Thursday, 22 September 2011

Shared Folders in VirtualBox

Shared Folders are a big advantage in both VirtualBox and VMware Player (>3.0.x). However I notice that in my direct neighborhood there is a unfamiliarity with it. And how to use it. That is, it turns out that a created shared folder is not mounted right a way in a started VM. So to help this out, a little how to.

To create a Shared Folder you have to go to the SharedFolders node in the VM Settings:

There you can click on the add folder button. Of course you can remove or edit existing ones.

Give here the path to the folder on your host. At the layout of the screen you could gues my host is a Windows 7. You can give in a Shared Folder name.
The other options (check boxes, I really need to do a reinstall of VB in English, however it was no option I've chosen consciously to install it in Dutch) are:
  • Read only
  • Auto Mount
  • Make permanent
I check the the latter 2.
Although auto mount is checked, this does not count right away for running Linux guests. Therefor you have to do a restart.

Shared Folders are automounted in linux as /media/sf_<sharedfolder name>

So as root you have to
  • create the folder
  • ' change owner' it to root:vboxsf
  • set " group writable" with chmod
  • Then mount the folder
makker@makker-lnx:~> cd /media
makker@makker-lnx:/media> ls -l
total 92
drwxrwx--- 1 root vboxsf 4096 Aug 25 17:07 sf_Data
drwxrwx--- 1 root vboxsf 8192 Sep 21 13:45 sf_Documents
dr-xr-xr-x 1 root root 16384 Sep 22 09:59 sf_Downloads
drwxrwx--- 1 root vboxsf 65536 Aug 23 14:26 sf_Music
makker@makker-lnx:/media> sudo mkdir sf_Projects
root's password:
makker@makker-lnx:/media> ls -l
total 96
drwxrwx--- 1 root vboxsf 4096 Aug 25 17:07 sf_Data
drwxrwx--- 1 root vboxsf 8192 Sep 21 13:45 sf_Documents
dr-xr-xr-x 1 root root 16384 Sep 22 09:59 sf_Downloads
drwxrwx--- 1 root vboxsf 65536 Aug 23 14:26 sf_Music
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Sep 22 12:06 sf_Projects

makker@makker-lnx:/media> sudo chown root:vboxsf sf_Projects
makker@makker-lnx:/media> sudo chmod g+w sf_Projects
makker@makker-lnx:/media> ls -l
total 96
drwxrwx--- 1 root vboxsf 4096 Aug 25 17:07 sf_Data
drwxrwx--- 1 root vboxsf 8192 Sep 21 13:45 sf_Documents
dr-xr-xr-x 1 root root 16384 Sep 22 09:59 sf_Downloads
drwxrwx--- 1 root vboxsf 65536 Aug 23 14:26 sf_Music
drwxrwxr-x 2 root vboxsf 4096 Sep 22 12:06 sf_Projects

To mount the folder use the command mount -t vboxsf <sharedfolder name> /media/sf_<sharedfolder name>
makker@makker-lnx:/media> sudo mount -t vboxsf Projects /media/sf_Projects
makker@makker-lnx:/media> ls -l sf_Projects/
total 94
-rwxrwxrwx 1 root root 9776 Oct 12 2010 AIA Project in Amsterdam

Now, as you'll notice to use the shared folder by another user than root, you'll need to add that user to the vboxsf user group.

The easiest way to do that is to use the user-administration tool of your linux distribution.

To add it on the commandline, first list the groups you allready have:

makker@makker-lnx:/media> id
uid=1000(makker) gid=100(users) groups=100(users),6(disk),17(audio),20(cdrom),33(video),49(ftp)


makker@makker-lnx:/media> groups
users disk audio cdrom video ftp

Then use usermod (as root or via sudo) to add the group:

makker@makker-lnx:/media> sudo /usr/sbin/usermod -g users -G disk,audio,cdrom,video,ftp,vboxsf makker
makker@makker-lnx:/media> groups
users disk audio cdrom video ftp vboxsf

Mind that you have always a primary group indicated with lowercase '-g', and several secondary groups indicated with capital '-G' and a comma separated list (don't use spaces).

That's it.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Decomposing Virtual Machines

It's been a while since my last post, but here's a new one.
This summer I got a VirtualMachine to do a Webcenter workshop. The VM turned out to be 30GB in size. This 30GB is basically one big Virtual Disk of logically 50GB. That is: it's dynamically allocated and can grow until 50GB.
Although it is a VirtualBox VM, the disk uses VMDK format, which is the VMware virtual disk format.
The disk contained the OS (of course), the install/setup files of the database, Weblogic Suite, Repository Creation Utillity and WebcenterSuite, and the installation itself.
This means that after installing the OS, the setup files are copied to the VM into a staging directory, from which the installation is done. The installation is put in a /u01/app folder, but physically in the same disk after the setup files. So deleting the setup files won't decrease the VM a bit.

I found it a nice project to try to split the VM getting it into a more suitable size.

The project turned out to be about the following steps:
  1. Add new virtual disks for the Oracle/Webcenter installation and the staging-area (the setup files)
  2. Partition, format and mount the disks
  3. Copy/Move the staging and installation folder to their particular disks
  4. Detach the staging disk
  5. Transform the OS disk from VMDK to VDI
  6. Shrink/Compact the OS disk
1. Add new virtual disks
Adding a disk to the VM is pretty simple: goto VM settings and node Storage. I'm sorry the screendumps are in dutch. Some how I got a Dutch VirtualBox installation.

Click the add disk Icon on the Sata Controller node.
Choose "create new disk":

Choose VDI as disk format. VDI is the "Virtual Disk Image" format of VirtualBox. VMDK is the "Virtual Machine Disk" format of VMware. Later I'll show how to create a VDI image out of a VMDK, but it's better to choose the right format right away. Especially because VirtualBox can't compact a VMDK.

For "transportable" VM's choose the option "Dynamically Allocated". That way the Disk Image is only the size of the needed space.

Then choose a location and preferably a sensible name. Then set the (maximum) size on an appropriate value.

Now, you could add all the disks you need right a way. In my case I need two extra disks: one for the installation (disk2; disk1 one is for the OS: the root disk) and one for staging (named the stage disk here). But it is important to know which disk get's which device name. I think you can assume that the disk that is first in the list gets "/dev/sda", the second "/dev/sdb" and so this staging disk "/dev/sdc". But I don't take the risk and add a disk and format it one by one (and thus do a restart each new disk).

2. Partition, Format and mount disks
This can in fact in two ways:
  • The raw way: partition, format and mount the raw disk.
  • Use Logical Volume Manager to create a Logical Volume in a Volume Group
2.1 the raw way:
First check with fdisk -l the disk devices:
[root@server1 ~]# fdisk -l

Disk /dev/sda: 53.6 GB, 53687091200 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 6527 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes

Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sda1 * 1 13 104391 83 Linux
/dev/sda2 14 6527 52323705 8e Linux LVM

Disk /dev/sdb: 21.4 GB, 21474836480 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 2610 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes

Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sdb1 1 2611 20971519+ 8e Linux LVM

Disk /dev/sdc: 10.7 GB, 10737418240 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 1305 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes

Disk /dev/sdc doesn't contain a valid partition table

Disk /dev/dm-0: 47.7 GB, 47747956736 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 5805 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes

Disk /dev/dm-0 doesn't contain a valid partition table

Disk /dev/dm-1: 5804 MB, 5804916736 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 705 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes

Disk /dev/dm-1 doesn't contain a valid partition table

Here you see that /dev/sdc does not contain a partition table (ignore /dev/dm-0 and /dev/dm-1).
Then partition it with fdisk /dev/sdc (the device that you want to partition) and enter the following commands:
  • n (new partition)
  • p (for primary)
  • 1 (first partition)
  • 2 x enter, accepting the defaults for first and last cylinder
  • w (write partition table to disk)

[root@server1 ~]# fdisk /dev/sdc
Device contains neither a valid DOS partition table, nor Sun, SGI or OSF disklabel
Building a new DOS disklabel. Changes will remain in memory only,
until you decide to write them. After that, of course, the previous
content won't be recoverable.

The number of cylinders for this disk is set to 1305.
There is nothing wrong with that, but this is larger than 1024,
and could in certain setups cause problems with:
1) software that runs at boot time (e.g., old versions of LILO)
2) booting and partitioning software from other OSs
Warning: invalid flag 0x0000 of partition table 4 will be corrected by w(rite)

Command (m for help): n
Command action
e extended
p primary partition (1-4)
Partition number (1-4): 1
First cylinder (1-1305, default 1):
Using default value 1
Last cylinder or +size or +sizeM or +sizeK (1-1305, default 1305):
Using default value 1305

Command (m for help): w
The partition table has been altered!

Calling ioctl() to re-read partition table.
Syncing disks.
Then you can create a filesystem on it (format). Based on the version of the Linux distro you can choose for ext3 or ext4 (older systems have ext2). You can do this by issueing the command mkfs.ext4 and ofcourse choose y(es) at the question to proceed anyway:
[root@server1 ~]# mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdc
mke4fs 1.41.12 (17-May-2010)
/dev/sdc is entire device, not just one partition!
Proceed anyway? (y,n) y
Filesystem label=
OS type: Linux
Block size=4096 (log=2)
Fragment size=4096 (log=2)
Stride=0 blocks, Stripe width=0 blocks
655360 inodes, 2621440 blocks
131072 blocks (5.00%) reserved for the super user
First data block=0
Maximum filesystem blocks=2684354560
80 block groups
32768 blocks per group, 32768 fragments per group
8192 inodes per group
Superblock backups stored on blocks:
32768, 98304, 163840, 229376, 294912, 819200, 884736, 1605632

Writing inode tables: done
Creating journal (32768 blocks): done
Writing superblocks and filesystem accounting information: done

This filesystem will be automatically checked every 37 mounts or
180 days, whichever comes first. Use tune4fs -c or -i to override.

Then the disk is usable but you need to mount it. Since it in this case is a staging disk I want to mount it as such. So I create a directory /stage in the root:
[root@server1 /]# mkdir stage
[root@server1 /]# ls -l
total 186
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Sep 9 17:43 stage

Then create an entry in the /etc/fstab:
/dev/sdc /stage ext4 defaults 1 2

Of course it is most convenient to copy an existing row and edit it in the above way. Take care of editing the file system correctly (ext4 in this case).
You can mount the disk with mount /stage.
Then the owner is automatically root:root. To enable another user (eg. oracle) to use it you can create a directory oracle in it and change the owner to oracle:
[root@server1 ~]# cd /stage
[root@server1 stage]# mkdir oracle
[root@server1 stage]# chown oracle:oinstall oracle
[root@server1 stage]# ls -l
total 20
drwx------ 2 root root 16384 Sep 15 17:51 lost+found
drwxr-xr-x 2 oracle oinstall 4096 Sep 15 18:05 oracle

2.2 Logical Volume Manager

Using a Logical Volume Group with a Logical Volume gives you a little more flexibility in extending your disk. Also, using the Logical Volume manager is a little simpeler. Since there is a nice gui for it in Gnome.
Start it using the administration menu:

You need to provide the root password.
Then you get in the following screen:

Here you see an uninitialized disk. Actually it is the disk that I used in my previous example. So it is (in my case at least) already partitioned and formated. That would not be the case with new disk of course.
So first you have to initialize it and then it asks to partition it.

It gives an error and suggests a reboot. That I did and I just re-initalized it. Which went ok.
After it is initialized you'll find it in the Unallocated Volumes node. You can add it to an existing volume group. That is handy if you want to extend it. Especially in an enterprise environment that needs to extend a volume with more space (for a growing database or something).

In this case we choose to create a new Volume Group.

Give it an appropriate name. You can choose an extent size. You'll probably don't want to create it too small, since that would probably cause an extend quite often.

Then you can create a Logical Volume in it:

Choose Ext4 for the filesystem. Click on "Use Remaining" to span the complete partion.
You can check "Mount" and "Mount when rebooted".
After pressing "Ok" you get the following dialog:

Of course you choose "Yes". If you check the /etc/fstab you'll find an entry like:
/dev/VolGroup02/LogVol00                /stage          ext4    defaults        1 2
3. Copy/Move the files to the new disk
Well, I assume I don't have to explain this. Fortunately in my case the installation is done in /u01/app/oracle. So I could name my mount point /u01. It's important to choose the mount point precisely as the first directory of the directory path (see step 2). To do so, you'd probably rename the directory with the installation first. The result should be that the mount point and the rest of the directory structure matches the original path. Otherwise the installation would break and the whole exercise is quite needless.

4. Detach the staging disk
You probably don't want to ship the staging disk with the VM. In this decomposition project we created it to get the staging files out of the root disk. Normally when creating a VM you create an empty staging disk and copy the setup files into it. After doing the installation you don't need the stage disk anymore. But it can be handy to refine an installation later on or redo an installation in an other VM. In those cases you'll want to backup the disk.

But anyway, at this point you can detach it from your VM. But before you do that it is extremely important to remove or comment the corresponding line (see the line above) from the /etc/fstab. If you don't you'll not be able to restart the VM again. Because Linux tries to mount the disk that can't be found when removed from the storage.

Then you can shutdown the machine, go to the storage settings of the machine and remove the disk from the sata controller.

If you removed the disk from the /etc/fstab then you can safely startup the VM again.

5. Transform the OS disk from VMDK to VDI
To be able to compact the disk, you'll neet to transform it to VDI. VirtualBox can't convert it in one go. You'll need to convert from VMDK to Raw format first and then from Raw to VDI.

5.1 Convert from VMDK to Raw
Open a command window or terminal/console session and cd to your VirtualBox installation. My host is a Windows 7 laptop and my VirtualBox Installation is in c:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox>. In that directory you'll find the Vboxmanage tool. To convert the disk to raw you issue the command:

VboxManage internalcommands converttoraw  -format vmdk <path to vmdk disk> <path to new raw disk>

Spaces in folders are not so convenient, since it can break the option list in the command line. Enclose the path's to the input (vmdk) and output (raw) disk with quotes.
For example:
c:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox>VboxManage internalcommands converttoraw -format vmdk "c:\Users\makker\VirtualBox VMs\PTS_WebCenter_PS4\PTS_DWN_Webcenter_PS4-disk1.vmdk" "d:\VirtualMachines\VirtualBox\Webcenter11g\PTS_Webcenter_PS4-disk1.raw"
Converting image "c:\Users\makker\VirtualBox VMs\PTS_WebCenter_PS4\PTS_DWN_Webcenter_PS4-disk1.vmdk" with size 536870912
00 bytes (51200MB) to raw...

It should be needles to say that it is not so wise to do this while running the Virtual Machine. Make sure it is down before running the conversion.

5.2 Convert from Raw to VDI
The command to convert it from raw to VDI is quite similar. Remarkably the conversion to raw is apparently an "internal command" to virtual box, but the conversion from raw to another disk format is not. The command is:
VboxManage convertfromraw <path to raw disk> <path to (new) VDI disk> --format vdi --variant Standard
For example:
c:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox>VboxManage convertfromraw d:\VirtualMachines\VirtualBox\Webcenter11g\PTS_Webcenter_PS
4-disk1.raw "c:\Users\makker\VirtualBox VMs\PTS_WebCenter_PS4\PTS_Webcenter_PS4-disk1.vdi" --format vdi --variant Standard
Converting from raw image file="d:\VirtualMachines\VirtualBox\Webcenter11g\PTS_Webcenter_PS4-disk1.raw" to file="c:\Users\makker\VirtualBox VMs\PTS_WebCenter_PS4\PTS_Webcenter_PS4-disk1.vdi"...
Creating dynamic image with size 53687091200 bytes (51200MB)...

For a big disk, this can take quite an amount of time. In my case it took about 20 minutes per conversion.

Having done this, you can remove the VMDK from the storage in the Virtual Machine settings and add the VDI disk. You can do that in the same way as shown above with creating a new disk, except in stead choose "existing disk".
Make sure you put the disk on the correct sata port. For the root disk this should be port 0:
The root disk is of course the first one to be found by Linux and should get /dev/sda as device name. If it is your second it should get port 1 and thus named /dev/sdb by Linux, and so on.

6. Shrink/Compact the OS disk
Now, the disks are VDI, the root disk only contains the OS by now, since we moved the staging and installation in step 3. However: the disk is still huge: 30GB while the OS would only take about 5 to 6 GB (OS plus swap space). So it needs to shrink.
But for the compact tool, this 25GB remaining space is written and thus data. We first have to zero out the space. There is a tool for that: zerofree. Unfortunately it is not in the Oracle Enterprise Linux distribution. But OEL 5 is compatible with RedHat5. So I found my rpm here. Be sure you download the correct one (i386 or x86_64). Install it as root with
rpm -ihv zerofree-1.0.1-5.el5.i386.rpm
Well and then we have a problem. Zerofree only works on a readonly filesystem.
So we have to mount the rootdisk read only. That's not so easy since there are several processes that runs against the root disk.
Most of them are ruledout when booting the system in single user mode.
To do so login as root and issue:
[root@server1 ~]# telinit 1

This causes the system into single user mode and doing so terminating most of the services. You'll find yourself logged on as root.
However, probably there will be still some services running.
To check them out:
sh-3.2# service --status-all|grep runnnig

This will list all possibly running (or explictly stated "not running" services.
You can stop services by:
sh-3.2# service iscsid stop

Stop all running services and kill all p
Then you can try to remount the root volume rewritable:
sh-3.2# mount -n -o remount,ro -t ext3 /dev/VolGroup00/LogVol00 /

If that succeeds then you can zerofree the filesystem by:
zerofree /dev/VolGroup00/LogVol00
After this we're ready to compact the disk. You can shutdown the system by issueing the command:
sh-3.2# init 0

Go to the VirtualBox install directory again in a command window.
To compact the disk, VitualBox has the command:
VboxManage modifyhd <path to the VDI disk file> --compact

For example:
c:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox>VboxManage modifyhd "c:\Users\makker\VirtualBox VMs\PTS_WebCenter_PS4\PTS_Webcenter_PS4-disk1.vdi" --compact

After a while the file is probaly a lot smaller.

A first blog in a long time and it became quite a story. I feel like it looks like a little VirtualBox and Oracle Enterprise Linux administration course.

The last few months I created several VM's with environments to do courses (Virtual Course Environments I call them). And several of these tasks help me with this. In fact, see it as a toolbox of VCE creation. And the 30GB VM? Exported to an OVA file it is only 11GB now...