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226  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / Re: *NIX: Relatively Minimal Host OS for VirtualBox Use on: March 09, 2014, 07:33:38 AM
In the meantime don't neglect to create a disk image backup of the install.

Out of curiosity do you have a favorite method?  I used Redo Backup for a while but it doesn't seem to be actively developed.

I also went through a similar procedure with Manjaro's Net installation iso with some success:

1. Boot from iso-on-USB
2. Log in as manjaro user (with password as reported on screen)
3. Start installer via sudo setup and proceed to the end appropriately
4. Reboot and log in as a non-root user that can use sudo
5. Using pacman install the following packages: xorg-xinit, xterm, virtualbox, linux310-virtualbox-host-modules (match to linux kernel version), and qt4
6. Add non-root (current) user to vboxusers group
7. Load VirtualBox modules via modprobe vboxdrv
8. Edit $HOME/.xinitrc to exec xterm as last line
9. Start X via startx
10. From the xterm start VirtualBox
11. Test a guest OS

The total disk space used in this case was around 1.5 GB.
227  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / Re: *NIX: Relatively Minimal Host OS for VirtualBox Use on: March 09, 2014, 06:01:45 AM
I got the stable net install iso from Debian and performed the following steps:

1. Boot from iso-on-USB (dd-ed to USB memory)
2. Run the text installer and at the tasksel step unselect everything
3. After rebooting, install the sudo package and add the non-root user to the sudo group (then relogin)
4. Tell apt-get to install the virtualbox and xinit packages and accept the installation of the additional packages
5. Add the non-root user to the vboxusers group
6. Reboot for the VirtualBox modules to load (modprobe might work instead)
7. Log in and use startx to start X
8. From an xterm, start VirtualBox
9. Test run a guest OS

Seemed to work here.

For reference, I think the total disk space used (not including swap) was about 1.3 GB.
228  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / Re: *NIX: Relatively Minimal Host OS for VirtualBox Use on: March 09, 2014, 03:54:08 AM
Start with a Debian net install. Skip the desktop environment and widows manager options and only have it install X.

Once you've got that, do an 'apt-get install virtualbox'. If apt works as advertised (and the VBox config was set up correctly for the repositories) it should also install all the dependencies needed.

I think one might be able to skip specifying the installation of X -- somehow I get the feeling that just doing apt-get install virtualbox will pull X in...wishful thinking?

As you were probably hinting, after installing VirtualBox, I'd guess there may be some things to tweak such as adding certain users to the vboxusers.

Since I dug out a spare machine, may be I'll give this a try.

Quick note: Did some checking - using TinyCore as the host distro is definitely not gonna work.

I came across a thread on their forums with a post indicating someone had managed at some point (though perhaps with an older version of VirtualBox):


Regarding Manjaro, I've now installed it twice -- not much luck with UEFI, but I suspect this has more to do with the specific machine I tried it on (from what I've read, a fair number of Lenovo notebooks seem to have "uncooperative" UEFI implementations).

I think Arch's docs are in better shape (many of which make sense for Manjaro), but Manjaro was much easier on my fingers and time during installation smiley

Manjaro seems to suggest using Pamac or Octopi (roughly GUIs for Arch's packaging tool "pacman") and I'm pretty sure I'd have found those easier to use at first than pacman (though I think pacman is worth learning, I wouldn't want to start there if I had to start over).

I went for the Openbox flavor but it looks like one can choose from:

  Net (bare)

and some other community-created versions:


Hmm, hadn't noticed the Net version...may be I can try out your build-up-from-minimal idea with that as a starting point.
229  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / Re: *NIX: Relatively Minimal Host OS for VirtualBox Use on: March 08, 2014, 08:46:22 AM
That's why I'd just go with a vanilla Debian/Ubu server setup as the base. You could always strip out anything you really didn't want afterwards if size is that important. Then install VBox. Dump a copy of installed packages via synaptic - or use a config backup tool like Aptik and it should be a breeze to build a new one (real or virtual) any time you want. The beauty of this approach is it will autoupdate through the repositories once it's built so that hassle goes away.

I know you said "like Aptik", but just to confirm, Aptik doesn't work with Debian, right?

One thing that I'm a bit fuzzy about is how much cruft might remain from stripping things out -- it's not so much size but not wanting extra services running (more from a security perspective than anything else).  I've had odd experiences trying to get cups-related, portmap/NFS-related, and other things to go away before when trying the "carve away unnecessary things" approach.  It's been a while since I closely examined Debian's default server installation -- do you happen to recall if it has these sorts of things by default?

May be I'll try this sort of approach with Manjaro and try out its remastering capabilities...

Hmm...damn...now you've got me thinking... Grin

Ha ha ha!
230  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / Re: *NIX: Relatively Minimal Host OS for VirtualBox Use on: March 08, 2014, 07:35:16 AM
Thanks for the suggestions smiley

I've made a number of attempts to get Xen working over the years, but without much success...never quite make it far enough.  Have you had good experiences with it?

I'm trying to avoid too many steps during set up (cf. getting Arch and/or Gentoo installed - worth it a few times, but not great if I want to recreate a similar set up from scratch) as well as having VirtualBox or comparable stop working somewhere down the line because of an upgrade...

In the mean time, I tried out Manjaro (with Pamac / Octopi) which was a pleasant surprise -- still a bit rough but looks promising.  There also appears to be some kind of remastering support (ManjaroISO).

Now if DistroWatch.com's "Search Distribution" page would let one specify shipped-by-default packages...
231  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / *NIX: Relatively Minimal Host OS for VirtualBox Use on: March 07, 2014, 04:08:21 PM
Looking for an easy to install (so recognizes hardware well) *NIX -- though light on resources -- to run as a host OS for running VirtualBox guest OSes on top of.

Seen requests like this but usually see suggestions such as "start with some minimal system and just add VirtualBox and a few other things" -- but was hoping that there was an effort that shipped with VirtualBox as am not too keen on maintaining too much of a customized set up and was hoping if it were bundled that it might be better tested / integrated.

Any recommendations / ideas?  Am currently looking through this list but might also consider this list.

Currently trying CrunchBang, but this requires installing VirtualBox after the OS installation.
232  Other Software / Developer's Corner / Re: Niklaus Wirth Birthday Symposium on: March 05, 2014, 06:53:51 PM
He was apparently a Ph.D. advisor (?) for Martin Odersky the creator of the Scala programming language too!

So in the end, I gave up on the idea of joining Borland to write compilers, and went on instead to do a Ph.D with Niklaus Wirth, the inventor of Pascal and Modula-2, at ETH Zurich.

via "The Origins of Scala"
233  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / Re: LINUX: Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) 201403 ISOs just released on: March 05, 2014, 05:51:10 AM
On a side note, concerning resizing windows in Cinnamon, can anyone who has tried the latest LMDE tell whether the commit mentioned at the end of the following made it in?


The corner resize zone, where you have the diagonal resize cursor which allows you to left-click and resize vertically and horizontally at the same time, is extremely small in the upper corners, forcing the user to either use the keyboard modifier or to resize vertical and horizontal separately. Play with the cursor around the upper right corner and you'll see what I mean.

Comparing the date of that commit, it seems that it didn't make it into Petra unfortunately.  I don't notice a difference (in LMDE, that is).
234  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: What the Internet looks like - Undersea cables wiring the ends of the Earth on: March 05, 2014, 01:06:31 AM
Cool stuff!

Thanks all for sharing  thumbs up
235  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process on: March 04, 2014, 05:51:58 PM
Thanks for that follow-up!
236  DonationCoder.com Software / Find And Run Robot / Re: double keypress for hotkey on: March 04, 2014, 05:48:39 PM
IIRC, when bugging mouser about this type of functionality, I think he suggested checking out TapTap Hotkey Extender -- at the time of trial it worked (but it didn't survive across multiple machine transitions, so I haven't had much experience with it recently).
237  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: The Story of Merlin: The 1978 Electronic Game on: March 04, 2014, 12:58:06 AM
Had a Simon at some point - only got to play with a Merlin on a few occasions.
238  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / Re: LINUX: Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) 201403 ISOs just released on: March 03, 2014, 09:21:24 PM
Also, whenever something did go seriously wonky following an upgrade, it was usually fixed within a few days.

That doesn't sound too bad -- though ATM I'm hoping to use it as a host OS from which to run guest OSes via VirtualBox, so if VirtualBox stops working, that doesn't sound so good.

I guess the best way to think about it is to remember you're running Debian rather than Ubuntu with LMDE - with all that implies. If you let that understanding guide your decision and expectations there shouldn't be any bad surprises. If you've had previous experience with Debian you should be fine. If not, you'll possibly need to learn a little more. But learning something new is always a good thing, so no knock there.

Actually although not so much recently, Debian is what I've had the most experience with so that should be ok.  I'd still be using them mostly if I had figured out a satisfactory way to run newer software (for that Arch seems to have worked out -- and Gentoo was ok for that too).  Though performance might suffer a little, am currently leaning toward experimental / new things running in a guest OS.

I looked around a bit for a distribution that tries to provide a minimal environment with VirtualBox but though I've seen queries that seem to ask for that sort of thing I haven't found one that looks good yet.

Addenda: regarding approach...

I have the luxury of having several machines at my disposal. So what I do (and would do even if I only had one machine) is throw a new drive into whatever I'm installing on and go from there. I'll keep a new distro up for a week or two, to see how well it works for me, and decide if I like it. (Just because it works doesn't mean I'll want to spend my workday using it. These days I expect more than "just works" from a distro.)

If it makes it past a few weeks with no major disasters or showstoppers - and find myself using the new distro more and more - it's a keeper. If I really love it, I'll install it on everything. If I just like it, I'll keep it on whatever it's running on and leave the other machines as is. (FWIW I'll usually have two or three distros running on my network at any point in time.) Over time. and with day to day use. there's usually one distro I find myself obviously gravitating towards. That becomes my go-to distro until something I "really like" more comes along. It's kind of an organic approach to distro selection and deployment. But it works for me. YMMV.

Sounds like a decent approach -- I think I'd try that if I had a spare machine.  Perhaps I can just run something as a guest OS for a bit as a partial test in the mean time.

Regarding LMDE though, I guess it's not likely one can transition (settings and all) easily from Petra -- reinstall from scratch is probably a better approach, huh?
239  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / Re: LINUX: Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) 201403 ISOs just released on: March 03, 2014, 07:31:42 PM
But I will be switching over

I'd like to go in that direction too - have you decided on an approach?

I'd like to not have certain programs get pulled out from under though (I have this vague impression that sometimes things leave testing temporarily) -- do you think that could be a potential problem?
240  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / Re: nixCraft: 30 Cool Open Source Software I Discovered in 2013 on: March 03, 2014, 06:48:18 AM
Definitely things here I hadn't heard of.

Thanks for posting smiley

I got the impression that Miro Video Converter seems to be available for Windows and Mac OS X but not any other *NIX...does that seem correct?
241  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / Re: Mint: Temper, temper Mr. Clement Lefebvre on: March 03, 2014, 06:45:59 AM
242  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / Re: LINUX: Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) 201403 ISOs just released on: March 03, 2014, 06:42:35 AM
I'm thinking to try this before long -- just installed Petra as a replacement host OS though so may be next month smiley

Do you already run LMDE?
243  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Animated Map of Girl's Names Throughout the Years on: March 03, 2014, 12:49:38 AM

Very nice!
244  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / *NIX: How to Determine What a Particule Dot-File/Dir is For on: March 02, 2014, 09:38:03 PM
Apart from search engine queries and using the man and apropos commands, anyone know of a specific site or resource that documents various dot files and directories?

I know of places to share dot files (github, dotfiles.org, etc.), but haven't noticed much in the direction of learning what specific one are for.
245  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Gadget WEEKENDS on: March 02, 2014, 06:54:19 PM
For those that are curious, the second extension bar there is bendable, which would let you access some otherwise inaccessible areas.  

I've used that feature once so far and for that case it worked ok.

One thing I'd look for in the future is additional larger attachments -- the largest pieces in this set are a little small for some other screws around the house...including the following recent addition to our household:


Ikea Helmer Cabinet Clone (Amazon Link)

As a side note, found the following "hack" of the cabinet:


Helmer-Air Renderfarm via Article at IkeaHackers.net
246  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Software longevity on: March 02, 2014, 06:25:42 PM
But is any kiddie hacker old enough to remember them?  smiley

I see the smilie here -- so I presume you aren't serious.
247  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Software longevity on: March 02, 2014, 03:41:40 AM
No thanks! Putting my system at risk is not my idea of fun. All of those old versions have exploitable security vulnerabilities...lots of them.  ohmy

Good point!
248  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Gadget WEEKENDS on: March 02, 2014, 01:56:39 AM
Replaced a screwdriver set recently with the following set:


JK 6089C (Amazon Links 1 2)

It far exceeds what I was using before (which was really no good).
249  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Programming/Coder humor on: February 24, 2014, 07:27:56 PM
...there are two hard things in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors.

via bottom of Martin Fowler
250  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: SQRL (Secure Quick Reliable Login) on: February 21, 2014, 10:13:29 PM
Obligatory Wikipedia page.

A ghacks.net article too.
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