Ubuntu Server + Fluxbox on Mac OSX using VirtualBox


Update, April 20, 2014:
Here's a newer version of this post, with a downloadable vdi package


I like Mac OSX as a general computing environment, but I prefer Debian (and more recently Ubuntu) for development.

Instead of running my Mac in dual-boot mode, I tried using VirtualBox to run Ubuntu Desktop.

Unfortunately, the virtual image was unusable: even at two gigabytes of memory (the most allowed by the vm) it was painfully slow, and using the dash was basically impossible.

But since my development environment consists mostly of ROXTerm and emacs, I wanted to see how Ubuntu Server plus a lightweight window manager such as Fluxbox would work instead.

Fluxbox running like a champ on Ubuntu Server in VirtualBox

Fluxbox running like a champ on Ubuntu Server in VirtualBox

It's been terrific so far, and the setup was simple:

  1. After downloading the Ubuntu Server iso file, I created a new virtual image and used the iso as the base media
  2. Once installed, I followed the instructions for setting up Fluxbox without a login manager:
    sudo apt-get install xorg fluxbox fluxconf
  3. Then, I started Fluxbox for the first time:
    startx
  4. For the Guest Additions installation, I installed these packages first:
    apt-get install dkms build-essential linux-headers-generic
    And then requested the guest additions from the VirtualBox menu: Devices -> Install Guest Additions which "loads" the guest additions virtual disk. Under gnome or kde the disk gets mounted automatically, but in Fluxbox I had to mount it myself before running the install script:
    sudo mount /dev/dvd /media/cdrom
    cd /media/cdrom
    sudo sh ./VBoxLinuxAdditions.run