Friday, March 23, 2007

Kubuntu and VPC

(Warning - this post may be terminally boring to non-geeks)

I have been playing around with several *nix distributions for a while, trying to get the recent versions of Kubuntu and Backtrack2 to boot or install under Virtual PC (VPC).

So far, Backtrack2 has not been happy - it keeps hanging VPC, usually just after the nice splash screen comes up. At one point I managed to get a prompt, but then hit the same hang again. (If anyone has tips on how to get Backtrack2 to work under VPC, let me know)

Kubuntu is much happier - I have an old Edgy Eft (5.1) virtual machine that was running fine, but was painful to use since it would only run in 800x600 mode. After much tweaking I figured out what is needed to get a decent screen resolution, and then decided to move to the latest release of Kubuntu.

There are some blogs/websites with tips on how to install Kubuntu under VPC and tweak the display, but here's the steps I used:
  • Mount the Kubuntu ISO in your virtual machine, and start it.
  • Hit F4 at the initial prompt, and select 800x600x16. This will allow the install to be visible in VPC.
  • You can also let the boot/install option kick off, and switch to a text console when X-Windows gets messed up under VPC. Since this is useful to know how to do (sometimes you'll want to do this once you've got an install on your virtual hard-disk), here's how:
  • Hit Ctrl-Alt-F1 (switches to text console 1). You should see a prompt already logged-in.
  • Type sudo bash to get a root shell prompt, and cd /etc/X11
  • Edit xorg.conf, and change the display depth entry from 24 to 16. You might also want to add some high-resolution display modes to the 16bpp entry (I added "1280x1024")
  • You now need to restart the X server for the changes to get picked up. A nifty way to do this is to switch back to the X console (Ctrl-Alt-F7), and then use Ctrl-Backspace to restart X.
  • You should now have a display that's usable.

Todo: I still need to figure out how to set the monitor settings so that 1280x1024 is used.

So far, it looks like I'll be sticking to Kubunto 5.10 under VPC, though. Kubuntu 6 has some nasty bugs and the mouse/keyboard behaviour under VPC is terrible... :(

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