If you are using a Linux workstation within the School of Informatics and Computing and want to run another operating system, one option is to run it as a Virtual Machine. When running a Virtual Machine, you must still adhere to some basic security requirements, including:
- Use only current operating systems that are fully supported and receiving security updates.
- Configure the system to obtain all security patches automatically
- Use anti-virus software, where possible
- You must use Network Address Translation (NAT) networking.
Here is the procedure for setting this up:
- Verify Workstation Capability - We recommend that you do not run VMs on linux systems with less than 8GB of memory or those running an older version of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system. You can run the "config" command to verify the memory and OS version. If you find that it has less than 8GB or memory or is running RHEL 6.x, please submit a service request asking for an upgrade.
- Request VirtualBox Installation - We will install the VirtualBox virtualization software on your workstation so please submit a service request asking us to install VirtualBox. In your request, please include the name and IU tag number of the workstation you are using.
- Add to Group vboxusers - As part of the installation of VirtualBox, we will add you to the vboxusers group so you have all the permissions you need to run VMs. You may need to log out and back in again before you will appear in this group. You can verify that this is set up by running the "groups" command at a terminal window and making sure that vboxusers appears in the list. If it does not, please submit a service request asking us to add you to this group.
- Local Disk Space - You are advised not to place your VM disk image in your network mounted home directory. This will give less than optimal performance and you are likely to run out of space with your limited disk quota. Instead, we will create a directory for your use on the local disk, typically /home/username. Please note that this local /home filesystem lives on the local workstation drive. As a result, it is not backed up in any way so you are responsible for backing up any critical files you have in the VM. In addition, the /home filesystem is only accessible from this one workstation and not over the network on other systems.
- Windows Installation Media and License - If you want to run Windows, you will need the media and a license. We have a Microsoft Imagine license for all SoIC faculty, staff, and students. This provides Microsoft software, including various Windows operating systems, for research use. If you do not yet have an account on this system, please submit a service request asking for an account. More information about this, and other, available software can be found in the KB page What free and discounted software is available?.
- VirtualBox Configuration - You will first need to change the default Virtual Machine Folder, which is where the VM disk images are stored. The default is a "VirtualBox VMs" folder in your default, network-mounted home directory. You should change that to be under the local /home/username folder (eg. /home/username/VirtualBox VMs) by starting virtualbox and going to File > General > Default Machine Folder.
- Virtual Machine Disk Image Creation - Once you have VirtualBox installed and configured and you have the Windows media and license, you are ready to create your VM. Just run virtualbox and click on the New icon and answer the questions to create the virtual disk image. We recommend using dynamic allocation of the VM space.
- OS Installation - Once the VM is created, you now need to install the OS. If you have a boot CD or DVD you can probably just insert it and power on the VM to boot from it. If you have downloaded an .iso file you want to boot from, you can specify that by going to Settings > Storage > Optical Drive > Click the Disk pulldown > Choose Virtual Optical Disk File. Browse to the iso file to attach. Then, just power on the VM to boot from it.
- OS Configuration - Once you have the OS installed, it will be up to you to manage the installation. You should be able to install the software you need, manage accounts, etc. If you have trouble with any of this and need help, please submit a service request and we will try to help.
Microsoft Office Notes
If you want to install additional Microsoft software on your VM, there are many products available via the Microsoft Imagine site where you downloaded the Windows OS. Unfortunately, one notable exception is that Microsoft Office is not available via Microsoft Imagine. We can help you get a license to run Microsoft Office (please submit a service request) but wanted to mention 2 alternatives that may meet your needs without having to install Microsoft Office in your VM.
- IUanyWare - The IUanyWare system allows you to run various version of the Office tools (along with lots of other Windows software) as described in the KB page What is IUanyWare. This can be used from your browser in Linux as well as in the Windows VM so there is no need to even be running a VM to use this.
- Box for Office Online - You can use Office tools (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) via a web browser as described in the KB page Box for Office Online. This is an extremely handy way to create and edit Office files from any web browser and using any operating system.