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Figured I'd start a thread for this. I have 4 laptops, all with sturdy hardware and 8GB RAM, all are running a licensed copy of Win 7 dual booted vith ...
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  1. #1
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    Windows in Virtualbox


    Figured I'd start a thread for this.

    I have 4 laptops, all with sturdy hardware and 8GB RAM, all are running a licensed copy of Win 7 dual booted vith various Linux distros. At some point I'd like to get away from dual boot and be able to run Windows under VB - but only if it operates like the "bare metal" Windows install and only if I don't get trapped by MS and their activation crap.

    What I've done so far:

    On my Core I-7 with nVidia, I shrunk the Windows partition down to 80GB and uninstalled everything that wasn't necessary. I basically trimmed it down to Windows and a few applications I want to run under Windows: parts of MS Office 2003, Winamp, Chrome & Firefox, and a few utilities. This gave me an 80 GB partition with about 20 GB used.

    I ran the VMWare converter on this one and it created a virtual drive (a VMDK if I remember right) that ended up being about 15GB in size. I popped a fresh drive into the computer that had Lubuntu 14.04 64 bit and I installed the latest Virtualbox from the repos. I copied the VMDK I built into a directory and then setup the virtual machine based on a composite of guides I found on Google.

    I got it to run but there were 2 main issues: no USB support and I could not get full screen output. This box has 1920x1080 resolution and while Lubuntu drives it perfectly, the best I could get under VB was I think 1600x900 which made the screen to small to be useful to my tired eyes. As far as USB, I did read I need to install some VB extension pack and do some further tweaking. When I couldn't solve the screen resolution issue, I gave up on this attempt for the time being.

    Is it possible to get a licensed copy of Windows running well in VB that operates just like a bare metal install?

  2. #2
    Linux User Steven_G's Avatar
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    Yes. And you've actually already gotten further than most do. You only have a couple of steps left.

    Question: Where did you get VB from? From the UB repos or straight from VB? If you got it from the repos then purge that puppy from your system, clean it out completely, config files and all. The version in the repos is fried, twitchy and out of date.

    Then get VB from VB.

    Without the extensions everything will not work correctly. They have to be installed on both the "real" box and inside the VM. The part that gets installed to the real box can be found here (Extension Pack, same page as before, little further down). Once it is installed the first time it will update itself when the over all program updates itself. (But you'll have to run the extension update manually inside the VM every time.)

    Now you have to install the extensions inside the VM as well: Devices (in the VM menu) / Insert guest additons CD. On a default doze config you'll get a pop up asking if you want to run it. Follow the prompts, install then reboot the VM. (And don't install the experimental video driver, it's borked. The default works fine.) If you have autoplay turned off it will be mounted in explorer. Depending on the sec of your setup you may be prompted for your admin password or have to manually run it as administrator from explorer.

    Also, on the real box make sure that you are in the group vboxusers. Some times you have to create that group and then add yourself.

    To get USB stuff working you'll ned to plug in the device then open the main VB interface, click the machine, don't start it, settings (at top), then USB, on the right hand side there will be several buttons, the top one adds a new "USB filter". With the device plugged in clicking that will populate a list, select the device and add the filter. This only has to be done once. After that just plugging in the device and booting the VM should capture it. If not then go to devices inside the VM menu once the VM is started and make sure the device is selected.

    If it's not still working right after that then let me know.

  3. #3
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    I probably have 30+ USB drives I use, hard drives as well as USB sticks, my phone and MP3 player - I have to setup a filter for each of them?

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  5. #4
    Linux User Steven_G's Avatar
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    Yes. But only once for each device. It's like installing anything for the first time, you have to go through all the config crap.

  6. #5
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    As of this second, dual booting looks to be a better option.

    Other than "security", what if anything, is the real advantage to virtual Windows?

  7. #6
    Linux User Steven_G's Avatar
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    Convenience, you don't have to go through all the trouble of rebooting. And with your system system specs you can run the VM and still do stuff on your real box. Like the big maps updates on my GPS can some times take an hour or two run and the process is a resource hog. I have a system like yours. I can pull those updates in the VM, collapse it to the taskbar and get back to doing whatever I want. Etc.

    I'm huge on system sec. It's always my first focus when I set up anything. And since the network calls are basically all "proxied" through *nix, with a little work you can have a nice little AV proxy always between doze and the world. And since *nix is handeling all the handshakes if you're using public wifi it's a lot less likely that you'll pick up a worm in doze. Etc.

    Much easier recovery. Keep a back up copy of the VM and when it gets corrupted it takes 3 or 4 clicks to completely repair the problem.

    Easier access to data. I can set up shared folders and have access to all my data in both doze and *nix at the same time. That actually comes in really handy at times b/c they are both good at different things in different ways. Example: My wife had a bunch of old music I recovered for her and it was all DRM and wouldn't run on the cheapo player I got her and the player didn't want to play nice with *nix on mounting and transfering. So with a couple of clicks and no reboots I was able to strip the DRM on the nix side then mount the player on the doze side and load it up.

    Frees up disk space that I can use for other stuff I'd rather have a local copy of.

    The more I play with it the more uses I find for it.

    But I don't understand the reluctance. You've already done all the heavy lifiting, you have maybe an hour or so of basic config work to do and you'll be ready to rock.

  8. #7
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    No reluctance, just don't see a real value for me yet. When I couldn't get real full screen to work I was rather soured about investing any more time in this. I am not a security freak, I keep both types of systems backed up, Linux can access my Windows files as is, and I don't need to access Linux files in Windows. All of my machines have large Windows partitions and I store all my data there - I keep almost no data on the Linux side, just the OS really...

  9. #8
    Linux User Steven_G's Avatar
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    If you follow the steps I gave you above there's no reason at all that full screen shouldn't work. And you can even play very light games on it (solitaire, etc); just not the "heavy" games like an FPS or something. And that's only b/c of the VMs limited access to the video card. And they're even working on that. That's what the experimental video driver is for.

    Plus, depending on what you want to play with and do they're constantly adding new tools to it. In the last couple of months they added video capture.

    My next huge project will be to set up a cluster for a virtual lab. The underlying stratus will be distributed *nix and I'll fill the cluster with a mix of all kinds of VMs and emulate a full blown mixed corp net. Then I can sit here and "cross polinate" any way I please: Admin *nix with doze or the other way around, set up shares, run pen testing against it, etc, etc.

    It's basically a handy little tool that you can build all kinds of stuff out of.

    -----------

    Edit: I have no idea what your goals for* nix are. But if you think you're ready to take the plunge and convert over to being mostly *nix and only dozing when you have to this is a good next step. Do some work, pull all your data over to the dark side, set up a tricked out nix install and have the VM to fall back on. It's part of the natural conversion process that most people follow if they end up becoming a convert.
    Last edited by Steven_G; 07-31-2014 at 06:36 PM.

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