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In the lab of my college, when I start a computer, after the boot it appears a screen with virtualbox logo that ask to my wich os i want to start and I can choose windows or linux. If i login in any of this os, and then i shutdown the os I'll be redirected again to this screen, in wich there is also the real button to shutdown the pc. Each pc has it's own configurations, settings and storage memory. There are about 30 pc.

This architecture is working also if the computer is not connected to any network (I've tried with lan cable detached).

So it seems that virtual box is working as an os, like vsphere, but of course it's not in this way.

I'd like to achieve the same result on my home pc. But I don't know what to search on google and how to do this.

I'm already able to create a classic dual boot, but I want to learn this way for my personal knowledge.

I've found this following link on google, but onestly I haven't figure out so much from there.

1) link 1 2) link 2

Does anyone knows an exact procedure to do this? Could you explain what they have done?

The tech guy don't want to explain how they did :-(

The only things that I've found on internet is how to start virtualbox as a service on startup. But I think that this is something that has to happen on boot instead of after the os start.

Thank you very much

  • What you’re looking at is a Thin Client setup. VirtualBox is actually running on a big machine in some cabinet, you’re just remoting in. This is probably not what you’d want at home. – Daniel B Apr 20 '17 at 20:07
  • How this is possible also if the pc is not connected on any network neither via wifi or cable? – user2548436 Apr 20 '17 at 20:09
  • I very much doubt it isn’t connected to anything, that would be pretty useless today. But whatever. If you can, please provide a photo of that selection screen. All in all, this sounds like a very adventurous solution. – Daniel B Apr 20 '17 at 20:13
  • I can imagine booting up a very small linux distro, which starts the vbox front end..... However, your first link is about running headless. This definitely isn't what you want. Headless is running without a monitor. – djsmiley2k - CoW Apr 20 '17 at 20:58
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There is no single program that does this, so you need a sequence of steps.

Since it is a bit complex, I will just sketch what you need to do. Presumably, it is more complex in your college lab, because suitable virtual disks need to be created and/or retrieved on the fly for each user, so that there needs to be a central repository and so on. But in the case of single user pc there is no such problem. You do not need the references above.

You need to install a version of Linux, then install VirtualBox, then:

  1. enable graphical autologin. This depends on your Display Manager. I do not know what you have, but basically it is very simple: for lightDM, for instance, you find instructions here.

  2. donwload a program called dialog: this allows you to create a graphic display with several options, to each of which corresponds a command. Configure it so that it displays the VirtualBox logo, and a choice of VMs. For each choice make sure the following command is executed:

    VBoxManage startvm NameOfVirtualMachine
    
  3. Now write a Bash script (let's call it my_script) that never ends (while true; do....) which executes the dialog command as per the above, and which catches interrupts (see here if you do not know how to do it). This prevents users from accessing the host OS. Make the script executable,

    chmod 755 my_script
    
  4. make sure the script above is executed at login, by editing (or creating, if it does not exists) a file called .bash_login which contains the command:

    /path/to/my_script
    
  • If I want to access to host in order to make some changes, what I've to do? – user2548436 Apr 24 '17 at 12:35
  • @user2548436 Easiest thing: when the gui shows up, go to a console (Ctrl+Alt+F1), login. If you want, you can now start a GUI by: 1. moving .bash_login to .bash_login_temp, then 2. startx :2, which starts a graphical session on console number 2 (go there by means of Ctrl+Alt+F2). – MariusMatutiae Apr 24 '17 at 13:48
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The answer to your actual question would be too long and not according to rules... But I can answer a part of it: the operating systems you use there, are most likely stored on a server and the computer you're incidentally using just accesses those remote systems. So if you want exactly the same solution, you'd need your own server or rent one.

But honestly, I highly doubt, even if you could make one at your home, that this setup makes sense for personal use. Why not just use multi-boot on your PC?

  • Is my question off topic in this forum? It's better to move on stackoverflow? How it could be possible that this is working also if the lan cable is not attached and the computer is working "standalone"? – user2548436 Apr 20 '17 at 19:56
  • It's not that. The problem is that the questions should be answerable in a limited amount of words. But you specifically asked for a detailed how to and this would break the scope of an expected answer here, according to rules. Same applies to stackoverflow and alike. – Akito Apr 20 '17 at 19:57
  • @user2548436 And as a standalone solution as you described it, I recommend even stronger to just use multi-booting. – Akito Apr 20 '17 at 19:59
  • I've just edited my question, could you please point me on what looking for on google? – user2548436 Apr 20 '17 at 20:01

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