If you’re like me, you’ll have a few virtual machines in the stable on your main desktop computer, which isn’t always the best place for them. Virtual hard drives take up tons of room, and the machine itself will be a big resource drain on the host system. This task is ideally suited to a server, and if you use VirtualBox it’s easy to port your desktop VMs to the cloud, freeing up hard drive space, wiping out the resource toll and making the virtual machine accessible from any computer.
This technique is also really useful for tricky to install virtual machines, particularly those with installers requiring multiple floppy disks, which can be set up with ease on a GUI machine and then sent to the server for archiving/remote access.
i: Check Your Specs
Before opening any terminals or remote anything, you need to open VirtualBox on your desktop computer (I’m using Mac OS X but this process will be exactly the same under Windows or Linux). For this example, I’ll be porting a virtual machine containing Windows NT 4. Again, this will work fine for any guest OS.
When VirtualBox opens to the ‘VirtualBox Manager’ screen, highlight the machine you wish to port. The specs of the machine will appear in the right hand pane of the window (see fig 1).
fig. 1 – Check the specs of your VM
We need to recreate this environment as closely as possible on the server to maximise compatibility. Most of the time you’ll be using the default VBox hardware selection, but you still need to make sure that you match the other details with as much accuracy as possible.