In my last two articles (Installing Windows XP as a Virtual Machine on VirtualBoxx and Installing and configuring VirtualBox for virtual OSes) you saw how easy it was to install VirtualBox and then install Windows XP as a virtual machine. The implications of this software are only as limited as the imagination of the user. But there are instances where the install might not look or feel exactly as you would like.
In my default setup of Windows XP, on my particular Ubuntu 9.04 box, the installation of Windows XP rendered a perfectly usable desktop with 32 bit colors in 800x600 resolution. This resolution, of course, is not ideal for some situations (such as Full Screen mode). In order to get a higher resolution, along with other features, you have to install Guest Additions. This is a simple process that can be done quickly and yields a much better user experience than the default. So...let's get to the installation.
Before you attempt to do the installation of the guest additions you have to have your virtual machine up and running. Once that VM is running you will see three menu entries at the top of the window: Machine, Devices, and Help. You want to click on the Devices entry and then click the Install Guest Additions entry (see Figure 1).
What you will see is a warning message instructing you that the Guest Additions CD image could not be found. Fear not, this is normal. Click Yes in order to download the image and then Download to confirm. You will see a progress bar at the bottom left of your VM window.
When that download has finished you will be asked if you want to Mount the image. Click the Mount button to reveal the Sun xVM setup wizard. Click Next in the welcome screen which will take you to the license agreement window. Click the I Agree button (and read the license if you feel so inclined.)
What you are now doing is a fairly straightforward Windows application-like installation. The only "gotcha" during installation will be a warning that the software did not pass the Windows Logo testing. Ignore this warning and click Continue Anyway. Your screen will flicker for a second - don't worry.
You will see this warning another time when it attempts to install software for the pointing devices.
After that warning the installation will complete and, in typical Windows fashion, you will be required to reboot your virtual machine. Do this. When the reboot completes you will find your virtual machine much easier to work with. Now:
- You no longer have to capture the mouse pointer.
- You can set your resolution to a much higher level.
- You can now copy and paste between guest and host operating systems.
- You can run Windows in seamless mode.
Seamless mode is a very interesting trick. What this does is take the elements of Windows out of the VM window and layer them on top of your Linux desktop.
As you can see, in Figure 3, with seamless mode activated all Windows applications have their own window. So in this instance Internet Explorer appears to be running on Linux by itself. And the Windows task bar is resting nicely on top of the GNOME panel.
You toggle between seamless and non-seamless mode by pressing the Hot Key and the "L" key. The default Hot Key is the right Ctrl key.
This is truly some exciting work. With the help of VirtualBox you can, effectively, have your cake and eat it too (as the saying goes.) Work with Windows applications inside of Linux without needing the help of Wine.