Identifier	"Keyboard0"
	Driver		"kbd"
	Option		"XkbModel" "pc105"
	Option		"XkbLayout" "ch"
	Option		"XkbVariant" "de_nodeadkeys"

Section "Device"
	Identifier	"Videocard0"
	Driver		"nvidia"
	Option		"TwinView" "1"
	Option		"CursorShadow" "1"
	Option		"TwinViewOrientation" "RightOf"
	Option		"MetaModes" "1280x1024,1280x1024"

Section "Screen"
	Identifier	"Screen0"
	Device		"Videocard0"
	DefaultDepth	24
	SubSection "Display"
		Depth	24
		Modes	"1280x1024"