Monday 2 December 2019

Create a Vagrant box with Oracle Linux 7 Update 7 Server with GUI

Yesterday and today I have been attending the UKOUG TechFest '19 in Brighton. And it got me eager to try things out. For instance with new Oracle DB 19c features. And therefor I should update my vagrant boxes to be able to install one. But I realized my basebox is still on Oracle Linux 7U5, and so I wanted to have a neatly fresh, latest OL 7U7 box.

Use Oracle's base box

Now, last year I wrote about how to create your own Vagrant Base Box: Oracle Linux 7 Update 5 is out: time to create a new Vagrant Base Box. So I could create my own, but already quite some time ago I found out that Oracle supplies those base boxes.

They're made available at, and there are boxes for OL6, OL7 and even OL8. I want to use OL 7U7, and thus I got started with that one. It's neatly described at the mentioned link and it all comes down to:

$ vagrant box add --name <name> <url>
$ vagrant init <name>
$ vagrant up
$ vagrant ssh

And in my case:

$ vagrant box add --name ol77
$ vagrant init ol77
$ vagrant up
$ vagrant ssh

Before you do that vagrant up, you might want to edit your vagrant file, to add a name for your VM:
# All Vagrant configuration is done below. The "2" in Vagrant.configure
# configures the configuration version (we support older styles for
# backwards compatibility). Please don't change it unless you know what
# you're doing.
Vagrant.configure("2") do |config|
  # The most common configuration options are documented and commented below.
  # For a complete reference, please see the online documentation at

  # Every Vagrant development environment requires a box. You can search for
  # boxes at = BOX_NAME


  # Provider-specific configuration so you can fine-tune various
  # backing providers for Vagrant. These expose provider-specific options.
  # Example for VirtualBox:
  config.vm.provider "virtualbox" do |vb| = VM_NAME
  #   # Display the VirtualBox GUI when booting the machine
  #   vb.gui = true
  #   # Customize the amount of memory on the VM:
  #   vb.memory = "1024"

Otherwise your VM name in Virtual box would be someting like ol7_default_1235897983, something cryptic with a random number.

If you do a vagrant up now it will boot up nicely.

VirtualBox Guest Additions

The VirtualBox GuestAdditions are from version 6.12, while my VirtualBox installation already has 6.14. I found it handy to have a plugin that auto-updates it. My co-Oracle-ACE Maarten Smeets wrote about that earlier. It comes down to executing the following in a command line:
vagrant plugin install vagrant-vbguest

If you do a vagrant up now, it will update the guest additions. However, to be able to do so, it needs to install all kinds of kernel packages to compile the drivers. So, be aware that this might take some time, and you'll need internet connection.

Server with GUI

The downloaded box is a Linux Server install, without a UI. This probably is fine for most of the installations you do. But I like to be able to log on to the desktop from time to time, and I want to be able to connect to that using MobaXterm, and be able to run a UI based installer or application. A bit of X-support is handy. How to do that, I found at this link.

GUI support is one of the group packages that are supported by Oracle Linux 7, and this works exactly the same as RHEL7 (wonder why that is?).

To list the available packages groups are supported, you can do:

[vagrant@localhost ~]$ sudo  yum group list
There is no installed groups file.
Maybe run: yum groups mark convert (see man yum)
Available Environment Groups:
   Minimal Install
   Infrastructure Server
   File and Print Server
   Cinnamon Desktop
   MATE Desktop
   Basic Web Server
   Virtualization Host
   Server with GUI
Available Groups:
   Backup Client
   Compatibility Libraries
   Console internet tools
   Development tools
   E-mail server
   Educational Software
   Electronic Lab
   Fedora Packager
   General Purpose Desktop
   Graphical Administration Tools
   Graphics Creation Tools
   Hardware monitoring utilities
   Input Methods
   Internet Applications
   KDE Desktop
   Legacy UNIX Compatibility
   Network Infrastructure Server
   Networking Tools
   Office Suite and Productivity
   Performance Tools
   Scientific support
   Security Tools
   Smart card support
   System Management
   System administration tools
   Technical Writing
   TurboGears application framework
   Web Server
   Web Servlet Engine

(After having executed vagrant ssh.)
You'll find 'Server with GUI' as one of the options. This will install all the necessary packages to run Gnome. But, if you want to have KDE there's also package group for that.

To install it you would run:
[vagrant@localhost ~]$ sudo yum groupinstall 'Server with GUI'
There is no installed groups file.
Maybe run: yum groups mark convert (see man yum)
Resolving Dependencies
--> Running transaction check
---> Package ModemManager.x86_64 0:1.6.10-3.el7_6 will be installed
--> Processing Dependency: ModemManager-glib(x86-64) = 1.6.10-3.el7_6 for package: ModemManager-1.6.10-3.el7_6.x86_64
--> Processing Dependency: libmbim-utils for package: ModemManager-1.6.10-3.el7_6.x86_64
--> Processing Dependency: libqmi-utils for package: ModemManager-1.6.10-3.el7_6.x86_64
--> Processing Dependency: for package: ModemManager-1.6.10-3.el7_6.x86_64
 python-firewall                              noarch    0.6.3-2.0.1.el7_7.2                 ol7_latest            352 k
 systemd                                      x86_64    219-67.0.1.el7_7.2                  ol7_latest            5.1 M
 systemd-libs                                 x86_64    219-67.0.1.el7_7.2                  ol7_latest            411 k
 systemd-sysv                                 x86_64    219-67.0.1.el7_7.2                  ol7_latest             88 k

Transaction Summary
Install  303 Packages (+770 Dependent packages)
Upgrade               (   7 Dependent packages)

Total download size: 821 M
Is this ok [y/d/N]:

It will list a whole bunch of packages with dependencies that it will install. If you're up to it, at this point you would confirm with 'y'. Notice that there will be a bit over a 1000 packages installed, so it will be busy with that for a while.
This is because it will install the complete Gnome Desktop environment.
You could also do:
[vagrant@localhost ~]$ sudo yum groupinstall 'X Window System' 'GNOME'

That will install only the minimum, necessary packages to run Gnome. I did not try that yet.
If it finished installing all the packages, the one thing that is left, is to change the default runlevel, since obviously you want to start in the GUI by default. I think most in the cases, at least.
This is done by:
[vagrant@localhost ~]$ sudo systemctl set-default

I could have put that in a provision script, like I've done before. And maybe I will do that.

Package the box

You will have noticed that it would have stamped quite some time to update the kernel packages for installing the latest Guest Additons and the GUI desktop. To prevent us from doing that over and over again, I thought it was wise to package the box into a ol77SwGUI box (Server with GUI). I described that in my previous article last year:
vagrant package --base ol77_default_1575298630482_71883 --output d:\Projects\vagrant\boxes\

The result

This will deliver you a Vagrant Box/VirtualBox image with:
  • Provider: VirtualBox
  • 64 bit
  • 2 vCPUs
  • 2048 MB RAM
  • Minimal package set installed
  • 32 GiB root volume
  • 4 GiB swap
  • XFS root filesystem
  • Extra 16GiB VirtualBox disk image attached, dynamically allocated
  • Guest additions installed
  • Yum configured for Oracle Linux yum server. _latest and _addons repos enabled as well as _optional_latest, _developer, _developer_EPEL where available.
  • And as an extra addon: Server with GUI installed.
Or basically more or less what I have in may own base box. What I'm less happy with is the 16GiB extra disk image attached. I want a bigger disk for my installations, or at least the data. I'll need to figure out what I want to do with that. Maybe I add an extra disk and reformat the lot with a disk spanning Logical Volume based filesystem.


I found that that the box from Oracle lacks Video Memory to run VM in GUI mode. Because GUI wasn't in the VM, it 8 MB was sufficient.
I added the following to change the video memory:
  config.vm.provider "virtualbox" do |vb| = VM_NAME
  #   # Display the VirtualBox GUI when booting the machine
  #   vb.gui = true
  #   # Customize the amount of memory on the VM:
  #   vb.memory = "1024"
    vb.customize ["modifyvm", :id, "--vram", "128"]

Based on the hint found here on StackOverflow.
I also added this on my GitHub vagrant project.

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