Lubuntu on Windows Virtual PC

For my second Linux distro to try out in Windows 7 Virtual PC I wanted to try an X-Windows based desktop distro. I chose Lubuntu for two reasons, it is very lightweight and I am somewhat familiar with recent Ubuntu installations.

Searching around the web I found that many people never get X-Windows running at greater than 800×600 resolution. There also appears to have been a problem with using 24bit color on earlier versions of Virtual PC. Having done quick test installs for a few different distros I found that X installs on WVPC end up at 800x600x24 and run OK. For my usage 800×600 is just too small and 24 bit color is not needed (I don’t expect to watch video or view/edit images in a VM). So I’ve set a target of getting X to run at 1024x768x16 for all desktop client distros that I’ll use. The larger screen size makes it practical to use multiple windows for finding solutions on the web and copying text from the web browser to a terminal or text editor to save on typing.

Another common problem I see people having is getting the middle mouse button (X button 2) and scroll wheel (X buttons 4 & 5) to work. Scrolling with the wheel and opening new Firefox tabs with a middle button click have become essential to me so this is the other major target for all my VMs. Unless I can get the mouse wheel/button and 1024×768 working I won’t consider a distro to be functional for me in WVPC.

The final problem I’ve seen many web sites mention is the use of dynamic virtual disks. A dynamic disk saves space on your host PC by keeping the file small while still allowing it to grow as needed. Most sites say to only use the fixed disk type in VPC however these sites are working with older versions of VPC, not WVPC, and older distros. The first VM I documented using was created with a dynamic disk and all of the VMs I’ve created myself work fine using a dynamic disk. I suspect the problem no longer applies to recent distros/kernels and WVPC. I did find one case where a dynamic disk did not work, I tried to expand the size of the Q&D LAMP VM by creating a larger virtual disk and using Clonezilla to copy the old disk into the new one. Clonezilla said it worked but when I looked at the size of the new dynamic disk it was clear it hadn’t worked. In that situation I had to use a fixed size virtual disk to make the cloning work.

The rest of this post is primarily a description of the steps I took to get Lubuntu 13.10 running in Windows Virtual PC. If you don’t want to perform these steps yourself you can download an archive containing the virtual disk and settings files. Simply extract the files to your virtual machines folder (usually C:UsersxxxxxxAppDataLocalMicrosoftWindows Virtual PCVirtual Machines where xxxxxx is your user name) and then run the VM. The archive, Lubuntu_13_1_upd8.7z, contains Lubuntu_13_1_upd8.vmc (settings) and Lubuntu_13_1_upd8.vhd (virtual disk). For this pre-made VHD I used these settings for names and password:  Name: W7VPC, PC Name: w7vpc-Virtual-Machine, Username: w7vpc, Password: w7vpc2014, and set it to Log in automatically.

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