As promised in yesterdays post I’m going to outline today how to setup seamless window integration with Ubuntu and Virtualbox. If you missed yesterday’s post you might want to take a look at the seamless integration screenshot. No, that is not Photoshop’d, its really my desktop. I’ll also outline how to setup a shared folder between the two systems so that the icons and folders available on your XP desktop are available on your Ubuntu dekstop. So lets go ahead and dive in.
If you’ve already got VirtualBox installed you can skip ahead here down to Activating Seamless Integration. If not we’ll be starting you from scratch. Fortunately Ubuntu has packages for VirtualBox available in the repositories. I have a previous post on installing VirtualBox, but we’ll repeat the steps here:
This’ll install VirtualBox Open Source Edition, and should take just a few minutes.
After the installation is finished you’ll need to do just one of the following.
- Add yourself to the vboxdrv group (
sudo usermod -G vboxusers -a username), and then re-login.
- change permissions on the vboxdrv device (
sudo chmod 666 /dev/vboxdrv)
You should now have VirtualBox listed in your Applications menu (Applications > System Tools > Innotek VirtualBox). Go ahead and launch this and install Windows. (I wont get into details on Windows installation, I’m hoping you can figure that much out on your own.)
Activating Seamless Integration
With the release of VirtualBox 1.5.0 (the version you just installed via the Ubuntu repositories) Innotek added the seamless integration feature. This is similar to what is available on Parallels on Mac, allowing you to run individual applications from a virtual environment seamlessly on your native desktop.
Once your guest machine is running and logged in you can activate seamless mode via a shortcut key. Now I want to note that you might double-check to see what your “Host Key” is set to before you dive into this. This proved problematic for me on my MacBook as the default key is right-ctrl, but there is no right-ctrl on the MacBook.
Navigate to (File > Preferences) inside the main VirtualBox window, select the “Input” option and verify or set your “Host” Key” before you go forward.
You’ll also need to install Guest Additions on the Windows guest for this to be available. See the mention in the next section on how to do that.
Once you’re sure what your “Host Key” is, go back into your running Windows guest and activate seamless mode by hitting:
This should make everything but the Start menu disappear, allowing you to launch individual applications as you normally would. You may want to move your bottom gnome panel to the top for better integration.
Configuring Shared Folder Integration
One additional thing you might want to setup is shared folder integration. What I mean by this is having the files from your Ubuntu desktop appear on your Windows desktop as well. This might be useful, for instance, if you launched Internet Exploder via your integrated Start menu and downloaded a file. The saved file would then appear on your native Ubuntu desktop, via the shared folder system.
First we’ll need to install the VirtualBox Guest Additions. I haven’t yet blogged about how to do this on Windows guests, but you might refer to my previous post on Installing Guest Additions for Ubuntu Guests. Hopefully this’ll be enough until I write a proper article on the topic.
Next activate virtual shared folder support in your guest OS (Windows). Do this via the main VirtualBox window, selecting (Machine > Settings > “Shared Folders”). Click the button to add a shared folder (the top right icon), and define the path to your share. You’ll likely want to share your current Desktop, so you might select:
Now, toggling back to your Windows guest, you’ll want to mount this shared folder. You’ll need to open a shell using (Start > Run > “
cmd“). Then use the following command to “mount” this shared folder between your Ubuntu host and your Windows guest.
net use x: \vboxsvrDesktop
You should now have access to your shared folder, but we also want to tell Windows to use this as its primary folder.
regedit via (Start > Run > “
regedit“) and navigate to the following location:
(HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software > Microsoft > Windows > CurrentVersion > Explorer > User Shell Folders)
Look for the key “Desktop” and change the value to:
Save your changes, reboot your Windows guest and you should be done.
I realize this post ended up a bit longer than I expected, but hopefully its comprehensive enough to make it easy to follow. I am really impressed with VirtualBox Open Source Edition, and this even improves my opinion of it!