John Bokma

Running Ubuntu 17.04 on VirtualBox with Shared Folders

June 26, 2017

Introduction

Today I decided to create a new Ubuntu 17.04 virtual machine. I had already made one a few weeks ago, but not really happy with the disk size I had selected; too much. Nor was I happy with mounting shared folders via rc.local, see Mounting VirtualBox Shared Folders. This time I wanted to mount those folders by adding lines to /etc/fstab.

On 16.04 I had some odd issues with MySQL in combination with VirtualBox shared folders. Issues that gave the impression that somehow the database got corrupted. I haven't been able to pin point the cause yet. To play safe, on 17.04 I didn't use a shared folder for the database files, hence the larger disk size. But on this new install I want to check this out once more, and hopefully find out what is causing this.

I prefer to use Shared Folders because I can edit my files on either the host or guest without having to transfer them first. Moreover, Time Machine takes care of the backup of those files and the much smaller virtual disk image.

Dowloading and verifying Ubuntu 17.04

I visted the Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) release page and downloaded the 64-bit PC (AMD64) desktop image. As I am running VirtualBox on a Mac mini I used shasum to verify its integrity:

$ shasum -a 256 ubuntu-17.04-desktop-amd64.iso 
b718c7fb1066589af52f4ba191775b0fb514c5fb6fa7d91367043e1db06d8a0b  ubuntu-17.04-d
esktop-amd64.iso

The result reported is identical to the first result in Zesty's SHA256SUMS file.

Creating the Ubuntu Zesty Zapus Virtual Machine

I started VirtualBox and activated the New (blue sun) icon to start the creation of a new virtual machine. I entered/selected the following values in the "Name and operating system" dialog and activated the Continue button:

The name for this virtual machine was taken from the Cadwal Chronicles by Jack Vance. A trilogy I highly recommend to read, if you like to read science fiction.

Because my 2014 Mac Mini has 16 GB of memory and I want to use this virtual machine for development, in the "Memory size" dialog I entered 8192 MB, or half of the maximum available. I activated the Continue button to move on to the next step.

In the "Hard disk" dialog I left the default, "Create a virtual hard disk now", selected and activated the "Create" button.

In the "Hard disk file type" dialog I lef the default, "VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image)", selected and activated the "Continue" button.

In the "Storage on physical hard disk" dialog I left the default, "Dynamically allocated", selected and activated the "Continue" button.

In the "File location and size" dialog I only changed the default size of 10.00 GB into 12G and activated the "Create" button.

Futher Configuration of the Virtual Machine

After I had created the virtual machine I had to do some additional configuring. With the new virtual machine selected I activated the Settings (yellow cog) icon.

Note, while you can create Shared Folders in the "Shared Folders" pane I created them on the command line, as explained below.

Installing Ubuntu 17.04

Start the Ubuntu Virtual machine by activating the Start (green arrow) icon. With English selected, I activated the large "Install Ubuntu" button that showed up after a short while.

In the next step I ticked "Download updates while installing Ubuntu" and activated the "Continue" button.

In the next step I left the default "Erase disk and install Ubuntu" selected and activated the "Install Now" button. Note that this is the virtual hard disk created earlier and not the host's hard disk and hence no data will be lost.

I activated "Continue" in the "Write changes to disk" dialog.

Next, Ubuntu guessed the time zone correctly so I just activated "Continue" without making any changes once more.

In the next step I changed my keyboard layout to English (US) - English (US) as English is the language I used the most on my computer, instead of Spanish. Next, I activated the "Continue" button. Note that if, like on my system, there is no such button you have to make the window of the virtual machine larger by stretching it to the right.

In the next step I entered my name, computer name (ecce), and password. My username was correctly obtained from my first name. I activated "Continue" to finally start the actual installation process, which took less than 3 minutes. I restarted the virtual machine as requested, and pressed Enter as requested somewhat later.

Installing the Guest Additions

Virtual Guest additions are required to make Shared Folders work. So after the restart I logged into the virtual machine for the very first time.

In the menu bar of the virtual machine under Devices I activated the "Insert Guest Additions CD image...". A dialog window opened asked if I would like to run it. I activated the "Run" button. Next, I had to enter my super user password in order to install the Guest additions. When the installation was done, I ejected the CD and restarted the virtual machine.

Now, with the guest additions installed, I changed the resolution of the Ubuntu virtual machine to 1920 x 1200 (full screen).

After the installation I restarted the virtual machine, inserted the Guest Additions CD, ran the installer, and restarted the machine once more. Note that the Guest Additions are required for shared folders. Moreover, it allows me to run the Ubuntu desktop in 1920 x 1200 full screen.

Setting up the Mount Points on the Guest

Next, I created the required mount points on the guest machine:

mkdir -p ~/{.my-local,Amber,mysql-dumps}
mkdir -p ~/Public/GoodReader/
sudo mkdir /var/lib/mysql
sudo mkdir -p /home/svn/

I use .my-local for perlbrew and to store some other programs. My work is stored in the Amber directory. Back in 1994 when I started my own company I named it 'Castle Amber', hence the name.

For this set up I also want to share the MySQL database files and my subversion directory. Although I switched to git years ago I now and then need to work on an old project, and convert it from svn to git.

Setting up Shared Folders on the Host

I stopped the virtual and ran the follow commands on the command line of the host machine:

VBoxManage sharedfolder add "Ecce 17.04" --name ".my-local" \
           --hostpath /Users/john/.my-local
VBoxManage sharedfolder add "Ecce 17.04" --name "Amber" \
           --hostpath /Users/john/Amber
VBoxManage sharedfolder add "Ecce 17.04" --name "Documents" \
           --hostpath /Users/john/Documents
VBoxManage sharedfolder add "Ecce 17.04" --name "Downloads" \
           --hostpath /Users/john/Downloads
VBoxManage sharedfolder add "Ecce 17.04" --name "Pictures" \
           --hostpath /Users/john/Pictures
VBoxManage sharedfolder add "Ecce 17.04" --name "mysql-dumps" \
           --hostpath /Users/john/mysql-dumps
VBoxManage sharedfolder add "Ecce 17.04" --name "GoodReader" \
           --hostpath /Users/john/Public/GoodReader
VBoxManage sharedfolder add "Ecce 17.04" --name "svn" \
           --hostpath /Users/john/Public/svn
mkdir -p ~/Library/MySQL/mysql
VBoxManage sharedfolder add "Ecce 17.04" --name "mysql" \
           --hostpath /Users/john/Library/MySQL/mysql

Note that you can find out the exact name of a virtual machine by listing all available ones using:

$ VBoxManage list vms
"Ecce 17.04" {18af93bb-cc60-41e1-96ab-d36ef08b18f8}

As I wanted the data created by MySQL out of the way I decided to create a directory MySQL under /Users/john/Library with a sub directory named mysql.

Automatically Mounting Shared Folders on the Guest

Next, I configured the guest in such a way that the shared folders are mounted automatically at boot. Because at boot the required virtual box module is not loaded yet it has to be added to /etc/modules. After editing the file looks like follows on my system:

# /etc/modules: kernel modules to load at boot time.
#
# This file contains the names of kernel modules that should be loaded
# at boot time, one per line. Lines beginning with "#" are ignored.

vboxsf

Next, I added the following lines to /etc/fstab:

.my-local    /home/john/.my-local          vboxsf  uid=1000,gid=1000  0   0
Amber        /home/john/Amber              vboxsf  uid=1000,gid=1000  0   0
Documents    /home/john/Documents          vboxsf  uid=1000,gid=1000  0   0
Downloads    /home/john/Downloads          vboxsf  uid=1000,gid=1000  0   0
Pictures     /home/john/Pictures           vboxsf  uid=1000,gid=1000  0   0
mysql-dumps  /home/john/mysql-dumps        vboxsf  uid=1000,gid=1000  0   0
mysql        /var/lib/mysql                vboxsf  uid=124,gid=132    0   0
GoodReader   /home/john/Public/GoodReader  vboxsf  uid=33,gid=33      0   0
svn          /home/svn                     vboxsf  uid=33,gid=33      0   0

The numeric values for uid and gid were obtained using the id command. For my account these values are:

$ id -u john
1000
$ id -g john
1000

Both GoodReader and svn are used by the Apache web server, and need to be mounted by user www-data, group www-data. The numerical values for each are 33. For mysql the uid is 124 and the gid is 132 while running under 17.04. This differs from 16.04, so beware.

After saving the changes to /etc/rc.local I restarted the virtual machine and logged back in. I verified that each mount point in my home directory showed the expected files and directories and that I was the owner using ls -al. After this, I verified the svn and mysql mount points as well.

Next I installed MySQL and made the installation secure as follows:

sudo apt-get install mysql-server mysql-client
mysql_secure_installation

As expected, the data created by this step became available in OS X under /Users/john/Library/MySQL/mysql:

$ ls -al ~/Library/MySQL/mysql/
total 376848
drwxr-xr-x   13 john  staff       442 Jun 26 18:02 .
drwxr-xr-x    3 john  staff       102 Jun 26 16:40 ..
-rw-r-----    1 john  staff        56 Jun 26 17:44 auto.cnf
-rw-r--r--    1 john  staff         0 Jun 26 17:44 debian-5.7.flag
-rw-r-----    1 john  staff       419 Jun 26 17:44 ib_buffer_pool
-rw-r-----    1 john  staff  50331648 Jun 26 18:04 ib_logfile0
-rw-r-----    1 john  staff  50331648 Jun 26 17:44 ib_logfile1
-rw-r-----    1 john  staff  79691776 Jun 26 18:04 ibdata1
-rw-r-----    1 john  staff  12582912 Jun 26 17:45 ibtmp1
drwxr-xr-x   77 john  staff      2618 Jun 26 17:44 mysql
drwxr-xr-x   90 john  staff      3060 Jun 26 17:44 performance_schema
drwxr-xr-x  108 john  staff      3672 Jun 26 17:44 sys
drwxr-xr-x  110 john  staff      3740 Jun 26 18:02 wikidb

Running ls -al inside the guest shows, again as expected:

$ sudo ls -al /var/lib/mysql
[sudo] password for john: 
total 188428
drwxr-xr-x  1 mysql mysql      442 Jun 26 18:02 .
drwxr-xr-x 77 root  root      4096 Jun 26 18:45 ..
-rw-r-----  1 mysql mysql       56 Jun 26 17:44 auto.cnf
-rw-r--r--  1 mysql mysql        0 Jun 26 17:44 debian-5.7.flag
-rw-r-----  1 mysql mysql      419 Jun 26 17:44 ib_buffer_pool
-rw-r-----  1 mysql mysql 79691776 Jun 26 18:04 ibdata1
-rw-r-----  1 mysql mysql 50331648 Jun 26 18:04 ib_logfile0
-rw-r-----  1 mysql mysql 50331648 Jun 26 17:44 ib_logfile1
-rw-r-----  1 mysql mysql 12582912 Jun 26 17:45 ibtmp1
drwxr-xr-x  1 mysql mysql     2618 Jun 26 17:44 mysql
drwxr-xr-x  1 mysql mysql     3060 Jun 26 17:44 performance_schema
drwxr-xr-x  1 mysql mysql     3672 Jun 26 17:44 sys
drwxr-xr-x  1 mysql mysql     3740 Jun 26 18:02 wikidb

While the sorting order differs, the sizes and timestamp of each file is identical.

Note that I had already imported one database, wikidb, at this point.

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