Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mint as a new VM?

UPDATE: after going through all of this, the OS locked up on me. I had to hard-stop it and then could notrestart - VirtualBox couldn't find the boot disk. So I'm going back to Ubuntu. I don't know why this happened, but I don't have time to explore it either...

I've gotten in the habit of created Ubuntu virtual machines on my laptop for various projects. I have a new one starting up and decided to create a new VM for that. I was going to install Ubuntu, but I recently heard about the Mint OS. Kind of an Ubuntu clone with a different desktop - Cinnamon instead of Unity. Since Unity isn't my favorite part of Ubuntu, I thought I'd give mint a try. So here's the blow-by-blow.

I have a Dell XPS I7 quad-core with 16Gb RAM and 2x750GB HDDs. The hardware is a beast. It's running Win7. I use Oracle VirtualBox to create the VMs.

I downloaded the 64 bit ISO of the Cinnamon version of mint from

I already have VirtualBox installed, so I started out by creating a new VM in VirtualBox. I specified a 64bit Ubuntu system with 10gb RAM and an 80GB hard drive. In settings I put the following:

  1. General->Advanced: Bidirectional Shared Clipboard and Bidirectional Drag'n'Drop
  2. System->Processor: 4 CPUs, 100% execution cap, Enable PAE/NX
  3. Display->Video: Max Video memory (128 MB), 1 monitor, Enable 3D Acceleration (more on monitors below).
  4. Network->Advanced->Port Forwarding: I add in some forwarding depending on what I'm doing so that I can run a browser on the Win7 host OS and access a web server on the Guest VM. But that can't be done until we know the IP address of the Guest. See image below.
  5. Shared Folders: I create two -- one for a directory on the Win7 HDD through which I can share files and another to the Dropbox directory on the Win7 HDD. I could install Dropbox on the VM OS, but why have those files duplicated on the host and the guest. I make these shared folders Automount and *not* readonly. See image below

Now, I'm ready to install the OS into the VM, which is easy the first time I click "Start" in the VM. I have to say, if I screw that part up, I haven't looked into how to install on a second start :-) - I just point at my downloaded ISO and go...

Unlike Ubuntu, there are no questions or anything. So I'm guessing I need to customize it after the install. First things first, reset the root password:  sudo passwd root -- That makes all the installs easier.

And I set up the mounts to Dropbox and the shared folder:

sudo mkdir /home/Dropbox
sudo chmod 777 /home/Dropbox
sudo mount -t vboxsf Dropbox /home/Dropbox
sudo mkdir /home/Sharing
sudo chmod 777 /home/Sharing
sudo mount -t vboxsf Sharing /home/Sharing

And created a shell script I can run when starting up to make those mounts (I can never remember the mount command).

More on the various tools and apps I installed later...