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)

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:

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

OpenSolaris – Headless server

I’ve moved from a CentOS linux distro running vmware server 2.0 to OpenSolaris running VirtualBox. My previous system was totally headless and i wanted something similar to replace it.

I’ve just started getting into OpenSolaris for many reasons (Sun has some cool stuff – ZFS / VirtualBox). But I have always wanted to run OpenSolaris as a headless server, and from what i initially found VirtualBox didn’t have the easy to use autostart on boot features that vmware server had. But there are always ways to get things working…

OpenSolaris 2008.11 has desktop sharing (system->preferences->desktop sharing) which is half of the job — enable this.

I had issues if i used a password protected session (it kept prompting on the actual console for password to unlock the key chain), so chose not to prompt for password for now. Now every time after you have logged in you are able to connect to your machine via VNC. (veno-server)

The other half of the problem is how to have the machine automatically log on as a user on boot-up. This is easily enabled via /etc/x11/gdm/custom.conf or gdmadmin. See this post for more details on the autologon.

Updated : 26/07/2009

After a bit of playing about I’ve found another way to make opensolaris the perfect headless box. First fire up gdmsetup and enable the required remote sessions.

Go to the “Remote” tab and set the style to “same as local”, then under security ensure that “Deny TCP connections to Xserver” is not checked.

Next go into the services GUI and tick the box next to X server (x11/xvnc-inetd). Next type;

svcs | grep vnc

Disable all vnc services except the one we want to enable (below);

svcadm enable xvnc-inetd

Now to get the vnc session to remain open when you disconnect update the service with the following parameter change;

svccfg -s xvnc-inetd setprop inetd/wait = boolean: true

Reboot. Done.

You should upon reboot be able to vnc straight into the box with a session that wont reset on disconnect.

VirtualBox – Dup on ping

I’ve had this with certain kernels (2009.06) on opensolaris. Seems there is some incompatibility between some kernels and the opensolaris virtualbox network emulation. This only seems to effect linux virtual guests.

When you try to ping an address you get something like this…

[root@VA-DHCPWEB ~]# ping
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=128 time=1.85 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=127 time=1.88 ms (DUP!)

I usually forward a port from my dsl router through to a VM, but it does not like it when the network is performing as above. I’m yet to find a permanent fix other than dropping back a kernel level.

I have no VLANs configured, and just have a single unmanaged switch on a single subnet. There is only a single nic configured on the virtual guest. Found this, but didn’t seem to resolve my issues.

If i ping the IP of the vm host it does not have the DUP packets, so it seems to be anything beyond the host adapter.

Update: This problem seemed to show itself with the new kernel / updates on the 2009.06 release of opensolaris. I’ve reverted back to 2008.11 and all seems to be working fine again. It may have something to do with project crossbow (new virtualization around the networking space)

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. 



logon and check your time; 



OpenSolaris – Autologon

There are two ways to setup the auto login for OpenSolaris (2008.11);

One – You can fire up the GUI using gdmsetup. Update : this didnt actually work when i tried it recentely – it might not be in this release of opensolaris.

Two – go to /etc/x11/gdm/custom.conf (in newer releases its just /etc/gdm/custom.conf) and manually modify the required fields in the [daemon] section and add the following;


Note: You cannot auto-logon as root.

Bare in mind that I’m not concerned about security at this point as the box is not exposed to the open world, and is somewhat protected by the fact it lives on a “private” LAN. (i.e. my home lan)

If you want to run something automatically on logon you can put the commands into the /etc/profile file. Since I’ve been looking for a way to autostart virtualbox machines this will be the place i do it. (mainly because it is one of the easiest way to do it)

I have two machines “Test” and “Test2” which i start by adding the following commands to the end of the /etc/profile file;   (vrdp port set to 3395, 3396)

Sleep 10 – just to give logon a bit of time to recover (all services to start etc). Might be easier to use timed logon instead for this one as all terminal (ssh) sessions also incur the delay.

gnome-terminal -e “VBoxHeadless -s Test -p 3395”

sleep 2 – delay between starting vms

gnome-terminal -e “VBoxHeadless -s Test2 -p 3396”

touch ~/imadeit – i use this just to check it makes it to the end of the script o.k.

I’m just looking to see if there is a nice way to initiate the shutdown when the box is rebooted.