Tipping My Fedora, part 2

[last updated 2009.6.7]

I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the biggest obstacles in this Linux endeavor is the fact that I’m doing it over and over, trying to describe the steps each time, and each time I lead up to a Fedora that no longer will load, I have to start over and create a whole new virtual machine.  But some files may be updated, and therefore it may behave differently the next time.

Maybe that explains (in part) why, when I try to get advice from forums, the posts there always seem to skip steps.  After you go through something often enough, it’s certainly easy to leave out steps you’ve gone through before without remembering that others haven’t gone through them yet.

I’ll try to avoid skipping steps here.  I hope.  But I will skip a LOT of attempts to get things to work.

BTW: my work system is a Dell Optiplex 745 running Windows XP Pro on 2GB of RAM.  My personal laptop is Windows Vista 64-bit on 4GB of RAM.

In our last thrilling episode, I created a virtual machine in VirtualBox with Fedora 10.  The next step is to be able to control the resolution in Fedora 10 inside VirtualBox.  Better yet, to optimize Fedora to run in VirtualBox.

VBoxAdditions … eventually

Based on experience in several attempts at this, I went to the Applications dropdown menu, selected System Tools, and right-clicked on Terminal.  I chose to send a link for this to the desktop.  Believe me, you’re going to need to use Terminal a lot, and this is more convenient than digging down through the menus to load it each time.

The screen was still limited to 800×600 maximum.  Needed to find a fix for that.  Should be simple, right?  NOT.  There are a lot of people making suggestions in the VirtualBox forum.  None of them worked for me, and some of them locked up the Fedora so it wouldn’t boot up.  I had to delete it and reinstall it.  Several rounds of this ensued.

Loading packages into Fedora

I will consolidate and condense the advice that actually did work for me here:

  1. Load Terminal
  2. type su – (this will turn you into the root user, and the hyphen puts you in the root directory)
  3. type yum install binutils gcc make patch libgomp glibc-headers glibc-devel kernel-headers kernel-devel (this runs installations on a number of packages)

I got a Fedora popup about updates right after this. I approved it to install all updates.  There were a number of them, so I let it go a while and watched the little blinker dot on the VirtualBox hard drive icon flickering at me, sometimes orange, sometimes green, which probably means something for each color.

During this, there is a little open box with a green down arrow at the top next to the double-terminal icon for network activity, which indicates that downloading is going on, at least.  Then the box finally changes to a page in front of the open box, while it tests the changes.  Then comes a plus sign alternating with circular arrows while it does the actual installing.  Certainly resembles Windows in that it takes a while to do updates.  Go eat lunch.  A big lunch.  With dessert.  And gas up your vehicle while you’re at it.  Maybe change the oil, too.

While I waited for all that, I used the System > Preferences > Look and Feel > Screensaver to set it to 30 minutes and not lock me out.  10 minutes default isn’t much time, especially while you’re waiting for updates.

I also tried something from the book, which is to right-click on the top toolbar, and select Add to panel.  I picked a Drawer to add, and then right-clicked on the narrow little thing’s properties so I could widen it out some.  I put on some widgets: a system load indicator (now I had that CPU activity meter!), sticky notes, and a shutdown button.  I added a weather widget to the bar itself.  Now I could open a drawer and use the widgets in there.  Just a slightly different way to get handy widgets out there.

Finally I get a completed message for the updates and the open box disappears.

Now I open the terminal again and — glutton for punishment that I am — I became root again and typed yum update just be sure.  I got “another app is currently holding the yum lock” and after repeating that multiple times, it finally got to check.  Everything is updated.

Installing the VBOXADDITIONS

Now the best advice I found says “By then it’s time for another run at that install script: [root@fedoravm VBOXADDITIONS_2.2.0_45846]# sh VBoxLinuxAdditions-x86.run – which should run smoothly now, install all the guest additions” — only what does that mean?   (Aside from the minor difference in VirtualBox versions, that is.)

It looks like root (judging by the root prompt of #) is inside the directory.  This is the kind of thing that makes Linux harder than it has to be — the advice skipped steps here.

Okay, right-click on the desktop icon for VBOXADDITIONS and look inside it with “browse folder”.  Aha!  There’s the VBoxLinuxAdditions-x86.run file.  Now I need to get to it inside the Terminal function as root.

Used the “up” green arrow in the browse function until I got up to a batch of folders, starting with “bin” and going on.  Okay, this is main directory stuff in Linux.  There’s the “Media” directory and the VBoxLinuxAdditions-x86.run file is in that.

Now that I know that, I can use Terminal and become root with privileges to run it.

  1. Okay, log into Terminal.
  2. Type su without the hyphen, to become root without being in the root directory — I won’t stay there anyway.
  3. Type cd / to get to the main directory.  (Well, it used to work in DOS to change directories.  Seems to work here also.)
  4. Type dir to see the subdirectories folders.  (Another old DOS command.)
  5. There’s the “media” folder.  Type cd media to get into that folder.
  6. Type dir and there’s the folder contents.
  7. Type cd VBOXADDITIONS_2.2.4_47978 to get into that folder.
  8. Type dir and there it is, listed with the other files.
  9. Type sh VBoxLinuxAdditions-x86.run
  10. it runs!

And now it wants to restart.  Whew!  I do a full shutdown.  Restarts are not a safe bet.

Please note that you were not party to a LOT of attempts to get something else to work, before I found this advice.  And even then, it did not tell me how to get to the file in order to run it as root.

Success So Far

This time when I boot, I get a message that the guest OS supports mouse pointer integration and it doesn’t need to capture the mouse anymore, just use it over the Fedora panel.  Oh, joy!  Big improvement there, believe me, not having to swap back and forth.

Oh, and the time is correct in the top toolbar.  That bodes well.

And CTRL-F lets the Fedora FINALLY go to full screen mode, and toggle back and forth (you can’t switch to Windows while in full screen).  All the functions under Machine dropdown menu in VirtualBox now appear to be working.

Looks nice, and windows for stuff like Firefox finally allow the full width of the screen.

And it only took me… was it 10 or 11 attempts? — to get Fedora 10 to run properly in VirtualBox 2.2.4.  I hope it gets easier from here.

I took my notes home and tried it on my Vista 64-bit laptop system.  It worked there, too.  Due to the wide screen, I had to adjust the Firefox window a bit, but it worked properly.

So, it seems I can actually run a virtual machine for Fedora 10 inside VirtualBox on my XP Pro and Vista 64-bit systems.  At least, the basics seem to work.


tabs in the catalog

Working on the catalog display in Innovative (III) today and making these notes to myself.

I originally used the May 2007 set downloaded from III, with some modifications I picked up at IUG, for the version I brought out in August 2007.

The campus standard HAD been to accomodate 800×600 displays, and I didn’t want people using those to go from the campus pages to the library pages and find themselves suddenly running off the side of the screen with the catalog.

Since we are now no longer restricted to the 800×600 display (with the wide margins left and right), I’m reconfiguring the pages for 98% width (just a 1% margin on each side — I think it looks neater and less crowded than 100% across the page) of the screen in 1025×768 resolution.

That leaves a lot of stuff sort of weighing down the left side. All the tabs, for example, start on the left, and don’t go very far across in many cases.

So, I decided I needed to change the width of the tabs to spread them out a bit. The catch is, the tabs normally on mainmenu.html, for example, are using the div class “mainActiveTab” with “menuActiveTab” and InactiveTab, and those have only one size.

However, the div class “helpActiveTab” has “helpActiveTabMedium” and “Large” and seem to work just as well, so I’m replacing “main/menu” with “help” div classes. (It’s easier than adding to the CSS for “main/menu”.)

Then I changed the size to all medium tabs. Spreads further across and balances the look better, IMHO.

I’ve also taken the frame with the Quick Links and moved it over to the far right 20% of the page, and reset the percentages to 80% search and 20% Quick Links frame, now that I have the additional room. More balanced, again.

Tests okay.