Converting Virtualbox VM to VMWare

I am running the latest version of Virtualbox on my Windows 8.1 desktop and I’ve noticed my network has been unavailable after the machine resumed from sleep mode.  I found several people that claim the problem is with Virtualbox so I decided to switch to VMWare Player and see if that solved the problem.  The VM I chose to use for the testing is an ArchLinux install.  My Virtualbox VMs are located in the folder V:Virtualbox and my VMWare VMs are located in the folder V:VMWare.

Before I did anything, I copied the entire ArchLinux folder that contains the test VM in case something went wrong during the conversion — backups are always a good idea!  🙂

The first thing to do was to convert the Virtualbox VDI hard drives to VMWare’s VMDK format.  Virtualbox has a utility that will convert the drive.  I opened a Command Prompt and ran the following commands:

v:
cd VirtualboxArchLinux
"c:Program FilesOracleVirtualboxVBoxManage.exe" clonehd --format VMDK archlinux.vdi archlinux.vmdk
md VMWareArchLinux
move archlinux.vmdk VMWareArchLinux

I then created a new VMWare VM stored in V:VMWareArchLinux and attached the newly-cloned archlinux.vmdk as the drive.  After booting the new VM, I performed the following commands in ArchLinux:

rmmod vboxguest vboxsf vboxvideo
sudo pacman -R virtualbox-guest-modules virtualbox-guest-utils
     (also comment out "/usr/bin/VBoxClient-all" in .xinitrc if necessary)
sudo pacman -S open-vm-tools open-vm-tools-modules
     (add KillSignal=SIGKILL to /usr/lib/systemd/system/vmtoolsd.service to fix a hang during service stop)
cat /proc/version > /etc/arch-release
systemctl start vmtoolsd
systemctl enable vmtoolsd

After performing these steps, ArchLinux is running normally in VMWare Player 5.

Oh, and uninstalling Virtualbox fixed my network problem after resuming from sleep.  🙂

Update: I’m still having a couple of issues with this VM after conversion.  VMWare continually prompts me to install the vmtools (guess it doesn’t recognize the open-vm-tools package) and perhaps as a result the vmtools do not appear to be functioning properly.  The screen is not resized correctly on boot and I am not sure the shared files function is working.  So I still have work to do.  🙂

Problems booting Linux on HP G7 laptops

There is a major problem running Linux on HP laptops; during the boot process, the screen will go black and never display anything. This issue is due to the LCD backlighting.

You can fix the issue by appending the text

acpi_osi=Linux acpi_backlight=vendor

to the linux boot line. You can do this manually in the Grub menu by editing the commands before booting; you highlight the boot entry and press either the “e” key or the “tab” key, depending on the version of Grub you are running.

Reinstalling Grub

When Microsoft Windows is reinstalled on a multiboot computer, it will overwrite the MBR wiping out the existing Grub install. To reinstall Grub do the following:

  1. Boot to the most recent ArchLinux install CD and select the correct architecture (on dual ISOs).
  2. Mount your existing ArchLinux install on /mnt: mount /dev/sda# /mnt
  3. If necessary, mount your boot partition: mount /dev/sda# /mnt/boot
  4. Reinstall grub: grub-install –root-directory=/mnt /dev/sda

Older instructions

To install the grub bootloader from a LiveCD:

  • Mount the root filesystem
    • mkdir /mnt/root
    • mount -t ext2 /dev/?da? /mnt/root
  • Populate the dev and proc filesystems
    • mount -o bind /dev /mnt/root/dev
    • mount -t proc none /mnt/root/proc
  • Change to the mounted root filesystem
    • chroot /mnt/root
  • Install grub in MBR
    • grub
    • find /boot/grub/stage1
    • root (hd0,0) # Use the info from the above find command
    • setup (hd0) # Use the info from the above find command
    • quit
  • Reboot!

Linux Mint

I like variety so I thought I’d try a new distro. I decided to try Linux Mint.

  • The pulsating boot screen – looks like the new Windows 7 boot.
  • Slate window decorations with a green background. Nice!
  • Language packs – hope they have Klingon! 🙂
  • Changing resolutions – it defaults to 800×600. Installing the Virtualbox Additions fixed it, even allowing it to resize at fullscreen.
  • The menu – this is the first version of the “new-and-improved” menu (Slab) that I actually like.
  • Terminal – the new “fortune” is cute but takes too much screen space. I swapped “/usr/games/fortune” for the mint-fortune.
  • Updates – out of the box (so to speak) there were 95 updates. Installation was painless and didn’t require a reboot (come on MS, that can’t be that difficult!) Everything even worked after a reboot. 🙂

So far, I’m liking it!

Xorg in ArchLinux guest

I’ve been trying for weeks to get my mouse detected in Xorg. It turned out to be something pretty simple.

Install “hal” and add it to the DAEMONS list in /etc/rc.conf configuration.

Update: well, it worked for a time. A system update broke it again and I can’t figure out what broke.

KDE 4.2: First thoughts

I finally got KDE 4.2 installed today in ArchLinux, and I still have to say that I am underwhelmed. They’ve changed the default taskbar and titlebar colors to Yet-Another-Blue theme (I actually like the black theme in 4.1) and you still cannot have a background image that spans both monitors in a multi-monitor setup. At least, I couldn’t find any way to do it.

While I was able to change the colors, I was unable to change the window decorations. Regardless of what I chose, it stayed with the default.

And yes, I was sure to delete my .kde* directories before running it. 🙂

So I’m sticking with Gnome. It’s funny how life is; back in the days of KDE 3.5, I couldn’t stand Gnome. Now, it just works better for me than KDE 4.2.

The joys of ArchLinux

I recently switched to using Arch Linux full-time; Vista was running a bit too slow on my machine and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed Linux. I can run Rhapsody in Virtualbox (along with VS.Net and Access as needed) but perform my daily tasks in Linux.

I’ve switch to Metacity over Compiz; it seems to run better, even with compositing on. Interestingly, UT2004 runs well on Linux, even with compositing on — I can’t get it to run on Vista without hesitation and artifacts (probably driver issue, but I’m running the most up-to-date driver).

Fun with ArchLinux, part 2

After trying to get KDE4 to work for me, I got tired of messing with it and decided to look at different window managers. Then I did something I swore I wouldn’t do — I started using Gnome. I’ve never liked the look of GTK apps (especially the dialogs), but I was pleasantly surprised this time. Gnome runs much better than KDE4 on my machine and it looks great, especially when I started running Compiz-Fusion. 🙂

I decided to use Yaourt instead of pacman to automate installs from AUR. However, I could never remember how to spell “yaourt” so I created an alias for it called…wait for it…mspacman! *laughs!*

My search for a decent media manager continued next (how I wish Media Monkey would be ported to linux!) and I found Songbird. It’s not perfect, but so far it works the best for me (after I installed the gstreamer-0.10-ugly + plugins package). I have yet to find a theme that looks nice, but that doesn’t matter to me much anymore — it’s just got to work well! 🙂

I’ve also been giving Banshee a try, but I’ve yet to find a Linux program that works as well as MediaMonkey.

Update: I got MediaMonkey working in Linux using WINE:

UPDATE 11/27/08: Now why didn’t I think about Rhythmbox? I installed it today and it does nearly everything I’m looking for, including playing internet streams (both MP3 and WM) and it handles podcasts. Woot!

Virtualbox in Linux, MLB.TV

I’ve installed WinXP on Virtualbox (PUEL) version in ArchLinux and it runs so much better than XP on VirtualPC in Vista. I don’t know if that is due to extra overhead of Vista or if Virtualbox is just that much faster. I don’t see much improvement if XP is installed on Virtualbox in Vista, so I suspect that Virtualbox in Linux is just faster on the same hardware.

The really great thing is that I am able to capture USB devices and use them inside Virtualbox. So I was able to install Rhapsody in my Virtualbox/ArchLinux application and get it to work with my Sansa. So that is a great thing; Rhapsody and my Sansa is one of the biggest reasons I need to be in Windows, and if it works virtualized on Linux, so much the better!

Another piece of good news; MLB.TV also works in ArchLinux, at least for the archived games. I do not know whether live games will work as well. Of course, that isn’t that big of a deal (other than the coolness factor) because I have a second computer running WindowsXP that is attached to my widescreen television, so I’ll watch live games that way.

Man, I’m already ready for next baseball season! 🙂

Fun with ArchLinux and KDE4.1

I was able to finally fix my ArchLinux install in Virtualbox on Vista two days ago. I had to use a backup copy, since an update installed KDE 4.1 (removing the perfectly functioning 3.5 install) and that made KDE unusably slow. I checked to make sure that compositing was turned off; it just does not work on my machine (P4 2.4G single core w/ 3GB RAM) in Virtualbox.

I recently had to replace a hard drive, so I got a larger drive. This freed up a 160G hard drive, so I decided to convert that drive to a full ArchLinux install to see how KDE 4 works on it. Man, have I missed Linux!

The ArchLinux install went well, except I forgot to remove the exclamation point from the ROUTES field for the gateway — networking doesn’t work that well if there is no gateway. 🙂

I should mention that I didn’t use the most recent install ISO. But the beautiful thing about ArchLinux is that it is a rolling-release distro; I’m now at the most recent versions of all software by simply using the update program (brilliantly called pacman). 🙂

I was able to get both ALSA (sound) and Xorg running using the latest Nvidia drivers (with TwinView enabled for my dual monitors) quite easily.

Mounting my NTFS drives is not as simple as I would hope. I’ve added the necessary entries into /etc/fstab and I can mount them read-only (don’t want to risk data corruption) from the command line with no problem. But Dolphin can not mount the drives. I may be on the way to resolving this problem, but it’s working well enough for now.

Adding access to my HP Photosmart printer was extremely painful; in fact, I still don’t have it working. It was very easy in KDE3; I was able to use the printer control panel to add and administer the printer. No such control panel exists in KDE4 (as near as I can tell) and trying to add the printer manually using hplip has not worked completely yet. I can add the printer but it never appears to be getting any of the print jobs.

Now, my views on KDE 4. I still think it was released too soon; I’ve run into a few issues, mostly minor but still quite annoying:

Configuring panels is painful
I want a panel on my second monitor with a task manager showing the windows on that monitor (like I can do with Ultramon on Windows). The panel starts at the top of the screen (which is actually where I prefer it) but the primary monitor’s panel is at the bottom. The only way to change the location is to manually update the file ~/.kde4/share/config/plasma-appletsrc — look for the text “plugin=panel” and see the “location=” field. This number controls where the panels are located: 3=top 4=bottom. It’s best to make these changes in the CLI when KDE is not running.

Dual monitor workspace separation
I’m running a dual-monitor setup, and the new Plasma system treats each monitor screen as a separate screen — it is not possible to have a single image spread across both monitors. I have to create two separate 1280×1024 images instead of using a single 2560×1240 image. Needless to say, I won’t be changing images that often.

Missing features of KDE3
Not all of the features from KDE3 have been added into KDE4. I do not know whether this is due to a design plan or it simply hasn’t been done yet, but it is very annoying to a happy KDE3 user.

Final thoughts
I don’t know if I’ll be able to use Linux fulltime, as I may not be able to replace all of the Windows software I’m using. I’m setting up a second machine (more in a later blog entry) that I can dedicate to linux and see how will it works. That will allow me to have fun with Linux and still use Vista for my daily work.