Virtual Box

Looking at the OCR GCSE Computing A452 Practical Investigation tasks for this year (2015)  I was not particularly excited by the LMC and App Inventor options.  I also had concerns over using the Raspberry Pi.  We don’t have any at my current school so there would have been the expense and they also take some time to set up every time they are required.  

At first I considered setting up a remote virtual machine that the students could log into via SSH.  We also considered purchasing a number of USB/External drives and allowing the students to use them to boot into a flavor of Linux.  However, after some consideration we decided upon using Virtual Box Virtual Machines running a guest Linux installation.  This is how we configured the virtual machines.


This was easy.  We just downloaded the appropriate installer from the downloads page and installed it.


  1. Run Virtual Machine
  2. Click New
  3. Give the virtual machine a sensible name e.g. myUbuntu and select Linux and Ubuntu 32bit (or 64bit) from the dropdowns.
  4. For all other options just pick the defaults as suggested by the set up wizard.


The first time you run the virtual machine the guest OS setup wizard will run.  This wizard only runs once so its best to be prepared.  I experimented with a few flavors of Linux before settling on the mini.iso for Lubuntu/Ubuntu.  You can download it from the Minimum Install page Downloading section.  So you might want to download 14.10 Utopic Unicorn 32 bit mini.iso.  Health warning:  Check the Ubuntu releases page so you know you are not going to run out of time prematurely and need to upgrade.

  1. Click on your VM and then start to begin the process.
  2. Click on the folder icon and browse to your mini.iso file.
  3. Click on start – the VM should boot and start with the Ubuntu install screen.
  4. Follow the onscreen instructions making sure you read any messages from Virtual Machine as it will tell you about important things like releasing the mouse later.
  5. Most of the instructions are self-explanatory and I just picked the default option.
  6. When it came to picking my installation type I went for Lubuntu Installation.
  7. Eventually the installation should complete and tell you to remove the install media – you cannot do this now so just click continue and read on.


When the VM reboots it will reboot back to the install screen because we didn’t remove the install media.

  1. In the VM Windown, click machine > .. > shutdown.
  2. In the main Virtual Box window highlight your VM and click settings.
  3. Go to storage and right click on the mini.iso entry and click remove attachment.
  4. Right click on the IDE and remove controller.
  5. Go to system and deselect everything but HardDisc in boot order.
  6. Go to System and disable acceleration.
  7. Reboot your VM.
  8. Be patient – it takes time!
  9. Open a terminal and install the guest additions packages using sudo apt-get install virtualbox-guest-dkms

At this point the new guest system should be ready for students to proceed with their A453 investigation.

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