VirtualBox and Shared Folders

September 9, 2011

I’ve just spent a whole day working this out, so I absolutely have to share this with anyone who cares. Here’s my environment:

  • Windows 7 SP1 Host
  • VirtualBox 4.1.2
  • Ubuntu 10 x86 Guest
  • Ubuntu 11 x64 Guest

I hit two things during this install: that a shared folder couldn’t be read by the Ubuntu user; and the VM crashed when I shut it down after adding the Guest Addons. I worked out both issues, and for the benefit of all am going to write them down in my blog.

Shared Folder Cannot be Read

After following all the docs I could find about setting up a shared folder, I realised it was doing what it was supposed to but there was a permissions problem. When I tried to view the /media/sf_sharedDiskName directory (which is where Virtual Box mounts the shared folder from the host) I got an error saying I didn’t have permission to read that folder. I needed to add the vboxsf group to my user’s groups, and reboot and that did the trick. Here’s the procedure to add a shared drive:

  1. Add the shared drive using the VirtualBox UI (either with VM started or stopped).
  2. Start up the VM if it isn’t running and add the vboxsf group to your user. Do this using the System > Administration > Users and Groups dialog. Click Manage Groups and look for the vboxsf group. Select it and click Properties and add your user to this group.
  3. Restart the VM.

Voila it works! So easy when you know how!

VM Crashed When Shutdown/Restarted

The other issue I had was the VM crashing when I shut it down or turned it off. The crash happened almost immediately on issuing the shutdown/restart command. I worked out that I had 3D Acceleration checked in the VM Settings and this was the culprit. You won’t see this crash until you install the Guest Addons, then the crashes will begin on shutdown. So, to fix this, turn off 3D acceleration.

The End of Microsoft is Nigh

July 11, 2007

Yeah, yeah, I hear you all say. I didn’t think it was really possible either. But now I’m starting to believe it is, and it will be soon. Here are the barriers I see to the end of Microsoft, that is, what we really need as end users to make the change:

  • A new, intuitive interface (that means, we don’t have to relearn what we already know, or learn what we don’t. Harder that you’d imagine, but not impossible.
  • A stable operating system. It must not crash (too) often. A crash now and then is really inevitable. Or is it?
  • Free software, or at the very least, affordable to everyone. And I mean very cheap, not US$800 for a a single piece of software. I’m thinking more like $10, which is still outrageous to many people!
  • Office productivity tools that are at least as easy-to-use and useful as Microsoft Office products.
  • Games and audio software that runs even better on these new platforms.
  • Cheap hardware. Well, we really do have this now. The machines we’re using now are more sophisticated and faster than anything I could have imagined when I started in this IT game. Yes, it was a bloody long time ago!

These are just a few of requirements that I’ve been pondering of late. If I gave it more than a few minutes thought, I could come up with a very long, and detailed list, but I’ll leave it at the main ones for now.

So, why has Microsoft kept such a choke-hold on the desktops of the enterprise and the home? We all know this, so I won’t bore you with the bundling strategies they got the hardware vendors to sign up to, and I won’t bore you with the law suits that stifled creativity, and the big boys throwing sand in the eyes of the little school starters in the playground. It’s so Web 1.0.

Web 1.0. I know that doesn’t even exist, but then nor does Web 2.0. It’s just a marketing slogan, like the Information Superhighway (I hated that with a passion). Web 2.0 is just a bunch of clever widgets created with Dynamic HTML (DHMTL), which is essentially Javascript controlling Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Write a few of these widgets, reuse them in other applications, and you’ve got this fancy-pants new user interface that wasn’t able to be done before the current-day web browsers. We’ve all been waiting for this forever, and now all the ducks are in a row, and we can start shooting them down with our widget guns.

Back to my point.

Now our web-based interfaces are becoming more useable, we’ve started on our way to the end of Microsoft as the platform of choice.

Open source really is the future of software. Sure, the business model still needs some working on, but the idea of free software, and users paying for support really rocks my world. It blows my hair back better than my turbo-powered hair dryer.

The Linux operating system, in all its many fine flavours, is really starting to make me a happy lass. The interfaces are improving. The development and support models are improving, with some big players getting involved and offering real enterprise-level offerings. If the user interface improves to the point that any old Microsoft user can make it do what they want, without too much frustration, I think we have a winner.

As for office productivity, Open Office goes a long way to this. Really, it does. I rarely use MSOffice anymore, and rely solely on OO. If you haven’t tried it before, or haven’t even heard of it, go download it now and give it a go. Did I mention it’s free? Oh goodness, free? Really? How do they do it?

So what’s the point to this ramble? I’m looking forward to the next 5-6 years in the open source development world. I think things will really change. If a group of developers get together and really, really think about the interface, then we will all win. Steve Jobs showed us what a great interface is oh so many years ago, but I think even Apple have lost the path lately. I love love love Apple, but I still think their UI could be better. I think everybody’s UI should be better.

I think it’s time I took a job in interface design. I could save the world.

Myspace Vs Facebook

July 6, 2007

I’ve been doing a fair bit of playing with Facebook lately. It seems pretty good. A nice Web 2.0 application, which shits all over the myspace UI design. Okay, you can’t customize style sheets, but personally, I’m more than happy with that. The number of disgusting myspace pages out there absolutely offends my sense of UI design. People who use the CSS to make their pages unreadable should not be allowed accounts. In my opinion, that level of customization shouldn’t be allowed by people who have no idea of how CSS works, and good design knowledge. So that’s where Facebook really kicks butt. No user CSS customization. At least within the UI. You can, however, add a (real) user style sheet to Facebook. There are a number of predesigned Firefox extensions that let you do this, and that’s how user CSS should be used in my opinion. Let me decide how to format and colour your page. Don’t make me see your appalling attempt at it. It’ll just make me think you’re an idiot.

I also love the drag and click model of the UI widgets. Why has myspace been so slow in adopting this, when Facebook does it so easily?

I think there are some very childish and useless widgets on Facebook though. That bloody Zombie widget that’s taking over at the moment, and the number of different Wall widgets seems a bit silly. Perhaps the Facebook team could spend a bit more time vetting what’s made available. Perhaps even commission the good ones, and dump the dodgy ones. I also like the model of making a few dollars by writing a decent widget that costs pennies to the user, but can reap huge rewards for the developer. I’m considering writing one myself to practice my Web2.0 and PHP skills. I’m about to go read the developer doc and see how it all works. Might be a fun little project. Perhaps a customizable style sheet? Argh!

So far I’ve managed to intergrate my flickr site with Facebook, and I’m about to figure out how I can link in my blogs other than just using links. If you know, please feel free to post a comment and let me know. Any other Facebook hints would be handy too.

Yahoo Mail Beta Won’t Load

June 15, 2007

I’ve been having lots of problems loading Yahoo mail lately. It started with Firefox All of a sudden I just couldn’t get past the login screen. Nothing would display. Nothing in the source, no errors. Just nothing. So I started using IE to read Yahoo mail. Then I upgraded to IE7, and Yahoo Mail became unstable again. Random HTTP errors. So it became unusable again. I cleared my cookies, cache, and removed my adblocker extensions. It just got worse and worse.

So yesterday I logged in on my trusty Mac, and switched from the Yahoo Beta to the standard Yahoo. I’m back in business everywhere now. What a shame. I hate the old style, but it’s the only version that works.

I’ll just have to use Gmail as my main free email now, and relegate Yahoo to the spam email system.

Installing PEAR on Linux

June 13, 2007

I recently had to install PEAR into a PHP environment on a Linux machine, and as I did the install I wrote it up. This information is pretty easy to find, but I like to write these things up so I don’t forget them in future and have to keep going round in circles trying to find information. I thought it might be useful for others, so here it is.

Installing PEAR into a PHP/Apache install

Download the go-pear.php script from

Open a command line shell and run the script:

php go-pear.php
Welcome to go-pear!
Go-pear will install the 'pear' command and all the files needed by
it. This command is your tool for PEAR installation and maintenance.
Go-pear also lets you download and install the PEAR packages bundled
with PHP: MDB2.
If you wish to abort, press Control-C now, or press Enter to continue:
HTTP proxy (, or Enter for none::
Below is a suggested file layout for your new PEAR installation.  To
change individual locations, type the number in front of the
directory.  Type 'all' to change all of them or simply press Enter to
accept these locations.
 1. Installation prefix           : /usr
 2. Binaries directory            : $prefix/bin
 3. PHP code directory ($php_dir) : $prefix/share/pear
 4. Documentation base directory  : $php_dir/docs
 5. Data base directory           : $php_dir/data
 6. Tests base directory          : $php_dir/tests
 7. Temporary files directory     : $prefix/temp
1-7, 'all' or Enter to continue:
The following PEAR packages are bundled with PHP: MDB2.
Would you like to install these as well? [Y/n] : Y
Loading zlib: ok
Downloading package: PEAR-stable......ok
Downloading package: Archive_Tar-stable....ok
Downloading package: Console_Getopt-stable....ok
Downloading package: Structures_Graph-stable....ok
Bootstrapping: PEAR...................(remote) ok
Bootstrapping: Archive_Tar............(remote) ok
Bootstrapping: Console_Getopt.........(remote) ok
Downloading package: MDB2.............ok
Extracting installer..................ok
warning: pear/PEAR requires package "pear/Archive_Tar" (version >= 1.3.1)
warning: pear/PEAR requires package "pear/Console_Getopt" (version >= 1.2)
warning: pear/PEAR requires package "pear/Structures_Graph" (version >= 1.0.2)
pear/PEAR can optionally use package "pear/XML_RPC" (version >= 1.4.0)
pear/PEAR can optionally use package "pear/PEAR_Frontend_Web" (version >= 0.5.0)pear/PEAR can optionally use package "pear/PEAR_Frontend_Gtk" (version >= 0.4.0)install ok: channel://
install ok: channel://
install ok: channel://
install ok: channel://
install ok: channel://
MDB2: Optional feature fbsql available (Frontbase SQL driver for MDB2)
MDB2: Optional feature ibase available (Interbase/Firebird driver for MDB2)
MDB2: Optional feature mysql available (MySQL driver for MDB2)
MDB2: Optional feature mysqli available (MySQLi driver for MDB2)
MDB2: Optional feature mssql available (MS SQL Server driver for MDB2)
MDB2: Optional feature oci8 available (Oracle driver for MDB2)
MDB2: Optional feature pgsql available (PostgreSQL driver for MDB2)
MDB2: Optional feature querysim available (Querysim driver for MDB2)
MDB2: Optional feature sqlite available (SQLite2 driver for MDB2)
To install use "pear install pear/MDB2#featurename"
The 'pear' command is now at your service at /usr/bin/pear

You can now use PEAR to install PHP extensions. See

Finally VOIP is in Australia

June 7, 2007

I’ve been waiting for a long time for this. Skype has got their act together locally. They’re offering a real VOIP service in Australia, for a reasonable price. As I have a kick-arse connection at home, I’ve decided to give up my land line. I just called Optus to cancel it. They really didn’t want me to. They first offered me $10 off my $19 a month phone connection, then made a final offer of $15 a month. They were really trying. But I am totally insistent that I shall never have a land line again. I never use it and the only time it rings is when telemarketers call over dinner. So I now have no home phone, only my mobile, and cable broadband.

Ah, I feel so much better being free of the shackles of a home phone.

My Oracle blog has moved

April 20, 2006

I’ve moved these few articles to my latest, greatest blog at:

This blog will only remain here for another few weeks before I hit delete. Please change any bookmarks to the new blog.



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