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A virtualized environment allows you to test drive an operating system without overwriting your current operating system. This is an excellent way to practice installation, to see if all of your hardware is supported, or to try multiple versions of operating systems. Virtualization software effectively creates windows (known as virtual machines) into which you can install and use an operating system. The only limitation to virtualization is your hardware as each virtual machine uses CPU and RAM. Depending upon the amount of CPU and RAM in your computer, you may find that the operating system you install using virtualization software runs slowly. If your computer slows down greatly, try closing other applications running on your computer to free up some RAM.
PC-BSD provides a PBI for VirtualBox, an open source virtualization program originally created by Innotek, who were acquired by Sun Microsystems. Subsequently Sun Microsystems were acquired by Oracle and the product was renamed to Oracle VM VirtualBox. VirtualBox also runs on Windows, Linux, Macintosh, and OpenSolaris and supports a large number of operating systems that can be installed into a virtual machine.
If your computer is already running a version of PC-BSD, you can use AppCafe® to install VirtualBox. If your computer is running another operating system, download the binary for your operating system from the VirtualBox Downloads page.
In order to install or run PC-BSD within VirtualBox, you will need to create a virtual machine that meets the following minimum requirements:
- 512 MB base memory size
- a virtual disk at least 8 GB in size to hold the operating system and swap
- a bridged adapter
The rest of this section will demonstrate how to create and use the virtual machine.
Creating a Virtual Machine
Once installed, start VirtualBox to see the screen shown in Figure 2.9a:
Figure 2.9a: Initial VirtualBox Screen
Before you can install an operating system, you need to create a virtual machine. To do so, click the New button to start the new virtual machine wizard. Click the Next button to see the screen in Figure 2.9b:
Figure 2.9b: Type in a Name and Select the Operating System for the New Virtual Machine
Enter a name for your virtual machine, which can be anything that makes sense to you. Click the Operating System drop down menu and select BSD which will automatically change the Version menu to FreeBSD. Click Next to see the screen in Figure 2.9c:
Figure 2.9c: Select the Amount of Memory Reserved for the Virtual Machine
The base memory size should be changed to at least 512 MB. If your system has a lot of RAM, you should probably assign more memory to your virtual machine. Any number within the green area is considered a safe value by VirtualBox, meaning it should not slow down your computer too much. When finished, click Next to see the screen in Figure 2.9d:
Figure 2.9d: Select Whether to Use an Existing or Create a New Virtual Disk
This screen is used to create the virtual hard disk--in other words, the amount of disk space that will be available to the virtual machine. If this is your first virtual machine, keep the default of "Start-up disk" and click Next. If you have created a virtual machine in the past and wish to reuse its disk space, select "Use existing hard disk" and select it from the drop down menu. You can create as many virtual machines as you wish. However, if your computer is getting low in disk space, you should consider reusing existing virtual hard disks to prevent your hard drive from being used up by old virtual machines.
If you choose to create a new hard disk, the "Create New Virtual Disk Wizard", seen in Figure 2.9e, will launch when you click Next.
Figure 2.9e: Create New Virtual Disk Wizard
The wizard can be used to create the following types of virtual disk formats:
- VDI: Virtual Disk Image is the format used by VirtualBox. Select this option if you downloaded a PC-BSD Virtualbox disk or ISO file.
- VMDK: Virtual Machine Disk is the format used by VMWare. Select this option if you downloaded a PC-BSD VMware disk image.
NOTE: VirtualBox does not automatically support USB as a boot device. The Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack can be used to convert an .img file to a VMDK. However, there is no BSD Extension Pack at this time. This means that you should not download a PC-BSD USB image if you plan to use it within VirtualBox on a BSD system.
Once you make a selection, click the Next button to see the screen in Figure 2.9f:
Figure 2.9f: Select the Storage Type for the Virtual Disk
You can now choose whether you want "Dynamically allocated" or "Fixed size" storage. The first option uses disk space as needed until it reaches the maximum size that you will set in the next screen. The second option creates a disk the same size as that specified amount of disk space, whether it's used or not. Choose the first option if you are worried about disk space; otherwise choose the second option as it allows VirtualBox to run slightly faster. Once you select Next, you'll see the screen in Figure 2.9g:
Figure 2.9g: Select the File Name and Size of the Virtual Disk
This screen is used to set the size (or upper limit) of the virtual machine. If you plan to install PC-BSD into the virtual machine, increase the size to at least 8 GB or you will receive an error during the PC-BSD installation. If you plan to install KDE, GNOME, multiple desktop managers, or PBIs within the virtual machine, you will probably want to choose at least 20 - 30GB. Whatever size you set, make sure that your computer has enough free disk space to support it. Use the folder icon to browse to a directory on disk with sufficient space to hold your virtual machine.
Once you make your selection and press Next, you will see a summary of your choices. You can use the Back button to return to a previous screen if you wish to change any values. Otherwise, click Create to finish using the wizard. Your virtual machine should now show up in the left box, as seen in the example in Figure 2.9h:
Figure 2.9h: The New Virtual Machine
Configuring the Network Adapter
If you wish to use your network card, you will need to configure bridging on your virtual machine. To do this, go to Settings ➜ Network. In the 'Attached to' drop-down menu select Bridged Adapter and select the name of the physical interface from the Name drop-down menu. In the example shown in Figure 2.9i, the Intel Pro/1000 Ethernet card (which is known to work for PC-BSD) is attached to the network and has a device name of re0.
Figure 2.9i: Configuring a Bridged Adapter in VirtualBox
Configuring the Storage Device
Before starting your virtual machine, you will want to configure it to use your installation media. Click the Storage hyperlink in the right frame to access the storage screen seen in Figure 2.9j:
Figure 2.9j: The Storage Settings of the Virtual Machine
Double-click the word Empty, which represents your DVD reader. If you wish to access the PC-BSD installer from your DVD reader, double-check that the Slot is pointing to the correct location (e.g. IDE Secondary Master) and use the drop down menu to change it if the location is incorrect. Click the CD/DVD Device drop down menu to change it from empty to the Host Drive value.
If you prefer to use an ISO that is stored on your hard disk, click the DVD icon ➜ "Choose a virtual CD/DVD disk file" to open a browser menu where you can navigate to the location of the ISO. Highlight the desired ISO and click Open. The name of the ISO will now appear in the Storage Tree section.
NOTE: the selected ISO/DVD can be 32-bit, even if you are using VirtualBox on a 64-bit system. Depending upon the extensions available in your CPU, you may or may not be able to run a 64-bit ISO on a 64-bit system. If you receive the error "your CPU does not support long mode" when you try to boot a 64-bit ISO, your CPU either does not have the required extension or AMD-V/VT-x is disabled in the system BIOS.
You are now ready to install PC-BSD into your virtual machine. Simply highlight the virtual machine and click on the green Start icon. A window will open indicating that the virtual machine is starting. If you have a DVD inserted, you should hear it spin and it should start to boot into the installation program. If it doesn't or if you're using an ISO stored on the hard disk, press F12 to select the boot device when you see the message to do so, then press "c" to boot from CD-ROM. You can then proceed through the installation as described in the Installation section.
NOTE: The virtual machine will "capture" your mouse pointer. Use your right Ctrl button if you wish to leave the virtual machine and use your mouse to interact with other applications on your computer. To go back to the virtual machine, simply click anywhere inside the virtual machine and VirtualBox will re-capture your mouse pointer.
Installing VirtualBox Guest Additions
Beginning with PC-BSD 9.0, you can install the VirtualBox Guest Additions either during installation or after installation using Control Panel ➜ System Manager ➜ System Components ➜ Misc. The guest additions add mouse pointer integration, shared folders between the host and guest, better video support, and a shared clipboard. To use the improved video support, select vboxvideo in Control Panel ➜ Display.
Using the Downloadable VirtualBox Disk
You will need to unzip the VMware and VirtualBox images before using them. The password for both the guest and root user for these virtual images is pcbsd.
While using a virtual environment allows you to test an operating system without affecting what else is currently installed on the system, there are some tips to be aware of when using VirtualBox.
If the installer program fails to load, try increasing the amount of RAM in the virtual machine. The bare minimum is 512 MB, but increasing this value to 1024 or higher will sometimes allow an unbootable ISO to boot into the installer.
If the installation fails and you would like to review the installation log, right-click the virtual machine window and select xterm from the menu. You can now type more /tmp/pc-sysinstall.log to review the log.
Ctrl-f (right ctrl key only) will toggle the virtual machine window in and out of full-screen mode.