VirtualBox, VBoxVmService, Solaris and The Command to Lock Windows

After fighting with Virtualbox and VBoxVmService (see this post on the virtualbox.org forums) trying to get VirtualBox to start up our Solaris virtual machines before a user logs in to Server 2003 and failing we decided to go the old fashioned route.

Windows auto logs on as a user with rights to run the headless VirtualBox install, runs the correct command from the VirtualBox directory:

vboxheadless -s VIRTUALMACHINENAME

then auto locks the desktop using:

rundll32.exe user32.dll, LockWorkStation

It’s a bit of a hack and not optimal but until we can work out how to get VBoxVmService to actually start the service and get our virtual machines running we have to do it this way. I think the problem stems from VBoxVmService depending on services that have not started by the time it is called. When I just start the service after logging in as both a local and domain administrator myself everything runs fine, so it can’t be a config problem, maybe..

The reason we’re using VirtualBox and not VMWare is because so far VMWare Server has proven to be a huge dissapointment for running Solaris x86 (both the current version and the Beta version 2). We have had variable results such as networks failing to initialise in the install, massive inexplicable slowdowns etc that we decided to go with VirtualBox. I would have prefered VMWare Server as it comes with everything you need to run virtual machines as a service (just like Microsoft Virtual Server) but the variability is something we can’t have in a production environment.

Although I personally didn’t try, someone else here tried to get Solaris x86 running on Microsoft Virtual Server and ran into difficulties.

Please Sun, now that you own VirtualBox, allow us to run it as a service so we can have true headless installs without logging in, just like Microsoft/VMware Virtual Server!

VMware Tools & Solaris 10 (dont do it)

Well after fighting one of our servers which refused to run vmware server properly (services wouldnt start) I installed it on my local machine to do some testing (after having to uninstall vmware workstation for some reason). Everything was going fine installing Solaris 10, albeit a bit slower than VMware workstation until I finished the install, got into the desktop and installed the VMware Tools. This was a mistake.

I have installed VMware Tools several times on VMware workstation but on VMware server it disabled and removed my network connection in Solaris and set the screen size to some massive resolution (2xxx by 1xxx). I set my desktop resolution in Solaris back to 1024×768 and it was fine, but didnt resize the VMware window. Nothing I could do could shrink the VMware window.

Lesson: Always take snapshots before doing anything, even if it worked fine the last 9999999 times.