Thursday, November 10, 2011

Eureka moment

I'm sat here this evening checking out my install of Lubuntu 11.10 in Virtual Box. For those not familiar with this software Virtual Box allows the running of virtual PC's within the host operating system.

On the home desktop PC this is useful as it enables the user to test other operating systems within there current operating system, without the risk of damaging their current install, which can be a risk when attempting a dual boot system where you install a second or multiple operating systems on the hardware either on the same hard drive or another bootable drive within the PC. This has a number of dangers as it involves re partitioning the drive and if this is a working system this runs the risk of data loss if things go wrong.

While you can use Virtual Box to install any number of virtual PC's it will only emulate the hardware of the host PC, If you wish to run another OS for different hardware say an ARM CPU based PC, then you would need different software that can emulate hardware as well as run the virtual PC. An example of this is QEMU (
Anyway back to the Eureka moment, I currently run Virtual Box 4.0.6 on my Core 2 Duo 2.66 based desk top PC with 8 Gig Ram and running Linux Mint 11. I find VBox to be very good and often use it for testing out new Linux Distributions prior to trying a hardware install on one of my testing machines. However since upgrading to the 4.x version of this software I had not been able to get USB connectivity with the attached USB devises hooked up to the host PC.

In previous versions of VBox before I could get it to work at all after install, I had to go into users and groups and enable myself as a group VBox user. But with 4.x I was able to use it without doing this and I forgot to do it. I had installed the USB extension pack to enable USB 2 support but USB was still unavailable. Well tonight I just happened to be exploring the menus in Lubuntu and noticed the ' manage users and Groups' menu, hence the Eureka moment.

I shut down VBox and went into users and groups on my host PC and checked the setting for VBox and yes it was not checked for me to be a member of this group. I checked the relevant box put in my sudo password and exited. I then logged out of the session and re logged in to ensure the change took affect. I rebooted up VBox and hey presto I now have USB access to all my hardware when in a virtual PC.

Not a massive issue but I do now have access to my printer from a virtual machine which in the case of my Win XP install is quite useful. Sometimes it is the simplest things that you sometimes forget that fix problems, but it would be good if software that I had installed having had to give my admin password during the process had added me to the VBox user group from the installation.

It is small things like this that can make Linux seem difficult for windows users trying Linux for the first time, and in my opinion is hampering the take up of what is a very good OS, which, depending on the distribution used, can run on very low powered legacy hardware, to the latest high spec i7 rigs. A couple of years ago Canonical ran a project called 100 paper cuts to address some of these little niggles but there is obviously still a lot to do before it is as good as it could be.       

No comments:

Post a Comment