Setting up VirtualBox to run Scientific Linux

Setting up VirtualBox to run Scientific Linux

Oracle VirtualBox is a virtualisation solution that is freely available for MacOS, Windows and Linux. Follow these instructions to set up a VirtualBox Virtual Machine (VM) so that you can run a Scientific Linux VM inside your existing operating system installation. Note that these instructions assume that your VM host is running a 64-bit operating system on your computer. If you are not, you need to select 32-bit options in VirtualBox and in the choice of the installation media that you use.

  1. Download and install VirtualBox as per the instructions on the VirtualBox web site.

  2. Once you have VirtualBox installed, run VirtualBox. You will be greeted with a screen that looks like this: VB-1_VirtualBoxWelcome Select New to create a New VM.

  3. You will be shown the Virtual Machine creation wizard. The first page of this wizard asks that you choose a name for the VM and an operating system type. Choose an appropriate name and select Type Linux and Version Red Hat (64 bit). VB-2_VirtualBox-NameAndOs When you select the Next button you will be asked to choose the memory (RAM) to allocate to the VM.

  4. The VM will use a proportion of the memory of the physical machine that is hosting it, so when choosing an appropriate Memory size you should consider both the total available RAM on your machine, and the needs of the operating (Scientific Linux) that will be running in the VM. VirtualBox provides a colour-coded indicator suggesting how much of your host machine’s RAM you can safely allocate. Scientific Linux requires at least 512 MB of RAM to run comfortable, and 1 GB or more is preferred. VB-3_VirtualBox-MemorySize After selecting an appropriate memory size select Next to move on to Hard Disk configuration.

  5. Your VM will use a Virtual Hard Drive, that is a file on disk that appears, from the VMs perspective, to be a normal Hard Drive. VB-4_VirtualBox-HardDrive1 Select the the option to Create a virtual hard drive now and select Create to move to the next dialog.

  6. VirtualBox can use a number of different Virtual Hard Drive formats. Select the first option (VDI) VB-5_VirtualBox-HardDrive2 and then select Next to move on to the next step, where you will choose the way that space is allocated for your Virtual Hard Drive.

  7. You can either pre-allocate disk space for the Virtual Hard Drive and thus give the drive a Fixed Size or allow the drive to grow on disk as it fills up. In general this second choice, a Dynamically allocated Virtual Hard Drive, is acceptable and allows for faster creation of the VM. VB-6_VirtualBox-HardDrive3 Once the decision about allocation policy is made, you can move on to the decide on the size of the Virtual Hard Drive by selecting Next.

  8. The next dialog allows you to choose the filename to store the Virtual Hard Drive and the maximum size of the Virtual Hard Drive on disk. VB-7_VirtualBox-HardDrive4 The Scientific Linux operating system requires at least 5 GB of hard disk space, and depending on the data stored in the VM, more disk space might be needed, so choose an appropriate Virtual Hard Disk size. In this example, 20 GB was allocated for the Virtual Hard Disk. Once this has been done, choose Create to create the Virtual Hard Disk.

  9. Once the hard disk has been created, your VM creation is complete. You will be returned to the main VirtualBox window. Now you need to adjust some settings, do this by selecting your newly created VM and clicking the Settings button, as show in this picture. VB-9_VirtualBox-Settings This will open the Settings dialog where you can adjust some Network and Storage settings.

  10. By default, VirtualBox attaches the VM to a virtual router and performs Network Address Translation (NAT) to make network traffic from the VM appear to originate from the host machine. For our experimentation, we want the VM to be on the same network as the host machine, so we need to go to the Network settings and attach the VMs network to a “Bridged Adapter”. For this to work we need to choose which network address on our host machine will provide the gateway to the outside world. In this example, I’ve chosen the host machine’s wireless interface, wlan0. VB-8_VirtualBox-Network The next item that needs configuring is the installation media used for installing Scientific Linux. Right now the VM we have created has no operating system, and if we try and boot it, we’ll get this message: VB-10_VirtualBox-SystemHalted So we need to “insert” a DVD into the VMs virtual DVD drive. That is located in the Storage configuration.

  11. In the Storage settings, select the Empty DVD drive, and select the pull down menu that is shown to the right of the drive settings. Choose the option to Choose a virtual CD/DVD disk file. VB-10_VirtualBox-ChooseISO The virtual DVD to choose is the .iso image of the Scientific Linux Install DVD.

  12. The final step in setting up VirtualBox is to choose the Scientific Linux Install DVD image, as is shown in this image: VB-12_VirtualBox-ChooseInstallISO This completes the VirtualBox setup. You can now close the Settings window and select Start to run the VM and start the Scientific Linux install.

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