How to get shared folder to work with a virtual ubuntu in Virtualbox

Getting shared folder to work with a virtual ubuntu in Virtualbox is a bit of a nightmare.
Initially they simply can’t be accessed, even after re-installing Virtualbox guest add-ons.
The reason and solution is described here, but adding root account to group vboxsf didn’t work as well because of this problem: "usermod: cannot lock /etc/passwd; try again later.".

Thus, to summarize this mess, to make it work
# you have to reboot into recovery mode
# run this: mount -o remount,rw /
# then that: usermod -a -G vboxsf adminuser
# resume booting into normal mode

Problem solved.
Shared folders BTW can be found under /media.

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Windows 95 under Windows Vista

After I had been able to get a Windows XP running under my Windows Vista using Sun’s Virtualbox I was still experimenting to get a Windows 95 running as well. I had been running into the problem that setup of Windows 95 failed at the point where it started to copy files to the disk. After I got myself the latest version of Virtualbox (3.1.2) I tried again and failed again. Nevertheless, this discussion thread in the Microsoft Server Forum made me a bit smarter so that I could overcome a few problems and finally got Windows 95 installed. The solution was to start the setup from c: root drive as "setup\setup.exe" instead of changing to the setup directory and starting it from there, and to apply the following virtualization configuration settings: 8 MB video memory, 128 MB RAM, 500 MB hard disk ( I actually used the 2 GByte initially recommended by Virtualbox, but configured my primary partition to be 500 MByte ), disabling VT-x/AMD-V and pae/nxBut. So far, so good. After a successful looking installation I attempted to boot it the first time it bumped into an “invalid or corrupted command.com” problem.

I discovered a newer version of Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 which now runs on Windows Vista ( even during the install it told me it wouldn’t be supported on my home edition of Windows Vista ) and thus tried this one to setup a Windows 95 on my Vista box. Same result. Apparently something wrong with my installation media ? But why did the install succeed ?

Finally I got the idea to grab a copy of my virtual Windows 95 hard disk from my old XP machine where I had setup Windows95 under Windows XP using an older version of Microsoft Virtual PC 2007. After I had copied this over my Windows 95 booted up nicely. At least the first time. During the second boot it ran into this problem. A patch is recommended in this discussion thread and it is assumed this error can be caused by the processor speed being too high. Before I tried the patch I disabled hardware virtualization and see: Windows 95 now boots without any problems.

Windows 95 running on Vista

Thus, time now to play Tomb Raider 3 and other good old games in a Windows 95 box on my Vista PC.

Update on February 10, 2010:

After fixing my command.com by copying it over into the root and windows directory from my working Win 95 computer I got Windows 95 also to run using Virtualbox. Network started to work after I manually added the TCP/IP protocol, sound works with Soundblaster 16 support, after I ran the hardware assistance.

Windows XP under Windows Vista – with VirtualBox 2.0

After in June I have set up a Windows XP under my Windows Vista Box my first enthusiasm has been decreased a little bit: it turned out that VMWare Server ( V 1.0.6; today it offered an update but their web site did not respond Sad) actually does not play very nice under my Vista: the first time I try to fire up my guest operating system it starts eating memory like hell and takes forever to start. There is also a good chance that it freezes my PC.

After Lifehacker mentioned VirtualBox 2.0  I decided to give that a try. Installation went smooth as well as setting up my first Windows XP guest system. What I really like is the seamless adjustment of my guest systems desktop when resizing the windows and the seamless catching of mouse and keyboard as I move into the guest OS screen; this had been enabled after I installed the virtual box extensions on the guest system. What is really nice is that it starts my Windows XP fast and smoothly without any major hiccups on my host. What is also very beautiful is that I even was able to get one of my old strategy games to run properly on this virtual machine ( “Cossacks European Wars”, which doesn’t run on Vista of course and did not run well on VMWare due to video problems. Since I am working on one of the last and obviously very complex missions with lots of active units I have been running into limitations on my old Windows XP Sony PC with 512 MByte RAM and a Pentium 4 1.7 GHz processor: the simulation was running a bit bumpy. On my new computer with 4 GByte and a Intel Core 2 Quad CPU Q9300 with 2.5 GHz this mission runs pretty smooth under VirtualBox 2.0 – thus the overhead through virtualization does not seem to have a major negative impact compared to the gained hardware resources ).

Scene from Cossacks European Wars, Baltic Campagne:
Lots of units to deal with.

What I also like is the dynamic size management of my hard drive image ( up to a pre-defined maximum ).

I couldn’t get USB support to work so far: it does seem to recognize my USB devices but I was not able to access my USB memory stick. I use Shared Folders instead which works nicely: the shared folder can be found in the Explorer under My Network Places –> Entire Network –>VirtualBox Shared Folder. Audio started working after I switched the Audio settings for my virtual machine from “Null Audio Driver” to “Windows DirectSound”.

The virtualization technology seems to be quiet different: I believe VirtualBox uses more of the host operating system than VMWare. My old Vista problem with PicasaWeb is still there on my guest Windows XP under VirtualBox, but was gone when using VMWare.

Nevertheless: good job, Sun, I am positively surprised Smile !

Some tips around a virtual Windows 95

After I have set up a virtual Windows XP on my Vista box I also was attempting to get a Windows 95 image to run on my Vista using Vmware Server. Here are a few hurdles I had to go through to get it running in a more useful way:

  1. Audio didn’t work, even after enabling the audio device in my virtual computer before doing the install. Adding hardware is risky: when running the automatic hardware discovery the beast freezes including the host system and including a blue screen of death experience. When adding hardware the automatic scan should be skipped. A working audio driver turned out to be the Creative ‘Sound Blaster PCI 128’ driver as mentioned here, which I downloaded from  the Creative archives.
  2. Network didn’t work. This was easy to fix by just adding the Microsoft TCP/IP protocol ( through “Network” in the Control Panel, Configuration – Add … ) 
  3. The built-in browser (Microsoft Internet Explorer Version 3.0) was hopelessly old and did not render any web page correctly and threw thousands of “script error” messages. A browser working under Windows 95 turned out to be Opera version 9.22, as mentioned in this blog posting, which still is available from here. Before I tried to install older versions of firefox ( back to 1.5.0.9 ) or flock or Netscape without success: either the installer crashed or the browser itself after installation, and I couldn’t get any older versions of these browser.

Windows XP under Windows Vista

After doing my first steps with computer virtualization and getting Windows 95 to run under a Windowx XP host system on my old computer and after buying a new computer with Windows Vista installed the next logical step for me was to try getting Windows XP running under my Windows Vista system.

Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 turned out not to be a solution for that since it doesn’t run under Windows Vista, as I mentioned here. Thus I headed to vmware.com and installed free Vmware Server.  This software allows not only to  run any of the many available virtual appliances available out there, it also allows to build your own. Those available virtual applicances usually are based on free linux operating systems. Since Windows is a proprietary operating system you need to build your own virtual appliance using your own Windows license.

Thus my first step to take was to actually build myself a Windows XP installation CD since the Windows XP license I own is an OEM license for my old computer which did not come with a native installation CD; only some recovery CDs are available for my old computer.

How to Create a Bootable Windows XP Setup Disk on a Preinstalled / Preloaded Windows System“ by Christopher Heng was a valuable read and procedure for me to get myself that CD.

After creating a new guest operating system with VMWare Server ( and configuring it to use the right CD drive of my computer ) I was able to boot it up with this new CD and get me XP installed. And after approx. 45-60 minutes – it took some time to prepare the 80 GByte hard disk I had specified for this guest system – my Windows XP virtual system went live.

Windows XP running on Windows Vista

The only initial problem I saw was that no audio was available on my virtual Windows XP computer. Thanks to this article “Enabling Audio in VMware Server” by Mohammad Azimi I learned how to add additional items to my virtual computer ( an audio device in this case of course ) and thus getting it to play sounds and music.

Done. I have a Windows XP now running on my Windows Vista computer. And as soon as Vista starts to be too annoying I simply fire up XP ( or turn on my old computer which is still sitting there under my desk ).

Windows 95 under Windows XP

Last week I decided to try out Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 and to set up a Windows 95 virtual machine on a Windows XP host which is running on my SONY PCV-RX 202 with 512 MByte RAM and a 1.8 GHz Pentium 4 processor which I purchased in February 2002.

Installation of Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 was easy and also the set up of a virtual machine using the built-in wizard is a piece of cake. Blowing life into the virtual machine nevertheless turned out to be a little bit more complicated.

Challenge # 1 was to obtain a DOS or Windows boot diskette. From www.bootdisk.com I got me one and now was able to boot up my virtual machine the first time and to partition and format my virtual hard drive. Initially I did not seem to get access to my CD drive ( challenge # 2 ) but after I learned that in the CD menu of my virtual machine window I have to select “Use physical drive F:” ( F: is the CD drive of my computer ) this worked as well.

Challenge # 3 was to get an installable Windows 95 image. I did have a companion CD which came with my IBM Aptiva with a Pentium 2 266 MHz processor and 32 MB RAM which I purchased in April 1998 and which is still sitting somewhere under my desk in case I need to run some program under DOS or Windows 95. Unfortunately ( or intentionally I guess ) there is no setup.exe on this CD. Luckily I found this article explaining how to use a companion CD to install Windows 95 and all the missing files I had to add I found of course on my old IBM Aptiva:

  1. Copy the contents of the Win95 directory onto your harddrive into a new directory.
  2. Copy dossetup.bin, oemsetup.bin, oemsetup.exe, setup.exe, setup.txt, suhelper.bin, and winsetup.bin to the same directory (#1 above), from any version of Windows95.
  3. Run setup from the directory you chose in #1, above.

The installation succeeded but took a while and finally my virtual Windows 95 machine went alive. Nevertheless it took long to boot and also mouse movements have been very very slow. While investigating further I learned a couple more things:

Windows 95 running on Windows XP

After I figured out how to mount this version 2004 additions virtual CD and install the additions from there ( it actually starts automatically after a while ) and after I went through and actually ignored a few error messages coming up during this bumpy process I finally ended up with a smoothly responding and fast booting Windows 95 on my Windows XP computer.

It works quiet nice – the first program I tried was Tomb Raider 3 and so far I must say: it is real usable !

This means I now can kiss my old Aptiva good bye and get me some space under my desk for a new machine, after DosBox is doing a quiet good job to run all kinds of DOS programs on my XP box and Microsoft Virtual PC now gives me the option to also run Windows 95 programs which would not run under XP anymore.