Notes on VirtualBox

For the last two years, I've had a work-issued Windows laptop and the sole expectation that it is for email and web browsing. Recently, in a Vader-esque "We have altered the bargain - pray I do not alter it further" situation, I was ordered to actually "do my job" on it instead of using actual tools which let me accomplish my job, because it's more important to use company-issued hardware than to actually do the job. Well, actually, the standards and expectations for the job itself haven't changed - it's just that they've forcibly substituted a suitable tool for this piece of crap and insisted that I get the same job done on an at-best-75%-capable platform.

My previous workflow had been simple: Use VNC on the laptop to connect to a real computer and do my work via said real computer. But now I'm expected to actually use this system. So now I have to screw with VirtualBox.

Display Issues

One of the most user-unfriendly things about trying to use VirtualBox and a local Linux VM, was the fact that no matter what I did the screen was locked to a 4:3 aspect ratio and wasted about 1/3rd of the screen real estate with black bars. "Just install the guest tools!!11 The guest tools do EVERYthing!11!!", wail pretty much all the support and FAQs and forum posts one can find. Here's what I learned:

The guest tools can't do anything for your display if you don't install DKMS. DKMS is a silent pre-req, at least on the Fedora Core 18 VM I'm running. If you don't have this module installed before you install the guest tools, you'll install the guest tools and still be stuck with a 4:3 display. You must first install DKMS, then install the guest tools (reinstall it if you installed 'em first), then reboot, and you will actually get a 16:9 display.

-- Sean Newton - 21 Feb 2014

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Topic revision: r2 - 2014-02-22 - SeanNewton
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