Thursday, December 10, 2009

How to install Jolicloud in a VirtualBox

I ran across Jolicloud today as I surfed around the internet. It sounded like a competitor to Google's Chromium operating system and sounded interesting. Just for investigation purposes, I wanted to install it in a VirtualBox virtual machine so went to Jolicloud's download page. It gave a page of instructions that indicated I needed to download an operating system specific application and an ISO file. The application would use the ISO file build a bootable thumb drive. This drive could then install Jolicloud on the target notebook.

Not wanting to go through this hassle for a virtual machine, nor knowing if I could even boot a virtual machine with a thumb drive, I searched for instructions for a non-thumb drive install. I found several sites but apparently, they were for an earlier build that had some other bootstrap process. They mentioned using an .img file (which the current download doesn't have) and going through a number of different steps to convert it to something the VirtualBox software could read. These directions didn't seem to be appropriate for the current version. (These sites indicated they were for an Alpha release that required an invitation. At the time of this writing, the version is a PreBeta and does not require an invitation.)

I let the problem percolate in the back of my brain for a bit as I worked on other things. At some point, I realized the current build uses an ISO file. I wondered, "What are the odds that image is bootable?" Figuring the odds were good, I downloaded all 600 megabytes of it.

When the download finished, I used VirtualBox's normal creation wizard to create a simple virtual machine (512MB memory, 4GB virtual hard drive, Ethernet bridged to the host's NIC). I mounted the ISO image as the CD drive and set it as the boot drive with the virtual, empty hard drive second. When I started the machine, it booted just fine and presented a standard startup screen giving me several options, one of which was to install to the hard drive. From this point on, it proceeded as a typical install. The only things the install wanted from me were the language, keyboard layout, time zone and user information. When done, it shutdown. I unmounted the ISO file from the CD drive and turned the machine back on. Everything seems to be working perfectly so far. For whatever it's worth, it does seem to be faster than Chromium running in another, identically configured virtual machine.

That's it. Very painless. Everything just worked.
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