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Linux tips and tweaks

Upgrade to VirtualBox 4

VirtualBox is a PC emulator and it runs on Linux, Windows and Aple Mac OS X. It basically simulates a whole PC in software including the hard disk drive, memory, processor, graphics card, sound system and so on. What makes it so good and so useful is that you can install a wide range of operating systems in a VirtualBox virtual machine, such as Windows and Linux. This means that you can run Windows in Linux and even one Linux distro inside another one, such as Mandriva in Ubuntu. VirtualBox version 4 was recently released and it has some useful improvements that make it worthwhile upgrading. Replacing version 3 with 4 in Linux is quite straightforward and anyone can do it.

In Ubuntu Linux for example, go to the Synaptic Package Manager and enter VirtualBox into the search box. You'll see it listed and marked as installed. Right click it and select Mark for Removal. Click the Apply button and VirtualBox is uninstalled. Don't worry if you have virtual machines in VirtualBox because only the software is removed and your virtual machines are kept.

You can now go to www.virtualbox.org and download the latest version for your distro - there are versions for Ubuntu 8.04-10.10, Debian 5/6, openSUSE 11.1/2/3/4, Fedora 13/14, Mandriva 2010.0/1, Red Hat 4/5/6, Turbolinux 11 and a general version that should work with other distros.

After downloading the file in Ubuntu for example, you just double click it and then click the Install Package button.


There are two tasks to perform after installation and one is to download the extensions pack from the VirtualBox website. This adds things like USB 2 support. Run VirtualBox and go into the settings to load the extensions pack. The second thing to do is to upgrade the VirtualBox Guest Additions. These make switching from the guest OS to the host OS much smoother and enables shared folders that both operating systems can access to exchange files. With Windows running in a virtual machine for example, you'll need to restart it and then press F8 just before Windows starts to load. Choose Safe Mode from the menu and when you get to the desktop, click Devices, Install Guest Additions. Double click the CD-Rom drive in the (My) Computer window and they'll install. Make sure you tick the 3D support option.

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