HOWTO: Run a gNewSense Virtual Machine in seamless mode using VirtualBox OSE

Sunday 26 April 2009 - Filed under Default

In this HOWTO I’m going to take you through running gNewSense, a 100% free operating system, on top of your currently installed operating system. This HOWTO mentions how to run gNewSense on top of Ubuntu and Windows though it’s possible to run it on any OS that runs VirtualBox OSE. This HOWTO will only add 100% free-as-in-speech software to your computer because I believe free software provides the best way to run your computer.

A rough overview of the process is:

1. Download and install VirtualBox OSE.

2. Download gNewSense.

3. Install gNewSense inside a VirtualBox Virtual Machine

4. Set it to run in seamless mode.

And now for the full HOWTO:

1. Ubuntu users: To download and install VirtualBox OSE, Ubuntu users can start Synaptic with System -> Administration -> Synaptic Package Manager.

2. Then search for the virtualbox-ose package, mark it for installation, and click Apply at the top.

– or –

1. Windows users: Download the VBox Open Source Edition that has been compiled for Windows at:

2. Run the VBoxSetup-____.exe to install.


3. Download the latest gNewSense ISO file from:

You can also use FUSBi( ) to download and make a bootable USB drive so you’re ready to boot or install gNewSense whenever necessary. For the rest of this HOWTO, I’m assuming you have the ISO downloaded to your desktop.

4. Create a new Virtual Machine in VirtualBox in which to install gNewSense:

a. Start VirtualBox and click New.
b. Click Next and type gNewSense in for the name.
c. For the Operating System choose Linux and for Version choose Ubuntu then click Next.
d. You can accept the recommended base memory or increase it depending how much RAM you have in your machine. Click Next.(I have 2gb of RAM in this laptop and like to give at least 512mb of RAM to the Virtual Machine. I wouldn’t put much less than 256mb.)
e. Now to create a virtual hard disk, click New, then Next.
f. Leave Dynamically expanding storage selected and click Next. This makes a file that will grow in size only as needed up to the maximum you select on the next screen.
g. You can leave the default location and default size and click Next and Finish, then Next and Finish again. Now you’ll have a new Virtual Machine that’s almost ready to boot.

5. Set the new virtual machine to boot from the iso you downloaded:

a. With your new virtual machine selected in VirtualBox, click CD/DVD-ROM.
b. Check Mount CD/DVD drive and the ISO Image File option.
c. Click the folder in the ISO Image File option to add an iso to Virtual Box’s library.
d. Click Add and navigate to your desktop to select the gNewSense .iso file you downloaded and click Open.
e. Click Select and Ok to finish getting the ISO ready. Now we’re ready to boot and install gNewSense.

6. Install gNewSense by clicking Start on your virtual machine and then follow the directions here: At this point you should have gNewSense running and be able to login to it.

7. Now in the Virtual Machine’s window click Devices -> Install Guest Additions. This will mount a virtual cd in gNewSense which will popup.

8. Inside gNewSense, click Accessories -> Terminal and run:

sudo /media/cdrom/

9. Restart gNewSense and login. When your desktop comes up you can press your right Ctrl key with the L key to enable seamless mode or select Seamless mode from the Machine menu.

So there we have it. In seamless mode, you will be able to use all the applications inside gNewSense on the same screen as your host operating system’s programs. If you value software freedom you’ll try to run as many things provided by gNewSense as possible and to replace your host operating system with gNewSense as soon as possible. Do not lose sight of the goal of running gNewSense and free software exclusively on your computer.

Tagged: » » »

2009-04-26  »  David Sterry