Ubuntu Karmic Koala 64, VirtualBox + Windows 7 64

I have an Intel Core i7, 8Gb DDR3 laptop which essentialy means I’ve 8 cores at my disposal. To take advantage of this and the ample memory available, like many servers these days, virtualisation is the way to go.

I do have a preference for running Linux on the desktop, which stems from familiarity and flexibility rather than a hate of Microsoft, but there are tools and reasons why Windows is the only way forward. As a middle ground, running Windows as a VM guest strikes a good balance.

VirtualBox is Oracle’s desktop virtualisation offering and is more akin to VMware Server 1.x but with modern hardware virtualisation support. Why. VBox over VMware Server 2.x? It’s far simpler to set up and run, and far simpler to install under Ubuntu. Ubuntu’s repos are populated with VirtualBox OSE, which stands for Open Source Edition.

To install do the following:

apt-get install virtualbox-ose

At the time of writing the OSE version in Karmic Stable is 3.0.8, whereas the latest version is 3.1.4.  I mention this because I ran into the following problems with running Windows 7 64-Bit and VirtualBox-OSE 3.0.8 64-Bit:

  • Intermittent slowness in the guest
  • Locking up of the Guest + VirtualBox

To alleviate these problems I did the following

  • Installed the RealTime (RT) kernel in Ubuntu Karmic
    apt-get install install linux-image-rt linux-headers-rt
  • Reduced the number of vCPUs from 4, to 2, to 1

This did seem to fix the issue of locking up, and gave me a Windows 7 desktop, but I had 8 cores to play with – going to 1vCPU just caused me problems running applications within the guest that needed a little more processing power that I had available.

I’ve now resorted to installing the version found at http://www.sun.com/software/products/virtualbox/get.jsp. This is 3.1.4 r57640 at the time of this posting.

As I already had Windows 7 up and running under OSE 3.0.8 I did the following

apt-get remove virtual-box-ose

(Which removes certain libqt4 dependencies – but I’ll show the complete steps to install Virtual Box 3.1.4 from sun.com below:

apt-get install libqt4-network libqt4-opengl libqtcore4 libqtgui4
dpkg -i /tmp/virtualbox-3.1_3.1.4-57640_Ubuntu_karmic_amd64.deb

This will ask you to compile new updated kernel modules, so answer yes to the question of doing so.
It also says you must add your user to the vboxusers group so do this:

sudo usermod -G vboxusers -a username

Log back out and back in again to activate your user in the vboxusers group.

Fire up Windows 7 and things appear more stable.  Currently running 2vCPU with 4Gb Ram.  If you had Windows 7 previously running under an older version of VirtualBox then don’t forget to update Guest Additions to that of the running VirtualBox version.

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