Virtualbox and Fedora Linux

David A. Wheeler


There are a number of good virtualization tools out there, including KVM, Xen, and so on. One virtualization program that doesn't get enough press is VirtualBox, supported by Sun.

VirtualBox is quite easy to use out-of-the-box, and you can easily install Fedora Linux as a guest OS on top of VirtualBox.

VirtualBox has some "guest additions", which can make using the virtualized program more pleasant. However, when you do that with Fedora 10, suddenly the network "doesn't work". For example, trying to run "yum" will produce errors of the form "[Errno 4] IOError: installed but not properly enabled - here's how to fix that. First, run the Network Configuration program (with GHOME, choose System/ Administration/ Network). You'll see there's an "eth0" network adapter; double-click it. TURN OFF "Controlled by NetworkManager", and turn on "activate device when computer starts". Push the "OK" button. Now, with "eth0" still selected, press the big green "Activate" button (which you can now do, because you turned off "controlled by NetworkManager"). Presto - working network. Now go to System/Administration/Services, and both disable and stop the "NetworkManager" service - this is the service that doesn't play nice with VirtualBox's guest additions.

VirtualBox is generally very easy to use, but it does have an odd bug: sometimes, when leaving it and trying to use other programs, the keyboard is stuck in a strange "shift key" mode. In this mode, you can't type numbers... it's as if they're always shifted. Pressing and releasing both the left and right "shift" keys seems to clear this up. Hopefully they'll fix this bug soon.

Feel free to see my home page at You may also want to look at my paper Why OSS/FS? Look at the Numbers! and by book on how to develop secure programs.

(C) Copyright 2008 David A. Wheeler.