VirtualBox allows you to run a nested operating system on top of Linux. I want to use it with Windows XP (which I have an old copy of) in order to run the imaging software which came with my new Epson Perfection V500 Photo scanner. It may also come in handy if I want to run some of my favourite old games like Age of Empires and Starcraft. The difference between VirtualBox and dual-booted operating systems is that the nested (or guest) OS will be running at the same time as my regular Ubuntu applications — no reboot required. I’m keen to see how it goes.

In Ubuntu Jaunty, the installation was a snap. I followed the instructions in the VirtualBox manual:

First I installed virtualbox with apt-get (you could use aptitude or synaptic, of course), then I added myself to the appropriate group:

sudo usermod -a -G vboxusers kevin

That was it for the initial installation. Next I had to set up the Windows XP virtual machine. After getting a “session3_initialization_failed” blue screen error the first couple of times I tried to install Windows XP Home, I found the instructions here. In particular, the post suggests adding this line

none /proc/bus/usb usbfs devgid=000,devmode=664 0 0

to /etc/fstab where “000″ is replaced by the group id for vboxusers which you can obtain from the /etc/group file. Note that the original post suggests this technique for Ubuntu Intrepid, but it also worked for my Ubuntu Jaunty install.

I now have Windows XP Home Edition running perfectly inside my Ubuntu system.

UPDATE: Turns out to be slightly more complicated than I thought. The virtualbox-ose (open source edition) packages work great unless you want USB support. For that you have to re-install using the virtualbox-3.0 non-free packages available from Sun. I simply added Sun’s repository, installed the other version and everything worked fine from there.