Virtualbox vmdk image to vdi

One of my VirtualBox virtual machines used the vmdk disk format (From VMWare). Somehow it seemed to be slower than another machine I had running in VDI format (default for VirtualBox >= 4.0).

I had to search the internet a while to find the right solution and it was not complete, so here is my description on how to migrate the virtual machine disk format from vmdk to vdi:

cd <folder where your disk image is>
vboxmanage clonehd somename.vmdk somename.vdi --format VDI

That takes a while. After finished you need to start virtualbox and go into the settings of your virtual machine. Under "Storage" you will still find the old HD file attached to SATA (or IDE) controller. Remove the old one and attach the new .vdi file.

Try starting the virtual machine to see if everything works as intended.

Then shutdown your virtual machine, go to File->Virtual Media Manager and remove the old vmdk file even there. Now you can delete the .vmdk.


The individual desktop

I can see an interesting movement on the market: Many Apple iPhone users seem to lurk towards a Mac when they think of buying a new computer. - And some actually do.

And in my neighbourhood I can count already 6 Macs in the first minute trying to count them.

I find it a good thing, that Macs are increasing. With more people using Macs, companies need to start considering that there is not only Windows and world is colorful.

There is just one thing that I need to make clear: Many Mac users think that they are a special individual with their extraordinary computer and this is not true IMHO.

I can see the following different strategies:
  • Microsoft: Keep compatibility to keep market share but try to offer new GUI stuff that feeds people's enthusiasm and keep some flexibility.
  • Apple: Focus on usability and don't make the user think or choose.
  • Linux: Be open and flexible. Everybody should be able to use it as desired.
I was thinking if there could be the optimal all-use-fitting user interface but I came to the conclusion that there are many different use cases, many different jobs and many people thinking in many different ways.

I think, the Apple way is not the worst, but for those who work a lot with the computer it might be worth to invest a little more time finding the best fitting environment. If you want to be really individual, Linux is the way to go - just search youtube - e.g. for "my Linux desktop" or "top linux distros" to get an idea what people do with Linux.

Related posts: Distribution choice, Popular Ubuntu desktop myths.


Failed user lock-down

Have been on a Citrix Windows 2008r2 server machine where the admins really tried to lock down everything.

The other side is: Some stuff is not working well and I do not wonder because I am pretty sure that a lot of features that have been disabled are required by several pieces of software.

And the funny thing is: You can't really lock out the user on Windows - just to show one simple way to open the command prompt if disabled:

  1. Start Microsoft Word
  2. Press ALT + F11
  3. Press CTRL+G
  4. Type: vba.shell "cmd.exe"
  5. Press Enter
  6. Voila here it is the commandline window.
In the particular case C: drive was disabled and command prompt -  now everything is at hand form the command prompt. You can either try:
vba.shell "explorer C:\Windows"
works either. :-)


Smart Backup on Linux

About two years ago after setting up a Linux server I was asked to create a backup of the last seven days. Reason for this was the idea that if something gets deleted or corrupted it might not be noticed immediately.

The problem was: The hard disk did not have enough free space to hold 7 times the data and at the moment there was no external hard disk available.

I searched the Internet and found a really smart solution - you can find details here on mikerubel.org (rsync snapshots). My final script looks like this:

 rm -rf /data/autobackup/backup.7  
 mv /data/autobackup/backup.6 /data/autobackup/backup.7  
 mv /data/autobackup/backup.5 /data/autobackup/backup.6  
 mv /data/autobackup/backup.4 /data/autobackup/backup.5  
 mv /data/autobackup/backup.3 /data/autobackup/backup.4  
 mv /data/autobackup/backup.2 /data/autobackup/backup.3  
 mv /data/autobackup/backup.1 /data/autobackup/backup.2  
 cp -alv /data/autobackup/backup.0 /data/autobackup/backup.1 > /data/autobackup/0to1.log  
 rsync -av --delete /data/live/ /data/autobackup/backup.0/ > /data/autobackup/last-rsync.log  

If you want to go more into detail - Michael Jakl has posted a variant here (rsync time machine).

Currently in my use case the live part takes 149GB and the whole backup of 7 days takes 161 GB (instead of more than a TB!)

I know, disk space is quite cheap, but the rising amount of data also requires a lot! - In my case:
  1. I already have several external drives (2 HDs where HD images of my work notebook are saved alternating).
  2. Two separate external drives where data only is saved with rsync (to one disk more often to other about once in two months).
  3. I have a 500GB external HD where data is outsourced that I do not need that much or simply consumes too much of my primary HD. That one was not saved in the early times. In the meantime I do sync it to a second one from time to time (people have a lot of external HDs these days but I am not sure if they backup those too...).
Guess what, if I would decide to keep snapshots of several days - way too much for a normal copy x7!