Many people may know Windows has a subst.exe command which allows you to temporarily substitute a folder on your computer for another drive letter.
Windows 7 (may be available on other operating systems too, it’s probably alway been there but I’ve not noticed it before!) has an additional interesting feature that lets you map a complete hard drive to a virtual folder on another drive. Assuming you have two drives in your computer, To enable this, first go to Control Panel > System and Security > Create and format Disk Partitions. This loads up the disk management console:
From here, right click on the drive you want to mount as a virtual directory, and select ‘Change Drive letter and paths”:
To mount a partition as a virtual directory first the existing drive assignment must be removed. Click on the existing drive letter and select the Remove button. Assuming you’ve read the warning about removing a drive letter assignment and clicked yes to remove, enter the drive letter assignment menu again, and this time select the ‘Add’ button. (Tip: you must create a directory first, click the New Folder button under the Browse for directory dialog to create one.)
Click ok and open Windows explorer. It is now possible to see this directory as a linked folder:
This is especially useful to extend the space on an existing machine while not requiring operating system upgrades, re-installs and so on.
Samba makes it easier to access your files from Windows and other operating systems. It can also be very complicated to install and configure! As with most things on Linux there are several ways of doing this. A Samba client is installed by default with Redhat. However to allow a Windows machine to connect to your Redhat shares a Samba Server is required.
Like most software on Linux, the piece of software you want to install (Samba Server) depends on some other modules that are not installed. To get Samba installed you must first install these other modules.
In this case, fortunately they are all available at the same location. Save the
required files to your desktop before double clicking on them in turn to
install the rpm. You can ignore warnings about unsigned RPM’s and install
In this configuration, the modules you must download and install (in order) are:
This completes the installation of Samba. The next step is to configure it so that it can be used. Using a root user terminal window, navigate to /etc/samba.
Using gedit, modify the smb.conf file. This is the global configuration file for Samba. There are a bewildering number of options here that may or may not be relevant to a particular installation. Refer to the Samba documentation for more details. In this example a simple share will be created. Enter the data into the file listed in image smb.conf.
Save and close the editor.
The next step is to add a user to the samba database.
The login and samba user databases are different, and so alternative logins can
be used. However, to keep things simple
the same username and password will be added into the Samba database.
At this point Samba is installed and configured but is
still not running. It’s best to ensure that Samba is started on bootup – that
way you don’t have to start it every time you start the machine.
You can do this by running a command ‘chkconfig’ at the terminal prompt:
Restarting the virtual machine will now start the Samba
service. However, if you want to start it immediately you can do this by issuing the command manually. You can also check that it’s running afterwards by using the ‘ps’ command:
That’s it, Samba is installed configured and running!
You can check your installation is available by finding
your ip adress and connecting to it from your Windows machine. To do this, first find out your ip address by running the command /sbin/ifconfig
Now, open Windows explorer on your desktop and navigate to \\<ipaddress> e.g \\10.120.10.10. When prompted for username and password enter the same username and password as you entered when adding them to the Samba
Now connected, you can browse create and delete directories in your home directory.
Brought up on Windows, most people think of Linux as an alien platform. As such, they tend to think it must be really difficult to work with Linux. Over some forthcoming posts, I will show just how easy it can be to install and setup Linux. That’s not to say that there aren’t some complicated configuration options available – indeed these options can be very powerful, but there are complicated configuration options available on Windows too! Here I am going through a basic OS configuration and will enable a couple of other things as well to show how straight forward it can be to administer your own Linux machine. I will use Redhat Enterprise for this demo, but the same principles apply whatever your Linux distribution. I am using a virtual machine technology from Oracle called Virtualbox for this demo. As a tester, this means I can set up multiple machine configurations and environments that suit my needs accordingly.
VirtualBox is an operating system virtualisation program that allows you to emulate a full computer system on your desktop. There are other virtualisation technologies available, including VMWare and Hyper-V, and the process is quite similar with all of these. Virtual Disks created in VirtualBox can be imported into any of these programs. To get started, download the latest version and install it. Once installed, start the program from the Start menu.
In our example we will install Redhat from an .iso image that we have previously obtained.
Create a new Virtual Machine
From the front end of Virtualbox, click the ‘New’ button. This will start the new
virtual machine wizard. Select Next, then enter the OS type and the name you want to call the machine. Be sure to select 64 bit if you have a 64 bit OS image/CD.
Select the memory that the Virtual machine will use. 512mb is probably sufficient for a basic install of Linux, but you can give the machine more memory if you wish – it will certainly help performance!
The default options for the ‘add hard disk’ wizard should be fine. Click Next after ensuring ‘Create new hard disk’ is selected. In this Wizard, select the default options. The only thing you may wish to change is the size of the hard disk. If you have the space it is recommended to create a 30-40 gb drive as this will give your new system room to grow. Click ‘ Finish’ to close the wizard.
One more change you should make is in the networking settings. Select ‘Settings’ for the Virtual Machine and find the networking section. Change the adapter type from ‘NAT’ to ‘Bridged’.
This will ensure you can get a real IP address from your DHCP server.
Installing Linux (Redhat)
Select the Machine you have just created and press the ‘Start’ button on the toolbar. This will start the ‘first run’ wizard.
On the installation media page select the browse button and navigate to your ISO image. If you have a DVD image you can select the drive here instead.
Close the wizard by selecting Next, then Finish. This will start the machine, booting from the CD image.
Once the installer starts, press Enter to begin the installation. You can generally skip the media test section and proceed straight to the installation section. To do this press tab until ‘Skip’ is highlighted and press Enter.
Once the graphical mode installer starts, you can mostly go straight through the wizard clicking Next – the menus are fairly self-explanatory.
If you do not have a Redhat installation number to hand, you can select skip and enter it later.
You will see a message about unreadable data – this is because the virtual hard disk has not yet been formatted. Clicking ‘Yes’ will do this for you.
For the network settings page, you can leave all the options at their default and click next.
The next page asks for a root password. Enter something you can remember. This is equivalent to adding a user to the system administrators group on Windows.
When the option is offered to include extra software for Software development, ensure you tick the option before clicking next.
Go and make a cup of your favourite beverage (tea/coffee/gin etc) – the system
will then install, taking a while so an ideal opportunity to catch up on some reading or make some lunch. After a little while you should see a screen which signifies that you have finished installing the operating system.
Once the system has rebooted there are just a couple more settings and personal preferences still to complete. You can mostly just click ‘Next’, but you may wish to either disable the firewall on the appropriate page if you are on an internal network. If you keep the firewall and SeLinux enabled, you will need to open any ports you intend to use – and be sure to add Samba as a trusted service.
When you advance to the ‘Create User’ page, be sure to add a user:
That’s it! – once the wizard is finished you can log in as the user you just created.
I recently downloaded the developer preview version of Windows 8 and installed it into a Virtual machine. Obviously I was expecting some teething problems as I installed it, and I got them!.
First problem was that I downloaded the 64 bit version, with the intention of trying this in Oracle VirtualBox, however I could not get as far as the setup before it crashed with an unrecoverable error!.
Not to be deterred, I downloaded the 32 bit version instead. At this point I thought I’d try it in Virtual PC instead, the thought being that a Microsoft product is more likely to work with a Microsoft Virtualisation engine than an Oracle one!. When I tried this version in VPC, I entered the setup only to find an error “HAL_INITIALIZATION_FAILED”. Again, I was stopped dead!
I did get the 32 bit version installed and working under VirtualBox, and I did get the 64 bit version working on a Hyper-V instance.. This enabled me to get it installed and up and running…
During the install, I found some interesting things. One thing that could be nice is the ability to log in via a Windows Live ID. This should mean that things like bookmarks, favourites, personal settings etc should all be synchronised between devices. I guess that could be useful, although probably not if you have a Windows 8 computer and an iPhone/Android I guess! 🙂
Having gone through the setup options which are mostly very similar to other Windows installations, I was presented with the Welcome/login screen. This is much prettier than previous versions of Windows so I thought I’d share it!
Windows 8 Welcome Screen
So, from beginning starting to install the Virtual Machine to being ready to login took a little under 20 minutes – this is much quicker than previous versions of Windows, easily as quick as if not quicker than most Linux installations that I’ve done, and I’m told is quicker than a Mac install, although I’ve no personal experience of this. Next post will concentrate on some things that looked a bit different to previous Windows versions once I logged in.
Nicks general ramblings about anything and everything
Nick is a resourceful and skilled test manager with 18 years of experience in software testing and currently working for a company dedicated to leveraging and extending the COBOL resources already in place in thousands of code shops around the globe. This has provided the opportunity to work on a large number of differing projects – from testing compilers to IDE’s across multiple platforms, to emerging technologies such as web 2.0, Cloud and .NET, through all phases of the development life cycle. Experienced in traditional waterfall development methodologies, as well as more modern development ideologies. Recent experience has included performing scrum master duties in an agile environment and managing the workload of cross-functional on-shore and off-shore development teams. Currently leading a small team devoted to improving and extending the development build and test infrastructure. The opinions and positions expressed on this website are my own and don’t necessarily reflect
those of my employer.