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Can you run a virtual machine inside a virtual machine?


I spent all yesterday afternoon trying to answer the question can you run a virtual machine inside a virtual machine?

To answer this question I downloaded Vmware Player and  the open source Virtualbox and started ‘playing’.  After a couple of hours I came up with the following.

1. Running a virtual machine (either Linux or Windows) using Vmware Player inside Vmware Player is a non starter as Vmware do not support this.  I tried and got internal monitor errors everytime and then a system crash.

2. Next I tried to run a VMware Player virtual machine inside Linux Mint 11 which was hosted on Virtualbox.  Nope it didn’t like this either as the virtual machine started, got passed the BIOS and then nothing.  Had the same issue with Windows 7.

3. Time to keep going so next I tried to run a Virtualbox virtual machine inside Virtualbox.  Virtualbox spat out the dummy once you got passed the BIOS.  The screen would freeze up and then nothing.  Again I had the same results on both Windows 7 and Linux Mint 11.  I had heard that if you run different versions of Virtualbox you might get it to work so I tried that too.  Again Virtualbox was not playing.

4. Finally I tried running a Virtualbox virtual machine inside VMWare Player.  This configuration got as far as loading the kernel and then hung.  Further research indicated that you can load a different kernel which ‘might’ work.  I didn’t try this.

So to answer the question, no you can’t run a virtual machine inside a virtual machine (as long as you are using either Vmware Player or Virtualbox).  I have not tried the other virtual software options on the market yet.

But now I will ask another question.  Even if you could why would you want to?

About the Author

P1020114

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

 

How to Backup a Virtual machine in Virtualbox


Today I will show you how to backup your virtual machines in Virtualbox.

Open up Virtualbox to get a screenshot similar to that shown below.

Now go to File – Export Appliance to start the Appliance Export Wizard shown below.

Now you have to choose which virtual machine you want to backup.  For the purpose of this tutorial I will choose Ubuntu 11.10. Once you have chosen click next.

If you see the above message do not be alarmed.  What this means is that if you export a saved machine and then try to import it at a later date it will not work.  To make it work either export a virtual machine in a powered off state or when you import a virtual machine in a saved state disconnect the virtual hard drive and then reattach it again.

Next we have to decide where you want to save your virtual machine backup.  Best practice is not to save it on the same hard drive as the one which hosts your virtual machine.

Once you have chosen the backup location just click next.

All that is left to do is check over your settings (screenshot above) and click Export.  Your virtual machine will then be backed up to the specified location.

About the Author

P1020114

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

 

How to set up a VPN Server on Windows Server 2008 R2


Today we are going to have a look at setting up a VPN server on Windows Server 2008 R2.  For anyone who would rather set one up on Windows 7 instead you can find the relevant tutorial by reading this blog.

For the purposes of this tutorial I will be using Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard with 2Gb of RAM and tw0 network cards hosted within Virtualbox.  I will assume that you have already installed Windows Server 2008 R2 within your existing network.

The first thing you need to do is add the Network Policy and Access role in Server Manager (as shown below).

On the next screen make sure that Routing and Remote Access Services, Remote Access Service and Routing are all ticked (shown below).

On the final page click install.

Once installed expand Network Policy and Access Services in Server Manager and right click on Routing and Remote Access to start the wizard.

On the Configuration page click on Remote Access.  On the Remote Access page which follows click on VPN.

On the VPN Connection page choose the network adapter which connects to the internet and click on next (for the purpose of this tutorial I will leave the ip address as dhcp but in real life you would set this as a static ip address).

On the following page you will be asked to specify how your vpn server will assign ip addresses to clients.  Unless you have some specific need for certain addresses then I would suggest you leave this as automatic.

Once your ip address assignment has been taken care of you will then be asked if you want to set up the vpn server to work with a Radius Server.  If you don’t have one on your network then choose no.

On the final page click finish and your vpn server will then be installed.  Don’t forget to set up port forwarding on your router or you will not be able to access your vpn server.

Only thing left to do is to check the configuration by trying to access your server by vpn. For guidance on how to set up a vpn connection on Windows 7 please refer to this blog.

About the Author

Hi I am 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 and around Stirling.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more.

 

Untangle Linux Gateway


I have been looking around lately at all the old hardware I have lying around and thought what could I do with it all? Media center? Web server? Hardware Firewall perhaps? Then I came across Untangle Linux Gateway and thought why not give this a try!!  Next thought was why install on the old hardware and increase my energy costs when I can install it on Virtualbox on my main Linux server instead? So I have installed Untangle Linux Firewall on Virtualbox running on a Debian 7.0 File and Print Server and below will outline how I did it.

My network looks like this:

Internet – Wireless Router – Untangle Linux Gateway – Debian 7.0 file and print server – Various Virtual machines.

I have left the wireless router outside the main network as I am only concerned with protecting my main server and virtual machines.  I will still have firewalls on any wireless clients.

First thing is to get a copy of Untangle Linux Gateway and the best place is here.  Once you have it fire up Virtualbox and add a new virtual machine.  Remember you need the following requirements during set up:

1. Create a fixed sized disk of at least 20Gb.  If you allocate a dynamic disk the installation will fail.

2.  Allocate at least 512Mb of RAM.  I allocated 1024Mb and it runs fine.

3.  Make sure you allocate 2 NIC’s for your virtual machine and set both to bridged adapter so Untangle can talk to the rest of your network.

Mount your iso in the virtual cd drive and fire up the virtual machine and then follow installation instructions.  Make sure that you set the following during installation:

When asked set the external adapter to DHCP (unless you have got a static ip address from your ISP) and verify your internet connection.  Make sure that the DNS server and gateway are on the same subnet as your host machine.  For example mine looked like this:

ip address 192.168.1.10

default gateway 192.168.1.1

dns server 192.168.1.1

*My home server is on 192.168.1.9*

Your internal adapter should be set as bridge and bridge to external.  This will allow you to use your 1 physical adapter as two virtual ones.

Once installed (it does take a while) you will be asked to upgrade your Untangle system prior to installing any Apps.  Do this as it is always important to have an up to date system.  Next download the Lite package on the rack.  This will install all the open source packages you require and personally unless you are a medium to large business all you will ever need. Once installed test your connectivity from other machines on the network and also check how secure your network is by going to ShieldsUp and using their online firewall scanner to test your firewall.

As for all the old hardware? Suggestions here please to the usual address!!

About the Author

Hi I am Chris the owner of ComTech. I provide IT Support, Laptop repairs and Computer repairs to both personal and business clients in and around Stirling. For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find my blog, testimonials, services and much more.  Start supporting a local business today so I can start supporting you.

If you found this blog useful then why not sign up to my RSS Feed for news, tutorials, views and general techie stuff!!

 

 

How to configure networking in Virtualbox

Following on from last time today we shall cover networking and in particular sharing folders.  Lets take networking first.

Virtualbox covers networking by using different network adapter settings for different circumstances.  These are NAT, Bridged Adapter, Internal Network and Host-Only Adapter.  All of these settings can be found under Settings – Network on the default Virtualbox page.

So what does each setting do? NAT allows your virtual network to use only one outgoing IP address which would be visible on the internet but multiple internal IP addresses.  You would use this, for example, in a home network where all the computers are connected to a switch and a single router.  NAT is the default setting.

Bridged Adapter allows your virtual machine to talk to any computer on your physical network just like if  you attached a new computer.   So for example if you had Windows Server 2008 R2 in a virtual machine you would use this setting to allow it to talk to all the computers on your network.

Internal Network allows all your virtual machines to talk to each other but not the outside network.  This is useful when you set up an network specifically for testing purposes.

Finally Host Only Adapter allows the host to communicate with a set of virtual machines.  This would be useful if you wanted to set up a network but did not have the physical hardware to do so.


So looking at the options above you would network up your virtual machines and share your folders exactly the same as if you had networked up two physical computers.  There is another way though.  If you just want the host computer to talk to one virtual machine at a time and are not interested in networking the virtual machines then use the Virtualbox shared folders setting.  For example you might have a Linux host with two virtual machines, Windows 7 and Windows XP.  You use the virtual machines to test software but don’t require them to communicate with each other, however you do need access to folders on the host system.  To set up shared folders go to Settings – Shared Folders and attach the folders you want to share.  It is that simple!!

About the Author

P1020114

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

 

 

 

Virtualbox

Today we are going to talk about virtual software and in particular Virtualbox. Virtualbox is open source and allows you to run multiple operating systems at the same time. So if you have a mission critical piece of software that runs on Windows XP but doesn’t run on Windows 7 then just install XP inside a virtual machine and run the software that way instead.

For the basis of this tutorial I will be running Virtualbox on Linux Mint 10 and installing Windows Server 2008 R2 inside a virtual machine.

Ok lets go. First thing to do is to download Virtualbox. Go to www.virtualbox.org and download and install the package.  You can run virtualbox on Windows, Mac and Linux.


Once installed open up Virtualbox and click on New (top left corner).  This will open up the Create New Virtual Machine wizard.  Click next and choose the operating system you want to install.

On the next page you will be asked how much of your memory on the host system you want to allocate to the virtual system.  Word of warning here, if you allocate too much memory then the host system will not have enough to operate and will crash in the background every time you start up your virtual machine.  As a rule of thumb I tend to leave 1 Gb of memory for the host system.

Next page is the Virtual Hard Disk page.  You will be asked if you want to use an existing disk image or create a new one.  If this is your first set up then create a new one.  Creating a new disk image will take you onto the Create New Virtual Disk Wizard.

You will be given two choices, either dynamically expanding storage (disk size starts small but will increase over time to a maximum amount) or fixed size storage.  I always use dynamically expanding storage as this takes up less space at the start.

Once you have decided what type of storage you want you then have to decide where you want to keep it and what size the virtual hard disk will be.

Try and save the virtual disk image on a different hard drive to the host operating system.  This way if the hard drive with the host system on it fails you do not lose the virtual system by default.

Once saved then press finish.  This will take you back to the virtualbox default page and your virtual machine will be located in the left panel ready for activation.  Before you activate and install your system there are a couple of things we need to do.

Highlight your virtual machine and go into settings.  Here you can adjust the settings to suit your own personal needs.  The display settings for example should always be set to maximum for best performance.  If you go into USB you can attach USB devices to your virtual machine (for example printers).  I will discuss networking and storage next time as that is a topic unto itself.  Play around with the settings and see what suits you.

Now it is time to install your operating system and this is done exactly the same as if you where installing it onto a normal system.  Insert the CD and let it run.  You will notice that when installing your mouse will be ‘captured’ by the virtual machine.  You need to press down arrow, right arrow, CTRL to uncapture it which will allow you to use the host system again.  This is a temporary thing as when the operating system is installed you can install a piece of software called Guest Additions which will allow you to use the mouse across both the host system and virtual system at the same time.  Go try out this tutorial and next time we shall delve into how to make virtualbox play nicely with networking and storage.

About the Author

P1020114

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

 

 

 

Virtualization

What is Virtualization?

Virtualization is the creation of a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, such as an operating system, a storage device or network resources. For example you can run a virtual Windows operating system within an actual Linux system, thereby giving you two working systems on one set of hardware.

Advantages

  • Less hardware is required to run the same amount of software, therefore saving in hardware costs. You could happily run all your applications on one server while running four virtual servers inside it performing other roles.
  • Data recovery is simplified. If your virtual server becomes corrupted then you just delete it and restore from a virtual backup.
  • Allows you to test different software configurations on different platforms before you deploy it.
  • Reduces energy consumption.
  • Improved system reliability and security. Virtualization of systems helps prevent crashes due to memory corruption caused by software like device drivers.


Disadvantages

  • Magnified physical failures. If your main hard drive (or raid configuration) containing all your physical and virtual data goes down you would have to restore all your servers (physical and virtual).
  • Virtualization requires more memory and processing power. This would need to be factored into any virtualization strategy.
  • Training. Administrators might not have the skills necessary to administer a virtual environment.
  • Complex troubleshooting when things don’t work. Is there a issue with the virtual machine or some other problem?

Virtual Software choices

There is a multitude of companies offering their own flavour of virtual software. The main ones are detailed below:

VMWare www.vmware.com

Oracle Virtualbox www.virtualbox.org (ComTech uses this software for both our clients and our own systems)

Microsoft Hyper V www.microsoft.com

Citrix Xen Software www.citrix.com

About the Author

P1020114

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

 

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