ComTech: IT Support Stirling

Try this for testing those backup images

Backups – those wonderful things that come to the rescue when things go wrong.  They are very easy to take (if you decide to take them) but how often do you check them.  Be honest with yourself here.

Anyway as part of my routine server maintenance I tend to take system images.  This means that if something goes wrong, like for example a faulty hard drive, I can quickly recover the system.  Every tech will have their own personal choice on what software to use for taking images and I am no different.  My software of choice is Clonezilla and there are multiple reasons for this, mainly I love opensource software and that it is bloody good software.  I have written an earlier tutorial for anyone who wants to learn how to use Clonezilla.

Once I have the backed up image what is the best way to check them? Again everyone will have their own way of doing this and mine? Turn it into a virtual machine!!

The theory goes something like this. If the system image can be booted up as a virtual machine then it is not corrupt and should also boot up on the original hardware and also similar hardware. This has been tested using Oracle Virtualbox on numerous occasions and I can vouch that it works.

The steps are:

1. Take your image using Clonezilla and save to an external hard drive

2. Create a virtual machine using Oracle Virtualbox (this should also work with VMWare Workstation) and make sure that the hard drive size is exactly the same as the original.

3. Restore the cloned system to the virtual hard drive.

I am not saying this is the best way to check your images but rather a different way that has served me well in the past.

About the Author


Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter



Maybe running your old XP programs after April 2014 is not so easy after all

I have a client that is running a business critical piece of software on an old XP system.  I had a meeting with them last week about their transition to Windows 7 (they hate Windows 8) and the main point of contention is what happens to this software.  They would like to keep it running (the new subscription for the software is £800 per year so I don’t really blame them) so I suggested virtualizing the XP system and running it on the new Windows 7 system when required.  Sounds like a plan.

Virtualizing the system was pretty straight forward using VMWare P2V Converter and because I tend to use Oracle Virtualbox to run my virtual machines I had to tweak the settings a bit.

NOTE: If anyone is going to run a virtualized XP system on Virtualbox you need to set the IDE Controller as PIIX 4 or you will get blue screens when you try and boot.

Once the virtual machine started it was time to test it and this is when the problems started. The business critical software will not run inside a virtual machine!!  I have come across this with games inside a virtual machine but never commercial software before.  I am guessing it is due to copyright laws but whatever the reason it will not run fullstop.  Even Google couldn’t help on this one.

The clients only options are to run the old system (without internet access) on the network and use it only for this software or stump up the yearly subscription fees.

If you have a piece of XP software you need to keep going past April 2014 then I suggest you check if it can be run inside a virtual machine before you get a nasty surprise when it can’t.

About the Author


Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in Stirling and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter


How do you manage virtual machines over a network using Oracle Virtualbox?

How do you manage virtual machines over a network using Oracle Virtualbox? I have been asked this a couple of times recently and today I will show you how.  Most of my tutorials on Virtualbox have been along the lines of installing the software onto a system and managing the virtual machines on that system in person.  This works well if you have a couple of virtual desktop machines but when you have quite a few servers involved going between each server to carry out maintenance becomes very tedious.

This is where you need a piece of software called phpvirtualbox.  Phpvirtualbox is an open source web based front end for Virtualbox which allows you to manage all of your virtual machines over the internet.

So lets take a look at how we set this up.  For the basis of this tutorial I will be using Linux Mint 12 and Virtualbox 4.1.4.

We first need to download and install the current version of Virtualbox from the Virtualbox website.

Once installed we need to add a user who will run Virtualbox.  Open up a terminal as root and type:

adduser vbox

When asked supply a user password.  Next we have to add the vbox user to the vboxusers group in the /etc/group file.  So type (as root):

gedit /etc/group

Add vboxusers:x:113:vbox to the file and save.

Once we have finished with Virtualbox it is time to set up our web server.  Since this is Linux we will be using Apache.  For details on how to set up a Linux web server follow this tutorial.

Now we need to download, install and configure phpvirtualbox.  The current release can be downloaded from the phpvirtualbox website.

I am assuming your downloads go to your Download folder.  If not replace Downloads with the location that the file was downloaded to.  Open up a terminal and type the following commands one at a time:

cd Downloads

cp -a phpvirtualbox-4.1.7 /var/www/phpvirtualbox

cd /var/www/phpvirtualbox

mv config.php-example config.php

It is now time to configure the config.php file so type:

sudo gedit config.php


* phpVirtualBox example configuration.
* @version $Id: config.php-example 366 2011-12-01 19:56:57Z $
* rename to config.php and edit as needed.
class phpVBoxConfig {

/* Username / Password for system user that runs VirtualBox */
var $username = ‘vbox’;
var $password = ‘*********’;

/* SOAP URL of vboxwebsrv (not phpVirtualBox’s URL) */
var $location = ‘’;

/* Default language. See languages folder for more language options.
* Can also be changed in File -> Preferences -> Language in
* phpVirtualBox.
var $language = ‘en’;


Locate the username and password (BOLD above) and change the password to the one you created earlier.  Once done save and exit.

Now we need to make sure that Virtualbox can start at boot time and that means configuring init scripts.  Open up a terminal and type:

cd /etc/init.d

and then:

sudo touch /etc/init.d/vbox.start

Now we need to configure the file so type:

sudo gedit /etc/init.d/vbox.start

Copy /usr/bin/vboxwebsrv -b into the file.  Save and exit.


That is Virtualbox configured to start at boot time but we now have to enable it so type:

chmod +x /etc/init.d/vbox.start

followed by:

update-rc.d vbox.start defaults

Now it is time to reboot the server.  Once it has rebooted go to a web browser and point it to http://your_server_address/phpvirtualbox

You will now be able to manage all the virtual machines on the network from the comfort of your own chair.

About the Author

Hi I am Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in and around Stirling.



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