VirtualBox Issues

While I’m waiting to get my disk repaired, I’m trying to get Windows running again as a guest in the machine using VirtualBox. It was working fine until the disk disaster. I have a Windows installation on an SSD, in SATA port 2. But when I try to start the machine, it says no bootable source found. I’d like to tell it /dev/sdc, but there is no way to do so. The manual only talks about pointing to an img file on the host’s hard drive, but not about how to use a physical device (though one would think telling it port 2 would be adequate). This seems like a different procedure than it used to be, when I would have a configuration file telling it where the boot drive was. Has that changed?

[Thursday-afternoon update]

I’m still hoping that my drive will be restored, and that when it does, my virtual Windows installation will work as well, but I’m trying to figure out how to get Windows going in the meantime, because I need it to trade (I’m currently using Patricia’s computer, but she needs it, too). So I thought I’d just install a new machine. Problem is, I don’t have my product key, because it was also in a document on the lost drive. Even though I’ve restored from my notebook from October, and it should be there, I can’t find it. All of the advice I see on line to recover a key requires having the drive that Windows is installed on, so I’m out of luck for that. Do I have any alternative to purchasing another license?


15 thoughts on “VirtualBox Issues”

  1. This sounds like a pretty easy one to fix. You need to open up the settings for the virtual machine in question. For some reason, the installation has got confused as to where to find the virtual disk (in my case a .vdi file, but YMMV). You should go to the “Storage” part of the settings menu and look at the SATA controller settings. These aren’t “real” SATA ports, they are fake ones that virtualbox fools Win10 into thinking it has. In my case, I have 2 SATA ports, 0 and 1. For port 0, get it to point to your vdi file. You might want to check the SSD box (mine is on a hard drive). My port 1 is used for “inserting” pseudo CDs, like the guest additions iso file. You might also want to check the boot order in the System part of the menu, to make sure your “hard drive” (actually the vdi file) is listed. Once that’s done, and assuming the vdi file is OK, it should see the file and boot.

    1. How does the .vdi file know where the SSD is? I’ve redone it as .vdi instead of .vmdk and port one is pointing to it, but when I try to start it, it brings up an “optical disk selector.” I’ve checked “SSD,” but when I start the machine, and go to select a disk, and point it to /dev/sdc, it won’t select it, but instead opens it up to boot, efi, sources, and support, while continuing to ask for a “virtual optical disk file.” When I select “boot,” it just opens another menu.

  2. When you say you have a Win10 installation, is it a real installation (accessible from grub), or is it a virtualbox Win10 installation? I did not think it possible to boot a “real” OS as that would screw up all of the virtual device drivers provided by virtualbox.

    So I’m assuming that the Win10 virtual machine is installed in a vdi (or equivalent) file. The machine “thinks” the file is in fact a partition that it controls, but it’s just a file in your Fedora machine. Where does the vdi file reside? If it was on the drive that got formatted, then unless the data recovery folks can get it back, you might have to kiss it goodbye. If however it is on your SSD and if you have mounted the SSD in Fedora, you just need to “add” a drive to your list of SATA ports in virtualbox (in my case pseudo port 0). Then tell virtualbox where the file is (there’s a browse box there for that purpose).

    1. I don’t think I ever had a .vdi file. It was .vmdk, and it was on the drive that got wiped. It pointed to /dev/sdc, which is the SSD where the Windows installation lives. As far as I know, it is a bootable Windows 10 installation (including data files), but VB doesn’t recognize it as such. So you’re saying to try mounting the drive on the host, and then see if VB can see it?

      1. That’s super weird. The .vmdk file is equivalent to a vdi file. That IS your Win installation. The OS is within that file. So if you do not have that, you don’t have a Win installation, at least in a virtualbox sense. I’ve never heard of anyone “pointing” to a hardware bootable partition and having it run in virtualbox and I’d bet it’s not possible. How did you “install” win10 in virtualbox? Normally you would use virtualbox to create a vdi file, and “boot” the virtual machine using an iso file (with Win10). The Win iso would then create pseudo partitions within the vdi file, format them and install the OS. You’d then have to register the Win10 machine.

        My guess is that until you get your vmdk file back, you’re SOL. The vmdk or vdi files don’t care where they are (SSD or hard disk). Virtualbox might like to know in that it might handle I/O a little differently (don’t know about that).

        1. Yeah, given that most of that 60G SSD appears to be free, I guess I lost the Windows installation (including data, though fortunately there wasn’t much) with everything else.

    1. That’s very cool. Does Virtualbox replace any device drivers within the physical drive? Does it allow guest additions? By setting up a physical drive as virtual, is it still bootable on its own?

  3. I often wonder if all this stuff is even a slight improvement over MS-DOS and SAA programs. I guess it provides many millions of jobs for marginally competent IT immigrants, so that’s something… (and yes, I do remember the Great Age of the Mainframe Nazis.)

    1. SAA programs?
      Same As Above? .i.e. written in MS-BASIC for MS-DOS I presume?
      Standard Application Architecture?
      Some Anonymous Acronym? 🙂

  4. (and yes, I do remember the Great Age of the Mainframe Nazis.)

    …and yes I remember the duplicate key as well. And holding onto it for just ONE character too many!!! >-|

  5. Rand,

    For temporary use, you can install Win 10 without a key. The OS will nag you in a few different ways, but it will work. if you can recover your old key, you can enter it (or s newly-purchased one) later.

  6. SAA: System Application Architecture. The Wikipedia article on same makes it seem more IBM-specific than it wound up. I developed several otherwise-SAA compliant apps using dBase II and even FoxBase. Then, best of all, after Glaxo bought hundreds of Mac laptops for salesforce automation, I was called upon to write the software. I showed them some Mac ideas, and they said, “Oh, no! We want this!” and showed me some SAA mainframe apps. So I wound up writing writing SAA compliant apps for the Mac, using FutureBasic to manage toolbox calls. I wound up hand building foundation reads from scratch. Which was fun and useful in my later career.

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