Configuring VirtualBox Virtual Machine Settings
Once a VirtualBox virtual machine has been created there are a number of configuration settings which can be configured or altered. In fact, the settings configured while using the New Virtual Machine wizard represent only a subset of the settings which can be configured on a virtual machine. Perhaps the most significant setting for a new virtual machine is the addition of a CD/DVD drive so that the guest operating system can be installed. Both this and other settings are the topic of this chapter.
Accessing Virtual Machine Settings
The settings for a virtual machine are accessed using the main VirtualBox application (for details on launching VirtualBox refer to the Creating and Managing VirtualBox Virtual Machines chapter of this book).
Once loaded, the left hand pane of the VirtualBox tool lists currently configured virtual machines. To view the settings of a virtual machine, select it from the list and either click on the Settings button located in the toolbar, or select the Machine->Settings... menu option. Access to the virtual machine settings is disabled when the virtual machine is running or saved.
When invoked, the Settings dialog will appear as follows:
The left hand pane of the settings dialog lists different categories. The main pane displays the settings relating to the currently selected category and allows these settings to be modified.
Virtual Machine General Settings
The General category of virtual machine settings consists of four groups of settings arranged on tabbed pages labeled Basic, Advanced, Description and Other:
The basic settings page allows the name, guest operating system type, base memory and the amount of memory assigned to the virtual graphics adapter for the selected virtual machine to be altered.
This page also provides the option to enable OpenGL accelerated 3D graphics for the video adapter. Note that this feature requires that the VirtualBox Guest Additions be installed on the guest operating system (see Understanding and Installing VirtualBox Guest Additions for more details).
The Advanced page allows the following settings to be configured:
- Boot Order - Specifies the order in which the virtual machine will search storage devices and the network (using PXE) to locate a bootable operating system image.
- Enable ACPI - Enables and disables Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) support for the virtual machine allowing the guest operating system to perform power management tasks on the virtual machine's virtual devices and hardware.
- Enable I/O APIC - Enables support for Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controllers (ACIP). This latest generation of interrupt controllers eliminate the 16 Interrupt Request (IRQ) limit present in old Programmable Interface Controllers (PIC). I/O APIC must be enabled when installing 64-bit guest operating systems.
- Enable VT-x/AMD-V - Defines whether VirtualBox will take advantage of the hardware virtualization features present in Intel-VT and AMD-V capable processors. For more details on this topic refer to the chapter entitled An Overview of VirtualBox 2. Note that if hardware virtualization is enabled for one virtual machine it must be enabled for all other concurrently running virtual machines on the host.
- Enable Nested Paging - Controls whether the Nested Paging feature of hardware virtualization capable CPUs is enabled for the virtual machine.
- Enable PAE/NX - Enables or disables Physical Address Extension and NX for the virtual machine when these features are supported by the host hardware. The purpose of this feature is to allow operating systems to access more than 4GB of memory. In practice this option is only provided for compatibility with some operating systems and does not actually increase the amount of memory available to the virtual machine when enabled.
- Shared Clipboard - When VirtualBox Guest Additions are installed in the guest operating system, this setting controls how clipboard data is shared between the guest and the host. In Bi-directional mode, clipboard data is automatically shared between the host and the guest. In Host to Guest mode, only the host's clipboard data is shared with the guest (data saved to the guest clipboard is not visible to the host). Conversely, Guest to Host makes only the guest data available to the host.
- IDE Controller - Changes the type of IDE hardware controller presented to the guest operating system. Useful when adding a virtual disk created by a competing virtualization product which may have used a different virtual IDE controller.
- Snapshot Controller - Allows the location of snapshot files to be defined.
The description page allows a description of the virtual machine to provided. This setting is optional.
The Other page provides the opportunity to configure the virtual machine to remember what media was mounted last time the virtual machine ran, and to remount that media on the next run.
Hard Disk Settings
Selecting the Hard Disks category in the list displays the following settings page:
The first setting on this screen provides the option to enable a SATA controller. The page also lists the currently configured virtual disk drives and the virtual controllers to which they are attached. VirtualBox presents two virtual IDE controllers to each virtual machine. Each controller has a primary and a slave slot. The primary connection of the second controller is reserved for the CD/DVD drive leaving three slots available for attaching virtual disk drives to the virtual machine. If additional disk drives are required, enabling the SATA controller will allow more disks to be added but will require a guest operating system with SATA support.
To add new hard disks, either click on the top button on the right hand side of the page (displaying an icon consisting of disk drives and a plus sign), right click on any of the empty space in the list pane and select Add Attachment from the menu or press the Ins key on the keyboard. A new disk drive may then be added, either by attaching an existing disk to creating a new disk image using the Create New Virtual Disk wizard.
Existing attachments may be removed by selecting the disk drive from the list and clicking on the Remove Attachment button, right clicking on any of the empty space in the list pane and select Remove Attachment from the menu, or pressing the Del key on the keyboard.
Detaching a virtual disk from a controller does not delete the virtual disk. To delete virtual disks, click on the third button to the right of the list (the folder with the green up arrow) to launch the Virtual Media Manager where virtual disks may be deleted if required.
Refer to Understanding and Configuring VirtualBox Virtual Hard Disks for more detailed information on this topic.
When selected, the CD/DVD-ROM category displays the following screen:
If a CD or DVD device is to be made available to the guest operating system, the Mount CD/DVD Drive option must first be selected. Once selected, the remaining options on the screen are enabled. The CD/DVD device presented to the virtual machine may be in the form of a physical device connected to the host, or an ISO image file visible to the host operating system. In the case of an ISO image, the file must be added to the media library using the Virtual Media Manager before it can be attached to a virtual machine. To access the Virtual Media Manager, click on the button located to the right of the ISO image file menu.
When using a physical device connected to the host, the option is also available to Enable Passthrough. This option allows the guest operating system to send ATAPI commands directly to the physical device so that CD/DVD writers can be used from within the virtual machine.
When selected, the Floppy category displays the following screen:
If a floppy device is to be made available to the guest operating system the Mount Floppy Drive option must first be selected. Once selected, the remaining options on the screen are enabled. The floppy device presented to the virtual machine may be in the form of a physical device connected to the host, or an ISO image file visible to the host operating system. In the case of an ISO image, the file must be added to the media library using the Virtual Media Manager before it can be attached to a virtual machine. To access the Virtual Media Manager, click on the button located to the right of the ISO image file menu.
The Audio settings screen (shown below) configures whether a sound card is presented to the guest operating system at run time.
When audio is enabled, VirtualBox provides the option for a virtual Intel ICH AC90 or a Creative Labs Sounds Blaster 16 sound card to be configured in the virtual machine. For Linux guests, PulseAudio, OSS and ALSO options are also available.
The Host Audio Driver setting controls whether the sound is directed to the audio system of the host computer (so that it is heard) or sent to a Null driver so that it is not heard on the host.
The Network settings screen allows up to four network adapters to be configured on the virtual machine. Additional adapters (up to a total of eight) can be configured using the VBoxManage command-line tool. By default, a single network adapter is enabled for new virtual machines using NAT to access the network (whereby the virtual machine accesses the network using a network adapter installed in the host, but appears to other computers on the network using the same IP address as the host).
VirtualBox networking is covered in detail in the chapter entitled Configuring VirtualBox Networking.
Serial Port Settings
VirtualBox allows up to two serial ports to be added to virtual machines using the Serial Port settings screen:
A virtual serial port may be either disconnected, connected to the physical port of the host computer or connected to a software pipe on the host operating system.
VirtualBox provides virtual machines with an optional virtual USB controller which in turn gives the guest operating system access to select USB devices connected to the host computer. This USB controller is enabled by selecting the Enable USB Controller option at the top of the USB settings screen:
The settings screen also provides the option to enable USB 2.0 (ECHI) support. Once USB support is enabled, the physical USB devices which are to made available to the guest operating system are controlled by creating filters. These filters are added and removed using the buttons in the vertical toolbar located on the right hand side of the list area.
The top button creates a filter which makes all USB devices available to the guest operating system. The second button displays a list of USB devices currently attached to the host computer and creates a filter for the device selected from the list. The third button allows properties of the currently selected filter to be edited (such as the filter name, device vendor ID, product ID and manufacturer).
The fourth button removes the selected filter from the list and the bottom two button move position of the selected filter up and down in the list.
To deactivate a USB filter without deleting it, simply deselect the checkbox next to the filter name in the list.
VirtualBox shared folders allows folders to be shared between guest and host operating systems. Shared folders require that VirtualBox Guest Additions be installed on the guest and are covered in more detail in the VirtualBox Shared Folders chapter of this book.
Remote Display Settings
The Remote Display settings screen allows VRDP remote access to the guest virtual machine to be configured and enabled. This allows remote access to the desktop of a guest virtual machine using any Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) client.
For more details on this topic refer to Remote Access to VirtualBox Guests.