As of January 30th, 2018 there is an error a few students are
encountering when trying to run a VM in VirtualBox that says, "The
device helper structure version has changed." To remedy this error for
now you will need to change the USB settings in your VM. All you need to
do is open the VM settings, click the USB tab, and either disable the
USB Controller entirely or select the USB 1.1 radio button. A permanent
solution for this problem is in the works; this message will disappear
once it is fixed!
What They Are
Using the computers around the department, you'll notice you have the
option of which operating system (Linux or Windows) you would like to
boot your computer in; this is called a dual boot environment. Virtual
machines (VMs) give you the ability to use other operating systems
without having to shut down the one you're already on. This is both
simpler than having to configure a system to dual boot and of course
faster than rebooting a system to the other operating system. Using a VM
is as simple as using any other application on your computer after the
initial setup of the virtual environment.
An important note is the keyword "virtual". A virtual operating system
does not directly control your physical hardware, rather a part of the
VM's software called the hypervisor dynamically allocates resources when
needed based on usage at that point. If you're interested in how VMs
work, you can read this
"guest" operating system, the one installed in your VM, is stored as a
file taking up a sizable portion of your hard drive storage. Depending
on the operating system, the VM filesize can vary anywhere from 5 to
On the lab computers, we have provided VMware Workstation and Oracle VM VirtualBox as applications to create and use virtual machines. If
you want to create your own at home, feel free to download VirtualBox as
that is an open source program. As a department we own a VMware
Workstation license to be utilized across our domain.
The CS lab machines also have the vagrant command. Vagrant is an
extremely powerful and portable VM manager that allows you to utilize
premade "boxes" to spin up a virtual machine in whatever operating
system you want in minutes!
Like with all other VMs, CS Support recommends you use a usb drive to
hold all the Vagrant and VM related files so that they are portable and
do not overfill your account's storage!
Most online explanations and guide will help in creation of virtual
machines but as a department we are concerned with how you plan to store
them. The use of virtual machines on these computers encourages
exploration and understanding of systems. Given the amount of space on
our file server, in theory you have as much space as you will ever need.
However, the more space you take up on the file system, the longer it
will take to log in to your account because your Profile is downloaded
to that lab machine every time you log on in the CSCI domain.
Our suggestion is: if you have a need to create VMs for any purpose,
keep it on a flash drive. When you create a virtual machine, install
it onto a flash drive so that you don't have to slow down your profile
load time by downloading a 10gb virtual machine every time you log in.
To remove a VM, right-click it and select remove. It will prompt you to
either remove it from the VM Manager's library or from the hard disk. If
you're removing it to free space on your profile, delete it from the