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Sun VirtualBox tutorial: Guest Additions, shared folders and more

This Sun VirtualBox tutorial offers expert advice on VirtualBox, Sun Microsystems' free, open source desktop virtualization software that can also benefit virtual server environments.

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With Sun VirtualBox, server administrators can view virtual machines (VMs) remotely and import VMDK files for VM migrations. The Virtual Box shared folders feature lets users share folders among VMs without using the network, and you can also assign USB devices to specific host or guest machines.

The tips in this Sun VirtualBox tutorial from virtualization expert Rick Vanover cover some of the major features in VirtualBox: Guest Additions, VM snapshots and bridged networking. Learn how VirtualBox can help IT managers with administration of their desktop and server virtualization environments.

Sun VirtualBox tutorial table of contents
VirtualBox Guest Additions improve user experience
How to enable VirtualBox shared folders
View Sun VirtualBox virtual machines remotely with VRDP
Sun VirtualBox snapshots at a glance
Import VMDK files into Sun VirtualBox
A look at bridged virtual networks in Sun VirtualBox
Using USB device filters with Sun xVM VirtualBox

 

VirtualBox Guest Additions improve user experience
VirtualBox Guest Additions is a suite that integrates host and guest drivers, much like VMware Tools. But it has some features that set it apart, including the option to choose from four different device types to present to the VM. In addition, VirtualBox Guest Additions come in a straightforward installation that automatically updates the drivers for video, audio, disk drives and other components.

 

How to enable VirtualBox shared folders
VirtualBox shared folders offer significant benefits, because they let administrators move files from the host to a guest virtual machine without using the network. To enable VirtualBox shared folders, the guest VM must be turned off. Then all you have to do is configure the VM as a shared folder and turn it back on. A script is also available to automatically configure VirtualBox shared folders.

 

View Sun VirtualBox virtual machines remotely with VRDP
VirtualBox Remote Desktop Protocol (VRDP) lets administrators configure their VirtualBox servers to remotely view virtual machines. VRDP is compatible with Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol, but it takes a different approach by using console access to guest VMs instead of a Web-based interface. Learn how to configure VRDP in Sun VirtualBox.

 

Sun VirtualBox snapshots at a glance
VirtualBox snapshots let administrators save copies of their VMs at a specific moment in time. Much like the feature in VMware Workstation, VirtualBox snapshots can be taken when a VM is either running or offline. But there are some differences; for example, you must take a snapshot from the VM's properties when it is offline. Learn more about VirtualBox snapshots in this tip.

 

Import VMDK files into Sun VirtualBox
Sun VirtualBox uses its Virtual Disk Manager (VDM) tool to control and inventory all virtual disks -- including floppy, CD-ROM and hard drives. Find out how to import VMware-based VMDK files into VirtualBox by using VDM, which can also manage VirtualBox virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) files.

 

A look at bridged virtual networks in Sun VirtualBox
Virtual networking is one area where VirtualBox could use some work, expert Rick Vanover writes. VirtualBox lets administrators assign four different network interface cards to VMs, which allows for multiple operating system support. But the design can cause problems, because it puts these VMs and the host on the same physical network.

 

Using USB device filters with Sun xVM VirtualBox
The USB device filters feature in Sun VirtualBox lets administrators selectively map USB devices from the host to guest virtual machines. But there can be some complications. Admins must perform the USB device mapping offline and make sure to add the proper drivers for Windows operating systems. Plus, when a USB device is mapped to a guest VM, it is unavailable to the host. Find out how to get the most out of VirtualBox USB device filters.

This was first published in October 2009

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