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Linux VM adventures

My new work laptop has Windows 7 Pro at base, which we need at some point, so for Linux we've been trying to put Linux into a VMware Workstation. Since I use Arch, I tried for Arch, even though it's not listed as supported. It's been a fun couple of days. Some of that my own fault: though I did wonder about boot information, I missed the "choose and install bootloader" instructions three times running. Some, well, while Arch does tell you to enable dhcp, you have to click through and read everything; it's easy to think it's up by default.

Then there's VM Tools. Supposedly even VMWare tells you to use "open-vm-tools" rather than what they provide, but a couple webpages said certain features would work with the official tools. But its installation script failed straight out of the ISO, on a clean install. That's never good...

There's a site OSBoxes.org, which provides VMWare and VirtualBox images of various OSes. No idea who they are, and I'd be paranoid about trusting some unknown OS image. OTOH, I did end up downloading a few to see if things would work at all -- Arch CLI, Arch KDE, Ubuntu.

Discovery: don't think I like KDE or Ubuntu's UI, but the latter did have full screen and cut-and-paste between Linux and Windows. The Arch ones didn't seem to, so it didn't seem worth trying to track down a difference in configuration.

One cool thing about VMs is that you get to treat 'machines' as documents. I'd started making copies and snapshots, and when messing around with official VM Tools failed and broke things, I was able to pop back to an instance before that. Woo.

And with that, trying open-vm-tools again *very carefully* and avoiding conflicting paths, I got shared folders working -- even without the auxiliary tool the docs said I would need. Sweet! But fullscreen and pasting still didn't work.

OTOH, by default I use startx and the ancient environment of twm. xfwm4 didn't 'work' either. Finally I tried Cinnamon... the window manager of which promptly crashes. But the session hangs around, and voila! fullscreen and paste! So I guess I'm going to need some sort of full session for this thing, not just a WM.

Also twm was able to take over the apps, and then the Failsafe Desktop or something becomes a window managed by twm. That's just surreal.

LXDE was happier starting from startx, and that's what I've got now.

Still missing: touchpad scrolling, which is a big loss. Hope I can get it...

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Damien Sullivan
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