Converting from VirtualBox VM’s to VMWare VM’s

Continuing my journey, here are a few hints and tips I picked up along the way on how to convert an existing VirtualBox virtual machine to VMWare’s vmdk format.

VirtualBox stores its VM’s in your home-folder in ~/VirtualBox. VMWare stores its virtuals in ~/vmware

The first hint to perform the conversion is to remove all snapshots. You need one single VDI to work with. So use the VirtualBox GUI to delete all snapshots.

Next you need to convert the VDI format to VMWare’s vmdk format. VirtualBox has a nice command line that does just this.

First change to the folder containing the VDI file of your VM:

cd ~/VirtualBox VMs/trusty

Next take the name of the VDI – in my case ubuntu.vdi and convert it. I’m going to store the converted VM in ~/Documents

VBoxManage clonehd "ubuntu.vdi" ~/Documents/ubuntu.vmdk --format vmdk --variant standard

Next create a blank Virtual Machine in VMWare Player. The key part here is to create the VM with a single hard-drive and the size must be slightly larger than the size in VirtualBox

1) Select: Create new Virtual Machine
Workspace 1_010

2) Select: “I will install the operating system later” followed by Next
3) Select Guest Operating OS (for example Linux) and select the version you have (for example “Ubuntu 64bit”)
4) Click “Next” and give a the virtual machine a name, for example “ubuntu”.
5) Click “Next” set the maximum disk size to the size (or larger) of your actual virtual machine (important!)
6) Click “Store virtual disk as a single file (important!)
New Virtual Machine Wizard_005
7) Click “Next”and click “Finish”. The VM is created
8) Move your VM (the .vmdk file) you converted and stored in ~/Documents over the created (empty) .vmdk
cd ~/vmware/ubuntu
mv ~/Documents/ubuntu.vmdk .

9) Play the virtual machine

uninstall the old virtualbox guest additions:

In the new ubuntu guest vm:

cd /opt/VBox[tab]/

i.e. press the Tab key to autocomplete the VBox folder name
N.B. choose the latest VBoxGuestAdditions folder

sudo ./

This will uninstall VBox GuestAdditions

Install VMWare Tools:

Use VMPlayers menu option to install the VMWare Tools Installer

Workspace 1_006

This will mount the drive. Next copy the VMWareTools-[version].tar.gz file to ~/Downloads
Workspace 1_007uncompress

cd ~/Downloads
tar -zxvf VMWareTools*.tar.gz
cd vmware-tools-distrib

Next install the dkms package to ensure that vmware kernel modules are automatically rebuilt when a new kernel is released.

sudo apt-get install dkms

Lets install the VMWare Tools

sudo ./

press Enter to all the defaults EXCEPT:

Would you like to enable VMware automatic kernel modules

type “yes” here

Shutdown the VM:

sudo shutdown now

CTRL+ALT to exit the VMPlayer if focus is grabbed.

Shared Folders:

You need to add shared folders by editing through the VMWare GUI:

Workspace 1_002

mapped folders are now in /mnt/hgfs whereas VirtualBox they were in /media/sf_Downloads

If you’ve got anything depended on the old drives the easiest was is to create a symbolic link to the new location

cd /media
sudo rmdir sf_Downloads
sudo ln -s /mnt/hgfs/Downloads sf_Downloads

3D Acceleration

For the majority of new graphics cards, 3D Acceleration is supported. You may need to install the proprietary NVIDIA/AMD drivers if you are using NVIDIA or AMD graphics respectively.

For me I’m using a fairly modern Intel graphics card in my laptop – but VMWare did not recognise this and kept throwing up 3D acceleration errors.

I got around this my adding the following to the .vmx file = "TRUE"

If you have install Unity you can test the 3D Acceleration support via running:

/usr/lib/nux/unity_support_test -p

This should report that “Unity 3D supported = True”

Syncing time:

Workspace 1_003

Closing a virtual machine:

Workspace 1_004



Installing VMWare tools is not the simple VirtualBox autorun and install method. Its a little complicated.

It gets worse. VMWare seldom updates its VMWare Tools – new versions of a kernel & distributions dont get support from VMWare itself until many months after the release.

There is a small community around the product that attempt to provide solutions – usually around applying patches to the source code.

An example of this official lack of support is Kernel 3.16 used in Utopic (14.10) – Shared Folder support is broken.

In my opinion – this is not on and shows a poor advertisement by VMWare for its tools & products. I use virtual machines to see and use the latest stuff. Why use VMWare when you can use a simple and well support VirtualBox – despite VirtualBox being flaky at best, at least Oracle tries to support its product quickly and efficiently.

However, saying all of this – I’ve been using VMWare Player for the last few weeks. Its rock solid – no crashes, no issues with Ubuntu 12.04 & Ubuntu 14.04 guests.

New Rhythmbox v3.1 release for 14.04 (trusty) and 14.10 (utopic) users

The official GTK 3.14 release of the Gnome stack of software was last week but what was missing was a new release of Rhythmbox.

Well its here – and unlike the last point releases, the maintainer has bumped the version – so we now have Rhythmbox v3.1.


Thanks to the key Rhythmbox maintainer Jonathan Matthew we have a good release that fixes a whole bunch of crashers and other issues..

This version doesnt have the usual code-name (the last one was called Devilfish) but this release contains the following:

Overview of changes in Rhythmbox 3.1

  • Assorted bug fixes
  • GTK+ 3.14 compatible
  • Now includes an AppData file
    Bugs fixed:
    637747 – “Edit > Preferences > General > Visibile Columns > BPM” missing mnemonic
    686082 – UPNP servers do not get removed after they become unavailable
    702885 – SendTo plugin does not work with music files containing apostrophe
    723020 – Rhythmbox incorrectly reads the year tag of m4a files
    725884 – support libsecret 0.18 (SecretUnstable to Secret API change)
    729373 – rhythmbox crashes upon “Jump to Playing Song”
    731025 – Song properties dialog “Basic” tab, “Comment” keyboard mnemonic is same as “Composer”
    731202 – Notification disappears when I pause my music
    731236 – New Radio Paradise URLs
    732764 – The latest rhythmbox needs atleast libglib 2.34
    732880 – Wording used for importing music in import screen is not clear
    733499 – rhythmbox crashes with SIGSEGV due to double free in rb_podcast_parse_channel_free
    733526 – rhythmbox / audioscrobbler fails if built from separate build dir
    733586 – Inequal sizing and alignment in rhythmbox UI.
    733636 – grilo: Do not free GrlRegistry
    734057 – rhythmbox-client –stop
    734123 – Rhythmbox 3.0.2 crashes if attempting to load pls stream before any other type
    734235 – AAC tags are improperly parsed for the “year” field
    735021 – daap source compilation failure with ubuntu 14.04
    735056 – Rating stars are not vertically aligned in GtkTreeView listing
    735083 – Rhythmbox crash when adding songs to a playlist
    735954 – Right-clicking on song causes Segmentation fault
    737053 – song-info ui files need update
    737368 – is in wrong location

Notable in this release are various Podcast fixes. Also, for iTunes users that have imported their .m4a media files, the Year is correctly displayed. There are a smattering of visual tweaks here and there. Overall, nothing really outstanding, but welcome none-the-less to continue and enhance the overall stability of the software.

If you take this release together with the 3.0.3 release in March, stock Ubuntu 14.04 users should definitely benefit for a year’s worth of bug-fixes and refinements.  Utopic users have the last April release v3.0.3.  We are well past feature freeze so I’m doubtful that v3.1 will hit the repositories until 15.04.

If you are looking to have the latest, I’ve packaged this together and is now available in my Rhythmbox PPA. This PPA contains the existing Ubuntu patchwork – hide on close, support for local and global menu etc. N.B. – I tend to update my PPA as and when I’m investigating what is new in upstream Rhythmbox.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:fossfreedom/rhythmbox
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install rhythmbox
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

I’ve also included the visualisation plugin as a dependency together with the Context plugin which is not available in stock Ubuntu.

Grilo is supported just enable the new plugin found in the Plugins menu.

sudo apt-get install grilo-plugins-0.2 grilo-plugins-0.2-mediascanner

The above will give you the new media sources in Rhythmbox – the key being Jamendo – Royalty free music is just a click away. You also get UPnP & DLNA support as well.

How to install VMWare Player in Ubuntu 14.04



Over the recent weeks I’ve been using VMWare Player to play, experiment and develop in various operating systems & various versions of Ubuntu.

I had been an avid VirtualBox user but I’ve become increasingly disenchanted with VirtualBox unstable nature. I’ve had numerous X-windows crashes & failures to suspend to resume. Every new version it seems brings new problems.

So what other virtualisation software could I use on my Ubuntu 14.04 host? My basic requirements were straightforward:

  • 3D Graphics acceleration – I dont want my guest to behave like a slug
  • ability to share folders with my host easily – I do my developing in Guests but I share data files stored on my Host.
  • easy to move my mouse cursor from Guest to Host without having to use key combinations to release the cursor.
  • must be fairly simple to setup & configure
  • it must be free – free as in beer.

3D Graphics acceleration is the killer feature here for me – without having to use a full bare metal solution, VMWare Player seemed to me to be the only viable solution (at least at the moment). So the following is what I learned – I’ve split this into two posts – the second describes my trials and tribulations trying to convert an existing virtualbox guest to VMWare format.

VMware Player (Non-commercial use only)_001

So how do I install VMWare player on Ubuntu 14.04…

Its not straightforward. There are no debian packages available like VirtualBox.

First Download the 32bit/64bit Linux bundle file from here

Next reach for your terminal and navigate to where you downloaded the bundle file and give it execute permissions

cd ~/Downloads
chmod +x VMWare*.bundle
sudo ./VMWare*.bundle

This will install VMWare Player. However, subsequent to running VMWare Player from the dash it will attempt to compile various kernel modules. This will fail due to kernel 3.13 used in Ubuntu 14.04.

You’ll need to patch the VMWare sources to overcome this. I followed this excellent guide – dont worry, whilst this guide mentions Trusty alpha and vmware player 6.0.1 the instructions equally applies to the latest version of Trusty (at the time of writing 14.04.1) and kernel

Once patched, search for VMWare Player in the dash again and this time all will be well and it will fire up.

From VMWare Player you can create new guests.  For older Ubuntu versions such as 12.04, VMWare Player recognises the operating system and provides you a quick and easy wizard to install.  It will install VMWare Tools automatically.

For newer operating systems you’ll need to install VMWare Tools manually – more on that in a later blog article.

Workspace 1_010

Next – how do I run multiple guests at the same time. Unlike Virtualbox, the VMWare Player GUI only allows you to run one guest at a time.

However if you start VMWare Player and then search and start VMWare Player again, a second instance will run – thus you can start a guest from each instance. Its a workaround – not nice but workable.

Better still though would be to run multiple guests directly from the Unity Launcher. This is possible via Drawers – I would warmly recommend you try this. It costs $2.99 from the Software Center. If you short of cash (!) then you can install for free via a PPA:

Workspace 1_009

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ian-berke/ppa-drawers
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install drawers

Now create a .desktop file in the folder ~/.local/share/applications

For example:

gedit ~/.local/share/applications/trusty.desktop

Copy and paste below – change the Exec command to point to the full path of your Guest. Dont forget to change the Name field for what the name of your Guest is.

Save, then open Nautilus and navigate to the .desktop file you just created. Open drawers and drag and drop the .desktop file onto the Draw

[Desktop Entry]
Comment=Run a virtual machine
Exec=vmplayer "/home/foss/vmware/trusty/trusty.vmx"

Repeat for your other Guests.


Well I’ve been using VMWare Player for a three weeks now. I’m fairly happy. Extremely happy that I have had not one single X-Window crash. Suspend and Resume is flawless.

Less happy – if you mouse cursor slips to outside the guest window, even though the guest window is still in focus, you lose the ability to type.

If you using a host application such as firefox and want to flip back to the guest you need to click the VMWare Player window title first to bring the guest back into focus.  This is annoying.

Generally grumpy – there isnt a way to snapshot and revert VMWare Player guests. Where I’m testing stuff that I need to rollback I’m still using VirtualBox’s snapshot facility.

VMWare is supposed to be the king of virtualisation. These niggles such as no debian package, having to patch software, inability to run multiple guests directly from one GUI and the lack of snapshots makes you NOT wanting to give it a try. I note the latest GTK3.14 version of Gnome Boxes has snapshot capabilities – so come on VMWare – if the opensource community is building in what should be deemed essential capabilities – why arent you?

An upcoming article will cover changing VirtualBox guests into VMWare Guests

Rhythmbox Radio-Browser new Trusty (rhythmbox v3) release


I’m pleased to announce a Rhythmbox 3 compatible version of the plugin Rhythmbox Radio-Browser

For the uninitiated, this is a lovely plugin allowing you to explore thousands of radio-stations available on the internet. It even allows you to record those stations (check the copyright laws in your country please!).

The first tab allows you to choose and record from your recently played radio-stations.

The second tab allows you to search from IceCast and radio-stations found by the thousands of radio-browser users.

The last tab allows you to browse through those thousands of stations.

So what has changed…

This has been revamped to be python3 compatible to work with Rhythmbox 3.
At the same time I’ve temporarily hidden the Radio-Time list of radio-stations because this provider now splits its lists into geographical regions which the plugin cannot (in its current incarnation) read.

Collaborator(s) wanted…

It is this latter issue which I need to reach out to you. As you know I maintain many plugins but in doing so, I cannot devote all the time I would love to spend. This plugin in particular needs new blood!

There are a couple of issues – the key issue being that the plugin doesnt handle the huge quantity of radio-stations very well – its slow to read and process the list. If you are using the latest intel i7 – well you wouldnt notice. Us lesser mortals will notice the 20 – 60 seconds to search and list stations

The other issue is the Radio-Time geographical lists as discussed above – the plugin needs to understand and download each geographical area and process these.

So – whilst I’m the maintainer … I cannot devote the time to resolve the above. Here is your opportunity. In releasing this version I’ve saved the plugin from code bit-rot… but it does need ongoing love and attention to make it easier and quicker to use.

No need to apply - fork and delve in. Please!! I would love to work with you.

How to install

The plugin can be installed in trusty either manually or via my PPA.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:fossfreedom/rhythmbox-plugins
sudo apt-get update<
sudo apt-get install rhythmbox-plugin-radio-browser

Via git:

sudo apt-get install git streamripper gir1.2-gconf-2.0
git clone -b rb3
cd radio-browser

Ubuntu application indicator – indicator-sysmonitor v0.5 release



Today, I’m pleased to announce a new version of indicator-sysmonitor.

edit – obvious typo in the headline version number :)

For the uninitiated…

Sysmonitor Indicator is an Ubuntu AppIndicator that can display the CPU, memory, swap, filesystem and network usage as values on the panel.

Furthermore, the AppIndicator comes with a very interesting feature: it can display the output of your own custom commands / bash scripts on the panel.

webupd8 reported about the older version back in May – the wonderful aka Andrew gave a great write-up and I’ve tested this new version with the examples he gave.

This one I particularly liked – a custom script to show if your internet connection is up or down – a happy or sad face:

Click the link above how to use etc.


This release has been updated to both GTK3 & Python3 – which in non-tech speak means that it uses the latest stable underpinnings rather than the old deprecated stuff that no-one maintains anymore.

I’ve taken the opportunity to further iron-out the more rough edges of the indicator since I took on the challenge when porting the original Ubuntu 12.10 version.


  • Test button now displays error messages when incorrect sensor syntax is used
    – Various english typos corrected
    – fix various crash reports when incorrect sensor syntax is used

This release is for 14.04 and 14.10 users.

As always I’m always interested in any developers contributing to the project – fork and push on my GitHub project page.

Similar bug-reports via the issues section on the project page – not via comments here please.


Installation on Ubuntu and derivatives – manual installation

sudo apt-get install python3-psutil git
git clone
cd indicator-sysmonitor
sudo make install
nohup indicator-sysmonitor &

To remove:

cd indicator-sysmonitor
sudo make clean

To install via PPA:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:fossfreedom/indicator-sysmonitor
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install indicator-sysmonitor

Search in the dash for “indicator-sysmonitor” to run


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