VirtualBox Migration Issues

Recently I have been interested in possibly converting my existing VPC and VMware images to VirtualBox. I have one image running under VPC and several images running under VMware server and ESXi. Although VMware has been an adequate platform the idea of running VirtualBox under Ubuntu server is appealing.

My first test was to try and convert my VPC image. It did not go well. I kept got a blue screen of death and wasted a lot of time. After soon research I realized that I did not setup the image correctly for migration.  Someday when I have a lot more time, I will try again .

My second test was to convert a mail server image that sends out our newsletter. This mail server has a history of being pretty compute intensive since we use DKIM to sign every email. From previous experiments I determined that I could shorten the run time by setting up the mail server as a multi-processor image. The host was on an old dual processor with 4 GB of RAM and under VMware Server  2.0 I could take advantage of both processors. However when I converted the image to run under VirtualBox I could take advantage of only one CPU. Alas the processors do not support VT-x so VirtualBox restricts you to one processor. I ran one newsletter through the VirtualBox version and it took about twice as long. Oh well! Back to the drawing board.

Bill’s Grand Adventure

I finally got motivated to resuscitate my Ghettobox2006. It took me a little debugging but I finally got it to recognize my SATA drive. My plan was to use this box as a general purpose Linux box running several VMware guests. The problem was that I could not get the box to boot. This was a strange problem. I had the motherboard working in another case with an IDE drive and a SATA. I moved the motherboard and the SATA drive to a new case and it would not boot. The SATA drive was not recognized by the BIOS and the drive acted like it was not getting power. I wasted a fair amount of time trying to figure out the source of the problem but eventually had to go work on higher priority tasks.

Last weekend I got an idea on how to fix the problem and went back to working on the box. My idea did not work but I did find the problem. The BIOS had the SATA controller turned off. How did that happen? Well, it boots now!

So I was off to the races. Awhile back I decided to use Centos for the host and I had already downloaded a version 5 DVD. I did not have a big reason for selecting Centos besides that I am slightly more familiar with Centos/Fedora/Redhat than I am with Ubuntu and Suse. My installation was a little unusual since I had three partitions on the disk I wanted to keep, a W2K partition, a partition with several existing virtual machines, and an empty partition for a future operating system. I had about 60 GB of free disk space left for Centos. I chose to install the standard Centos Desktop.The installation went smoothly. I was pleased to find out that I could still boot to the W2K partition from GRUB if I wanted to. Dual booting Linux and Microsoft used to be so funky.

Along the way I found a solution for an interesting Java problem. After I finished installing the operation system, I cranked up the web browser and Firefox told me that I needed the Java plugin. Reluctantly I downloaded the plugin and installed it. The Java plugin installation is about as dorky as it comes. Been there…done that…you mean I have to do this again. This is one area that Windows really shines over Linux. Surprise…surprise the Java plugin did not work. To complicate the matter there was no error message either. I was a little annoyed so I tried to open the Java control panel. It did give me an error message. It could not find A quick search of the Internet found two potential solutions. I could either install a symbolic link to or install compat-libstdc++-33. I installed the compat library since it may fix other problems I do not know about yet. I just want the standard stuff to work without a lot of fiddling. Sometimes that can quite a challenge. Now when I validate the plugin at the Java site, it worked as expected.

I will talk about my adventures with VMware in another post. I still have some kinks with the networking to work out. I was pleased to find out that all of my virtual machines worked. Even the W2K virtual machine I created using VMconverter worked.

VMware Delivers Free VMware Server

VMware Delivers Free VMware Server

I have become a fan of VMware. I have used VirtualPC in the past but became interested in their products when they offered VMPlayer for free. When they offered free usage of the server product and encouraged the VMTN appliance community, I switched.

My use has generally been in two areas:

  1. Testing new slipstreamed installations of Win XP.
  2. Playing with pre-built appliances.

The first appliance I started playing with was Asterisk at Home or now know as Trixbox. I have downloaded several versions over the last couple of months using BitTorrent. There is a bit of learning curve for this product and I did not want to waste time setting up a test box. There is a market for supporing this product but I do not have a customer right now.

The second appliance I have started playing with is a couple of Nagios/Groundworks variants. Nagios is an open source network monitoring program and Groundwork Open Source is a free version of a commercial variant of Nagios. Due to some recent discussions I had with my son in which he maintained that our internet access sucked, I decided to investigate the matter further. I originally downloaded a prebuilt Groundwork Open Source system by Tony Su of Su Network Consulting. The good news is that he had built it. The bad news is that he released it as a virtual disk drive rather than a virtual appliance. As a result it was a little harder to set up than Trixbox. To compound the problems the network adapter needed to configured before it would do anything. Trixbox configured the network adapter during startup so this was new territory for me since this was a SUSE box.

Along the way I found a posting about baywatchos. It was a Groundwork Open Source system built upon Centos which is the same operating system used by Trixbox. My familiarity with Centos and the fact that it had Webmin already installed were pluses for me. The author even provided a nice Getting Started document in English. After a brief configuration I had it working. Gianluca, you did a fine job!

My next project will be to move these virtual appliances to my ghetto box and see how well they run. This should be amusing. Groundwork has some pretty stiff hardware requirements.