VirtualBox – crashing / freezing

I’ve had some problems since my upgrade to virtualbox 2.2.0 on OpenSolaris. After some time all of my linux boxes seem to just die. The virtual machine just stops responding. Strangely there was no problem with my windows vms after the update.

From what i can tell it looks like the upgrade turned off “IO APIC” – this is the bit that seemed to cause the problem. Re-enabling this on all of my linux boxes seems to have fixed the problem. I’ll continue testing for another week and update this post if any problems re-occur.

Updated : 01/09/2009

Here is a bit more on IO APIC from the virtualbox wiki…  (from a windows perspective)
http://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Migrate_Windows

The hardware dependent portion of the Windows kernel is dubbed “Hardware Abstraction Layer” (HAL). While hardware vendor specific HALs have become very rare, there are still a number of HALs shipped by Microsoft. Here are the most common HALs (for more information, refer to this article: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/309283):

Hal.dll (Standard PC)
Halacpi.dll (ACPI HAL)
Halaacpi.dll (ACPI HAL with IO APIC)

If you perform a Windows installation with default settings in VirtualBox, Halacpi.dll will be chosen as VirtualBox enables ACPI by default but disables the IO APIC by default. A standard installation on a modern physical PC or VMware will usually result in Halaacpi.dll being chosen as most systems nowadays have an IO APIC and VMware chose to virtualize it by default (VirtualBox disables the IO APIC because it is more expensive to virtualize than a standard PIC). So as a first step, you either have to enable IO APIC support in VirtualBox or replace the HAL. Replacing the HAL can be done by booting the VM from the Windows CD and performing a repair installation.

Updated : 5/09/2009

I’ve had even more problems with opensolaris crashing completely after upgrading to the newer versions of virtualbox (3.0.4), and have since reverted back to 2.2.0 which has fixed alot of the hanging issues i have encountered

Linux – Add DHCP and DNS

How to install DHCP and DNS on Fedora / Centos / Redhat box;

yum -y install dhcp.i386 bind.i386

Set services to auto start using ntsysv — services are called “dhcpd” and “named”.

How to configure dhcp;

nano /etc/dhcpd.conf — configure as per sample provided. The sample is usually located in the same directory.
service dhcpd restart – should start without problem if done correctly

Note: dhcp range has to be on the same network as your adapter. You can run dhcpd from the command line to diagnose any issues.

How to configure bind (DNS);

I usually just forward DNS requests to my internal router. To do this just edit /etc/resolve.conf and place the following line in the file;

nameserver 192.168.9.1

Use your ip above then all should be good. Test by pinging a domain like www.yahoo.com etc… You should get an ip back even if you don’t get successful pings (due to firewall etc). nslookup is also another quick and easy way to check DNS requests.

Linux – Installing VirtualBox additions

The following works on CentOs / Fedora / redhat etc… 

Logon to your distro. The packages you need are the kernel-devel.i686, kernel.i686 (if not the latest), and gcc.i386 (complier)

yum -y install kernel.i686 gcc.i386

reboot as the kernel needs to load, then logon again install the kernel dev; 

yum -y install kernel-devel.i686

Now you want to present the virtualbox additions to the cdrom drive on your distro. Click “install additions” on the virtualbox guest console. 

then back on the box mount the cdrom to a directory (make one if you dont have one avail) 

mkdir /mnt/cdrom

mount /dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom 

Now go to the newly mounted cdrom drive and find the installation;

cd /mnt/cdrom 

Execute the installer, and if all goes well reboot. Services should auto start and sync your time etc. 

./VBoxLinuxAdditions-x86.run

reboot

logon and check your time; 

date

Done.

Linux – crontab

Time to schedule some tasks!

First you need to make sure your in the /etc/cron.d/cron.allow file. If you are not SU to root and add yourself into it.

Now to create your new crontab file;

crontab -e

You are in vi in your newly created crontab file (note if you do not have access to do this it will say so)

Now, i’m no expert at using vi, but if you press i you will go into insert mode. Do this, then type the cron job details. A typical cron job will look like this

0 4 * * * /export/home/user/backup.sh

so there are five slots before the command you want to run. They are: min, hour, day, month, day-week. So my example above will run at 4am every day. See below for more detail.

once you have entered the line press ESC then type :wq to save and quit.

To confirm the job has been saved successfully in cron type this command;

crontab -l  this will show you your current scheduled tasks, it should output the above job.

In OpenSolaris the crontab files are located at /var/spool/cron/crontabs/ they are named after the specific user. Sometimes its easier to go there than to use vi, but make sure your permissions are all set correctly before editing any system files.

In some distros there are folders like /etc/cron.daily/ which run any scripts inside them on a schedule matching the folder name.

This is a bit more on the format of the 5 timings within the crontab file;

*     *   *   *    *  command to be executed

|     |     |     |     |
|     |     |     |     +—– day of week (0 – 6) (Sunday=0)
|     |     |     +——- month (1 – 12)
|     |     +——— day of month (1 – 31)
|     +———– hour (0 – 23)
+————- min (0 – 59)

Update

@reboot is also another very handy cron modifier. I use the following quite a lot…
@reboot /bin/sleep 600 ; /path/to/your/[email protected] /bin/sleep 600 ; /path/to/your/your_program