My FREESCO page | Running FREESCO virtual

Running FREESCO virtual

This tutorial describes how to run FREESCO as a virtual machine inside VMware Player. This is very useful when testing new versions of FREESCO. I use Linux on my desktop so this tutorial takes a Linux approach. If you use some other OS, you probably have to do things a litte different. On a Windows machine you need a tool for mounting disk images. Slowpoke reports (thanks for the info!):

"The utility that I have used when working on a windoze machine is 'Virtual Floppy Drive' by Ken Kato, which can be found at http://chitchat.at.infoseek.co.jp/vmware/vfd.html"

This is a three step process, first you prepare the FREESCO floppy, then you create the VMware image and finally you add the FREESCO image to the VMware image.


Preparing the floppy image

Start with creating a new directory on your disk where you can work with your virtual machine:

$ mkdir ~/virtual_freesco

From now on, I refer to this the 'base directory'. Now go to the FREESCO download page and download FREESCO, the modules and the addons. Save these archives inside your base directory.

Enter the base directory and unzip the files. After doing this you will have a directory named FREESCO-XXX (where XXX is the version number) inside your base directory. All FREESCO files are stored inside that directory.

Copy the FREESCO floppy image from the FREESCO directory to your base directory:

$ cp FREESCO-038/freesco.038 ./my_freesco.img

Now create a new directory inside the base directory. This directory will act as a mount point when mouting the floppy image:

$ mkdir ./floppy

Now we can mount the floppy image to the directory using the loopback trick (probably this must be done as root):

$ mount -t auto -o loop ./my_freesco.img ./floppy

Now the floppy image is mounted on ./floppy and you can access the mounted image as a part of your file system. You are ready to copy files to the image!

There is only one file that is necessary to copy to the image, and that is the NIC driver. In order to run in VMware you need the lance driver. In addition to that, you might want to copy a time zone file to simplify the time management. Also a ramdisk might be usefull, but is not necessary.

If you intend to use the virtual machine to create an installation floppy for a physical box, you might need to add some extra NIC drivers, depending on the NICs in your physical machine. You probably need pci-scan as well. This is what I do to create a virtual machine with support for the VMware lance NIC, my physical NICs, my time zone and a 64MB ramdisk:

$ cp ./FREESCO-038/modules-2.0.39/net/lance.gz ./floppy/router/drv/
$ cp ./FREESCO-038/modules-2.0.39/net/new-net/pci-scan.gz ./floppy/router/drv/
$ cp ./FREESCO-038/modules-2.0.39/net/new-net/3c59x.gz ./floppy/router/drv/
$ cp ./FREESCO-038/modules-2.0.39/net/new-net/eepro100.gz ./floppy/router/drv/
$ cp ./FREESCO-038/timezone/Europe/Stockholm ./floppy/router/tmz/
$ cp ./FREESCO-038/ramdisks/ramd64 ./floppy/router

Now unmount the floppy image:

$ umount ./floppy

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Creating the VMware image

Before you can run FREESCO inside VMware, you need to create a VMware image, which is the file you 'play' in VMware player. Such images can be created with VMware Workstation, which is a commercial tool that costs a lot of money. Fortunately such images can also be created using free on-line services. I use EasyVMX but I know there are others out there, just Google for 'vmx creator' or something like that.

EasyVMX provides different ways of creating the necessary files. I use the 'super simple' approach. You create the files by filling out a form:

Now press the 'Create virtual machine' button and you will be provided with a link to a zip-file with your new virtual machine. Download the file to your computer, then unzip it into the base directory that you created earlier. The base directory should now contain three sub-directories

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Adding the FREESCO floppy image to the VMware image

The vmx-file that was generated for you tells VMware how to run the virtual machine. The file is a text-file and can be edited to better suit your needs. What we need to do is to add the FREESCO floppy image to the virtual machine. Open the vmx-file in a text editor and look up the section for the physical floppy drive. It should look something like this:

# Settings for physical floppy drive
floppy0.present = "FALSE"

You should now edit this section so it look something like this:

floppy0.present = "TRUE"
floppy0.startConnected = "TRUE"
floppy0.fileType = "file"
floppy0.fileName = "../my_freesco.img"

It is crucial that the floppy0.fileName is correct. This is the search path from the virtual machine to the floppy disk image. In this example, the image is located in a directory above the virtual machine. If you place the image in any other place (or use a differet name), you must adjust this setting. Now save your changes to the file.

By now your virtual machine should be ready. Use your package manager (or go to VMware) to download and install the free VMware player. Once installed, load the vmx-file into your player and enjoy your virtual FREESO!

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Last modified: Fri Aug 8 07:28:41 CEST 2008

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