RemoteBox - A VirtualBox Client

Virtualization is becoming a technology trend. The need of resource efficiency, energy efficiency and save money are one of the main reasons why we need virtualization. Virtualization is intended to servers or data centers. But now, users can also try or enjoy virtualization with VirtualBox.

VirtualBox is free and it is intended for those who want to try virtualization on desktop machines. It can run on Linux, *BSD and Mac OS X operating system. If you want, you can also install it on your Development or QA servers. But please be aware that VirtualBox is not recommended to be used in Production servers because VirtualBox is not an enterprise level software for virtualization.

What is RemoteBox

When you install VirtualBox, usually you have to remote the host machine via VNC or Remote Desktop method and operate VirtualBox. Now, with RemoteBox software, you can manage and operate VirtualBox without need to VNC / RDP to the host machine. This allows you to treat VirtualBox as you treat Xen, KVM or VMware ESX. To make a clearer view, here’s a picture from it’s documentation.

RemoteBox schema

Features

RemoteBox has a lot of features. Here are the some list of it :

  • Open source VirtualBox client with a graphical (GTK) interface
  • Remote management of VirtualBox and its guests
  • No web server such as Apache or IIS is required to run RemoteBox
  • No compilation if required
  • View and interact with the guest’s display via RDP, including sound
  • Create and edit guests
  • Configure processor, display, input devices, audio, I/O port and shared folders
  • Attach USB devices and USB device filters
  • Stop, start, pause and save guest states
  • Provision and attach storage including harddisks, CDs/DVDs and floppy disks
  • Configure networking including host only networks with DHCP servers
  • Supports guest snapshots
  • Compatible with VirtualBox running on Linux, Windows, Mac OS X and Solaris
    1. How to install RemoteBox on Linux machine

      Before you install RemoteBox, please make sure that you have installed packages below.

    2. Perl v.5.8 or newer
    3. gtk2-perl
    4. SOAP::Lite perl module v0.710.10 or newer
    5. And RDP client if you want to connect to remote display of guests. The rdesktop client is enabled by default but other clients can be used
    6. VirtualBox 4.3.x
    7. The Oracle Extension Pack
      1. Installation steps

        In this article, we are using Ubuntu 12.04 LTS as a server and Linux Mint 15 as a client.

        Server Side

        Install VirtualBox

        To get the newest version of VirtualBox, we download VirtualBox 4.3.4 version from its download page.

        Then use dpkg command to install it.

        $ sudo dpkg -i virtualbox-4.3_4.3.4-91027~Ubuntu~precise_i386.deb

        Install Oracle Extention Pack (optional)

        If you want to display Guest OS using remote desktop then you need to install Oracle Extension Pack. This extension pack can be downloaded at its download page. After that, install it.

        $ sudo VBoxManage extpack install Oracle_VM_VirtualBox_Extension_Pack-4.3.4-91027.vbox-extpack

        Configure VirtualBox Web Service

        Create VirtualBox configuration file

        $ sudo vi /etc/default/virtualbox

        Type these parameter

        VBOXWEB_USER=”virtual”
        VBOXWEB_TIMEOUT=0
        VBOWWEB_LOGFILE=”/var/log/vboxwebservice.log”
        VBOXWEB_HOST=”192.168.0.108”

        All these parameters can be adjusted to the environment you have.

        Create the users and group

        We are using user named virtual as a VBOXWEB_USER. So we need to make sure that we have that user. If we don’t, create the user.

        $ sudo adduser virtual

        Give the user password.

        $ sudo passwd virtual

        Don’t forget to create VirtualBox group

        $ sudo groupadd vboxusers

        Create VirtualBox log file and set the right owner

        $ sudo touch vi /var/log/vboxwebservice.log

        $ sudo chown virtual:vboxuser /var/log/vboxwebservice.log

        Please notice that this log must exist and have a right ownership otherwise the web service will fail to start.

        Enable the service to start automatically on boot

        $ sudo update-rc.d -f vboxweb-service enable

        This step will be various between Linux distribution. Please consult your Linux documentation.

        Start the service

        $ sudo /etc/init.d/vboxweb-service start

        If it succeed you will have a message like

        SQPmp Socket connection successful: host = 192.168.0.108 port = 18083, master socket 9

        in your /var/log/vboxwebservice.log file.

        Client Side

        Install required packages

        $ sudo apt-get install libgtk2-perl libsoap-lite-perl rdesktop

        Install RemoteBox

        RemoteBox is available in several version. This article use RemoteBox 1.6 with tar.gz format. After we download it, just extract the file.

        $ sudo tar zxfv RemoteBox-1.6.tar.gz

        Running RemoteBox

        We don’t need to install RemoteBox. Let say you extract the file into /home/apps/RemoteBox-1.6 . Then to run it, just type :

        $ cd /home/apps/RemoteBox-1.6

        $ ./remotebox

        If it work, then you will see RemoteBox main window :

        RemoteBox main window

        Add a Guest OS

        To add guest OS, you can click New icon. Or go to Machine > New. Then, fill the attributes as you need. On this article, we try to install Linux Fedora 19. Below is a sample screenshot.

        Create VM

        Once it done, you need to attach an .iso image which contain your guest OS installer. Otherwise you will see an error message like this when tried to install it.

        No medium found

        To attach an .iso image, this time we will do it manually. Here are the steps :

      2. Right click the VMs name
      3. Choose Settings
      4. Once the Settings dialog box is open the go to Storage tab
      5. Click the Empty Drive attribute
      6. On the left bottom, you will see an icon with plus sign. Click on that icon then choose CDs/DVDs then choose Fedora 19 image
      7. Next you can click OK button
        1. Choose image to attach

          After that, you can start to install Fedora VM again. Just choose Fedora VM then click Start button.

          fedora install

          Below is a screenshot after Fedora 19 VM installed and running on the remote computer.

          Fedora running

          Conclusion

          The advantage of VirtualBox are its free and offer a complete features about virtualization. But once again, VirtualBox is not design for Production environment. Virtualbox purpose seems to be to those who want to try virtualization. So you can use it on development or testing environment to gain experience about virtualization. Now with RemoteBox, the experience about it will more complete. Please visit RemoteBox website and its documentation to explore more detail about it.

          Pungki Arianto 4:56 pm

          About Pungki Arianto

          Pungki , currently working as a Linux / Unix administrator for a banking company. He love to work in Linux / Unix since it’s fun for him. He is also interested in information technology, information security and writing.

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