Category Archives: VirtualBox

How to install Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) on an encrypted hard drive.

Filed under IT, Linux, VirtualBox

Debian is my favorite distro, but I usually don’t recommend it as a desktop environment. LMDE is a nice alternative for Debian fans who want to use Debian as their everyday home/work desktop environment. Unlike Ubuntu, it’s a pure Debian installation (basically Debian Testing), but it uses a more agile and up to date package repository. Many software packages which are known to be a hassle on Debian desktops run seamlessly out of the box. Who hasn’t cried out “Come on Debian, who needs Iceweasel. I want the latest version of Firefox with Flash running”. LMDE goes a little bit along the line “I like to have my cake and eat it too”.

One thing that bothered me tough, is that the LMDE installer didn’t offer any options to encrypt the partition(s). I found a howto by hashstat Howto install LMDE with LVM (with or without encryption). However I didn’t like the idea of transforming the Live CD into the final system.

The main part of the solution I describe here is heavily based on hashstat howto. However, we install LMDE onto a virtual machine and then transfer it onto the encrypted partition. There are three steps:

  1. Install LMDE on a VirtualBox VM
  2. Prepare encrypted disk
  3. Transfer LMDE from the virtual machine to the real machine

In my case, I installed LMDE on a virtual machine on my notebook. If you don’t have an extra computer, it might also be possible to install LMDE on a flash drive and use it later to transfer it to your real machine. However I didn’t try that. The virtual machine method was fitting for me, since I had LMDE already installed on it for a test drive.

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Copy Paste Hell Between Windows Host and Linux Guest in VirtualBox

Filed under Linux, VirtualBox
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The X server maintains three different selection buffers, PRIMARY, SECONDARY and CLIPBOARD. The PRIMARY buffer is usually used for copying and pasting via the middle mouse button. And the CLIPBOARD buffer is used when the user selects some data and explicitly requests it to be “copied” to the clipboard, such as by invoking “Copy”.

The VirtualBox client tool synchronizes the Windows clipboard content to the PRIMARY and CLIPBOARD buffer of a Linux host. But it only synchronizes the CLIPBOARD buffer back out to the Windows host. The reason why it’s not using the PRIMARY selection is that by only selecting a text in Linux overwrites the Windows clipboard immediately, which is an unexpected behavior for Windows users. At least that’s their excuse.

It might not be the expected behavior for Windows users. But it’s definitely not the expected behavior for Linux users. The forums are filled with posts like “Copy/Paste from Linux guest to Windows doesn’t work”. It is especially annoying that the selected text from a terminal window can not be easily pasted out to the Windows host. There are a couple solutions. But none are really satisfying.

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Resizing a Linux Partition (Running in VirtualBox)

Filed under IT, Linux, VirtualBox
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I was recently setting up a new test environment (BackTrack 5) inside a VirtualBox VM. Half way down the road of my project I realized that I was way to stingily with the amount of space I assigned to the virtual drive. Well, I thought no problem – I am going to enlarge the virtual drive. The steps would be easy:

  1. Enlarging the virtual drive
  2. Enlarging the partition holding the root file system with parted
  3. Enlarging the file system with resize2fs

Easy in theory. In reality it was still a little bit tricky.

Note, that everything that I describe in steps 2 and 3 also applies to a real linux machine. Step 1 is only necessary, because I happened to work inside a VM. On a real machine, step 1 would be something like copying the data of the old physical  drive onto a newer bigger drive with dd or the likes.

I also realize that there may be more professional programs like partition magic, which would have saved me some trouble. But I wanted to make it work right here and there with the things I had at hand. Which was parted. Or even the plain old fdisk would have done I guess.

It also goes without saying, that before you do things like this, that you need to make a backup if the data is of any value to you at all.

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