Ubuntu 10.10 in VMWare

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Get Ubuntu

Ubuntu is available as a VMWare guest image from the VMWare site. There are a few different distributions there. For this install I chose Ubuntu 10.10 Desktop from chrysaor.info. It provides a pre-configured guest image with an older version of VMWare tools installed. We'll have to do some additional configuration to get it to work better in a virtual environment with Mac hardware.

First Launch

Decompress the guest image tar.gz file, drag it onto the VMWare "Virtual Machine Library" window to add it to your OS list. Boot it up! You should shortly arrive at a login prompt with a user named "user" already listed. Choose this user and enter the password "chrysaor.info" to log in. Welcome to Ubuntu Desktop!

Change the User Password

Changing the username is a lot of hassle and can cause troubles if not done properly, but changing the password is easy. Later on we can create a new admin account and delete 'user' altogether. To change the password, click on "user" at the top-right of the screen and select About Me... from the menu. In the dialog that appears, click Change Password... to do the deed.

Change the Keyring Password

Open up System > Preferences > Passwords and Encryption Keys'. At the top of the list is the entry Passwords:login. Right-click this item and select Change Password from the menu. The old password is "chrysaor.info" - same as the user password. This password is used to protect the login passwords you use for other services, and some apps like "Gwibber" might ask for it.

Get the Latest Updates

Ubuntu is configured to automatically check for updates each day. As of this writing the update definitions on my Ubuntu install are 84 days old, so an update is probably going to be very helpful! From the panel menu at the top of the screen choose System > Administration > Update Manager to see a list of available updates. Just click Install Updates to update everything. When all the updates have been installed choose Reboot to boot from the latest system and complete the update process.

Set Your Timezone

Out of the box your Date/Time and Location will be incorrect. Select System > Administration > Time and Date to set your location and fix the time. You'll need to click the lock at the bottom of the dialog and enter your password to make changes. Click on the Time Zone button. (You may find it easier to click on the map instead of scrolling through a long menu. Ubuntu (at least as-configured) doesn't accept keystrokes when navigating menus, so it's an extra hassle.)

Select a Keyboard Layout

On my Intel Core 2 Duo MacBook 2,1 Ubuntu doesn't quite get the right keystrokes. For example it uses fancy quotes when I type the quote key. Clearly a problem. Fortunately Ubuntu includes support for different keyboard layouts, including several Mac models. Choose System > Preferences > Keyboard and do the following:

  • Open the Keyboard Preferences panel
  • Click the Layouts tab
  • Click the Add... button to add a new layout
  • Click the By language tab
  • Choose English and USA Macintosh then click the Add button
  • Click the Keyboard model button, which may read "Generic 105-key (Intl) PC"
  • Choose Apple and Apple Laptop and click OK
  • Click Apply System-Wide... to make the change global
  • If the change doesn't take, use the Keyboard menu (labeled "USA") at the top

Install VMWare User Agent

VMWare drivers are already installed by Chrysaor.info, but VMWare User Agent apparently provides GUI tools for VMWare. To install it, go to Applications > Ubuntu Software Center and use the search box to find VMWare User Agent in the Get Software list. Click Install to install it! You may be asked whether you want to Keep or Replace some items. Choose Replace in all cases. A launcher for VMWare User Agent will be placed into the Applications > Other menu. This only does something if vmware-user isn't already running, which it should be. IT may help to reboot after installing this.

Set up Compositing

VMWare Fusion 2.x doesn't include OpenGL rendering for Linux guests, so any compositing for shadow and translucency effects has to be rendered in software. To enable this, and be able to use programs like "AWN" and "Docky" that require it, you have two options:

Metacity Compositing

Metacity is the default window manager in Gnome. It contains its own software compositing engine for those situations that require it. It looks a lot better than X Composition Manager, if only because it adds drop shadows to windows. To enable the built-in compositing of Metacity just use the following command in Applications > Accessories > Terminal. It will persist from then on for that user.

gconftool-2 -s -t bool /apps/metacity/general/compositing_manager true

To disable Metacity compositing just set the flag to false:

gconftool-2 -s -t bool /apps/metacity/general/compositing_manager false

X Composition Manager

Go to Applications > Ubuntu Software Center, search for "xcomp" and install the X composition manager' in the list.

The composition manager is installed but won't start automatically by default. Ideally it should start up before login and persist through all sessions. But for now just add it to System > Preferences > Startup Applications. Name the item X Composition Manager and set the Command to xcompmgr.

Add a Panic Button

Software-based composition managers can be glitchy sometimes, leaving opaque artifacts or parts of menus and windows on the screen. So I recommend adding a launcher item to the top panel to cycle the running composition manager in case things get weird.

You'll need to first create a script named /usr/local/bin/restart-compositor.sh which you should also make executable by all. Depending on which Composition Manager you're using, use one of these scripts:

# Metacity
gconftool-2 -s -t bool /apps/metacity/general/compositing_manager false
sleep 1
gconftool-2 -s -t bool /apps/metacity/general/compositing_manager true
# X Composition Manager
pkill xcompmgr
xcompmgr >&/dev/null &

Next right-click on the top panel and choose Add to Panel... from the contextual menu. Choose Custom Application Launcher from the list and click Add to proceed. Set the Type to Application, the Name to "Fix Screen Glitches," and the Command to /usr/local/bin/restart-compositor.sh. Click OK to create the launcher. You should see a new icon in the top panel which you can click to restart the composition manager anytime!

Connect with Ubuntu One

Go to System > Preferences > Ubuntu One and sign up for an Ubuntu One cloud service account.

Set up Messaging Accounts

Go to Applications > Internet > Empathy Internet Messaging and add all your IM accounts. Services include Jabber, Yahoo!, Google Talk, MSN, AIM, and MySpace. Here's a list of mine for reference:

  • Facebook: thinkyhead
  • AIM: slahteine@mac.com, slurslee
  • MSN: slahteine@mac.com
  • Yahoo!: slurslee
  • Google Talk: slahteine@gmail.com
  • MySpace: myspace@thinkyhead.com

Set Up Broadcast Accounts

Go to Applications > Internet > Gwibber Social Client and add all your broadcasting and sharing accounts. Remember to click Add after authorizing each one, or it won't be saved!

Set Up Local Hostnames

Go to Terminal in Mac OS X and use issue the following command to see the existing network interfaces:

ifconfig vmnet8

You will get some output that looks like this:

        ether 00:50:56:c0:00:08
        inet netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast

The important IP address is the first one, in this case From within VMWare this connects to the Mac OS X loopback interface ( on the Mac side). So open Applications > Accessories > Text Editor and use it to open the /etc/hosts file. Add entries like the following, according to your own setup within Mac OS X. If you've set up the Mac hosts file then you just need to copy and modify the entries there.	local.host	drupal.loc	wiki.thinkyhead.loc	d7.loc	drupal5.loc	sql.loc	serials.loc

Issues Encountered

  • New user's desktop doesn't respond to window resizing like the 'user' account does.
  • Changing the resolution of the 'root' account doesn't affect the login screen resolution.
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