VBoxHeadless - Running Virtual Machines With VirtualBox 4.1 On A Headless Fedora 17 Server

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Submitted by falko (Contact Author) (Forums) on Sun, 2012-08-12 19:51. :: Fedora | VirtualBox | Virtualization

VBoxHeadless - Running Virtual Machines With VirtualBox 4.1 On A Headless Fedora 17 Server

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Author: Falko Timme <ft [at] falkotimme [dot] com>
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Last edited 07/02/2012

This guide explains how you can run virtual machines with VirtualBox 4.1 on a headless Fedora 17 server. Normally you use the VirtualBox GUI to manage your virtual machines, but a server does not have a desktop environment. Fortunately, VirtualBox comes with a tool called VBoxHeadless that allows you to connect to the virtual machines over a remote desktop connection, so there's no need for the VirtualBox GUI.

I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!

 

1 Preliminary Note

I have tested this on a Fedora 17 server (host system) with the IP address 192.168.0.100 where I'm logged in as a normal user (user name admin in this example) instead of as root.

If you only have a root account, but no normal user account, create one as follows (user admin, group admin)...

# groupadd admin
# useradd -d /home/admin -m -g admin -s /bin/bash admin

... create a password for the new user...

# passwd admin

... and log in as that user.

 

2 Installing VirtualBox

To install VirtualBox 4.1 on our Fedora 17 server, we need root privileges, therefore we run

$ su

Then we install the dependencies for VirtualBox 4.1 as follows:

# yum groupinstall 'Development Tools'

# yum groupinstall 'Development Libraries'

# yum install SDL kernel-devel kernel-headers dkms

Next download and register the VirtualBox public rpm key:

# wget -q http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/debian/oracle_vbox.asc
# rpm --import oracle_vbox.asc
# rm -f oracle_vbox.asc

Now we enable the VirtualBox Fedora repository on our system:

# cd /etc/yum.repos.d/
# wget http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/rpm/fedora/virtualbox.repo

We can now simply install VirtualBox 4.1 as follows:

# yum install VirtualBox-4.1

Starting with version 4.0, VirtualBox has introduced so called "extension packs" and has outsourced some functionality like remote desktop connection support (VRDP) that was part of VirtualBox packages before version 4.0 into these extension packs. Because we need remote desktop connections to control our virtual machines, we need to install the appropriate extension pack now. Go to http://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads, and you will find a link to the following extension pack:

VirtualBox 4.1.18 Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack
Support for USB 2.0 devices, VirtualBox RDP and PXE boot for Intel cards.

Download and install the extension pack as follows:

# cd /tmp
# wget http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/4.1.18/Oracle_VM_VirtualBox_Extension_Pack-4.1.18-78361.vbox-extpack
# VBoxManage extpack install Oracle_VM_VirtualBox_Extension_Pack-4.1.18-78361.vbox-extpack

(Make sure you grab the latest version from the VirtualBox web site.)

Now we must add the user that will run VirtualBox (admin in this example) to the vboxusers group:

# /usr/sbin/usermod -G vboxusers admin

VirtualBox is now installed and ready to be used.

Type

# exit

to leave the root account and become a normal user (admin) again.

 

3 Using VirtualBox On The Command Line

3.1 Creating A VM

To create a VM on the command line, we can use the VBoxManage command. See

$ VBoxManage --help

for a list of available switches and (highly recommended!) take a look at http://www.virtualbox.org/manual/ch08.html.

Before we create a virtual machine, we need to find out how the primary network device is named on Fedora:

$ ifconfig

[admin@server1 ~]$ ifconfig
lo: flags=73<UP,LOOPBACK,RUNNING>  mtu 16436
        inet 127.0.0.1  netmask 255.0.0.0
        inet6 ::1  prefixlen 128  scopeid 0x10<host>
        loop  txqueuelen 0  (Local Loopback)
        RX packets 0  bytes 0 (0.0 B)
        RX errors 0  dropped 0  overruns 0  frame 0
        TX packets 0  bytes 0 (0.0 B)
        TX errors 0  dropped 0 overruns 0  carrier 0  collisions 0

p3p1: flags=4163<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,MULTICAST>  mtu 1500
        inet 192.168.0.100  netmask 255.255.255.0  broadcast 192.168.0.255
        inet6 fe80::20c:29ff:fe58:4256  prefixlen 64  scopeid 0x20<link>
        ether 00:0c:29:58:42:56  txqueuelen 1000  (Ethernet)
        RX packets 1133921  bytes 963213128 (918.5 MiB)
        RX errors 0  dropped 6  overruns 0  frame 0
        TX packets 478361  bytes 28634802 (27.3 MiB)
        TX errors 0  dropped 0 overruns 0  carrier 0  collisions 0

[admin@server1 ~]$

As you see, it's named p3p1 in this case - please keep this in mind.

I will now create an Ubuntu 12.04 Server VM with 1024MB memory and a 10GB hard drive from the Ubuntu 12.04 Server iso image (which I have stored in /home/ubuntu-12.04-server-amd64.iso):

$ VBoxManage createvm --name "Ubuntu 12.04 Server" --register

In the next command we must specify the correct network interface (p3p1 in my case):

$ VBoxManage modifyvm "Ubuntu 12.04 Server" --memory 1024 --acpi on --boot1 dvd --nic1 bridged --bridgeadapter1 p3p1

$ VBoxManage createhd --filename Ubuntu_12_04_Server.vdi --size 10000
$ VBoxManage storagectl "Ubuntu 12.04 Server" --name "IDE Controller" --add ide
$ VBoxManage storageattach "Ubuntu 12.04 Server" --storagectl "IDE Controller" --port 0 --device 0 --type hdd --medium Ubuntu_12_04_Server.vdi
$ VBoxManage storageattach "Ubuntu 12.04 Server" --storagectl "IDE Controller" --port 1 --device 0 --type dvddrive --medium /home/ubuntu-12.04-server-amd64.iso

 

3.2 Importing An Existing VM

Let's assume you have a VM called examplevm that you want to reuse on this host. On the old host, you should have a directory Machines/examplevm in the VirtualBox directory; Machines/examplevm should contain the examplevm.xml file. Copy the examplevm directory (including the examplevm.xml file) to your new Machines directory (if your user name is admin, this is /home/admin/.VirtualBox/Machines - the result should be /home/admin/.VirtualBox/Machines/examplevm/examplevm.xml).

In addition to that copy the examplevm.vdi file from the old VDI directory to the new one (e.g. /home/admin/.VirtualBox/VDI/examplevm.vdi).

Afterwards, you must register the imported VM:

$ VBoxManage registervm Machines/examplevm/examplevm.xml

 

3.3 Starting A VM With VBoxHeadless

Regardless of if you create a new VM or import an old one, you can start it with the command:

$ VBoxHeadless --startvm "Ubuntu 12.04 Server"

(Replace Ubuntu 12.04 Server with the name of your VM.)

VBoxHeadless will start the VM and a VRDP (VirtualBox Remote Desktop Protocol) server which allows you to see the VM's output remotely on another machine.

To stop a VM, run

$ VBoxManage controlvm "Ubuntu 12.04 Server" poweroff

To pause a VM, run

$ VBoxManage controlvm "Ubuntu 12.04 Server" pause

To reset a VM, run

$ VBoxManage controlvm "Ubuntu 12.04 Server" reset

To learn more about VBoxHeadless, take a look at

$ VBoxHeadless --help

and at http://www.virtualbox.org/manual/ch07.html#vboxheadless.


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