Creating a Virtual Machine image for use at GEC Tutorials

Software for use by tutorial attendees is distributed as a VirtualBox VM image running the Ubuntu OS. This page describes the procedure used to create this VM image.


Start this process at least two weeks before the scheduled tutorial.

Creating the VM

  • Use the latest version of VirtualBox
  • Use the default VM configuration provided by VirtualBox. If the default base memory for the VM is less than 2048MB, up it to 2048MB.

Installing the OS

  • Check the exercises to verify what OS and version number is preferred for the used tools. Ubuntu has been a safe choice. Latest version of the OS isn't necessarily a safe choice.
  • After installing the OS, install VirtualBox Guest Additions for the guest OS (e.g. Ubuntu). Be sure to set "Shared Clipboard" to "Bidirectional" to enable cut-and-paste between the host and guest OS (and vice versa). This can be found under "Devices" on the VirtualBox menu.
  • Create a user account (usually geni) with an easy to remember password. Change the User Account settings so "Automatic Login" is ON for this user. (Note: You must press "Unlock" on the User Account settings before trying to change the settings. It will prompt you for your password).
    • Usually one user account on the VM is sufficient for the tutorial as tutorial organizers create multiple accounts at a GENI Slice Authority and install credentials for these accounts on the VM. Tutorial attendees log in to the one user account on the VM and are given a separate username (used to create an account with a slice authority) to access the credentials loaded on the VM.
    • If multiple user accounts are necessary, make sure they are set up the same (same default shell, etc.)
  • Make bash the default shell for the user account(s) (check the /etc/passwd file)
  • Create a Tutorials subdirectory in the user home directory(-ies) and in it create subdirectories for each of the tutorials. Tutorial specific software (scripts, configuration files, etc.) go in these directories.
  • Make sure vi and Emacs are installed.
  • Set the default background image to be the GENI logo.
  • Install Firefox and make it the default browser.
  • Install the Firefox firessh addon.
  • Install Flash; make sure it works with the default browser (and that you can load Flack at
  • Set browser bookmarks:;; etc.
  • You might want to set the VM to use Google's DNS as its primary. We had trouble with slow DNS resolution at a GEC (the hotel's primary DNS was down and so all requests had to time out first before going to a secondary). Instructions at
  • Set the security exceptions in the used browsers for the commonly used sites (,,, etc.)

Installing software for tutorials

  1. Install all the software, tools and credentials you might need to be included in the VM
  2. Export the VM as an ova file
  3. Test the exercises from the VM (make sure to take a snapshot)
  4. If needed fix problems
    1. load a clean image from the saved ova
    2. fix problems
    3. go back to 2

Clean up the image before exporting

Distributing the VM image

  • Publish the Gold Image for download by tutorial attendees.
  • Email everybody signed up for tutorials asking them to download and install the VM image BEFORE the Tutorial
Last modified 9 years ago Last modified on 09/20/13 10:53:50