VirtualSummary

[I started writing this entry months ago, but never got around to finishing it.]

After a few months of running Ubuntu as a VirtualBox on a Windows host, I’ve got most of the kinks ironed out. To summarize:

  1. Screen resolution: see previous post.
  2. Mouse: see previous post. Once you’ve install the correct driver, it works beautifully. The mouse pointer is synchronized between the host and the guest, so it doesn’t jump when you switch back and forth, and if your guest runs in a window rather than full-screen, you can move smoothly and seamlessly from the guest to the host without having to click or press anything.
  3. Clock: ouch. No matter what you do, it will get out of synch, and ntpd will eventually give up on it. The only solution I can think of is to replace ntpd with something else that can be coerced into accepting large deltas. Luckily, the clock will always be late, never early.
  4. Network: whoa boy…

Networking is not VirtualBox’s strong point. It has a built-in DHCP server, so in theory, it’s just plug and play, but in practice, it works like shit—especially if, like me, your host is a laptop. VirtualBox reads the host’s DNS settings just once, at startup, and so when you move from one network to another, it will still serve you the old DNS setup.

The solution I found is to disable roaming in the guest and configure a static IP address (10.0.2.15/24) and gateway (10.0.2.2). These are the settings VirtualBox uses for NATed guests; the IP address and gateway will be the same at all times in every guest. Finally, install unbound and point resolv.conf at 127.0.0.1.

I use the following unbound.conf:

server:
        verbosity: 1
        interface: 127.0.0.1
        access-control: 127.0.0.0/8 allow
        do-ip6: no

However, the defaults are just fine; in Ubuntu, you can simply do:

# apt-get install unbound
# echo "nameserver 127.0.0.1" >/etc/resolv.conf

and forget about it.

Now, if only they could fix the keyboard issues… it seems VirtualBox sometimes drops or reorders key events: sometimes a key will start repeating, or a mode key (Ctrl, Alt etc.) will get “stuck” until you press it again. My guess is that VirtualBox either sends the “key up” event before the “key down” event, or just drops it altogether. There have been three or four dot releases since I first started using VirtualBox, and I keep hoping the next one will fix this bug, but no luck so far…

2 thoughts on “VirtualSummary

  1. A note about unbound: some “personal firewall” software (e.g. F-Secure Internet Shield) may block your guest’s DNS traffic. I haven’t yet figured out how to fix this, other than by disabling the firewall. Windows XP’s own firewall is fine, though.

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