Tag Archives: windows

Windows 10 Technical Preview – Finally, virtual desktops.

I made a quick video highlighting my experience with Microsoft’s Virtual Desktop solution inside the new Windows 10 Technical Preview. So far, I’m extremely thrilled that Microsoft added virtual desktops, as it was something sorely lacking in Windows and yet was available on most other popular operating systems. Also included is a remapping of the old Windows Aero Flip 3d (Windows Key + Tab) to the new Windows 10 Task View – which is basically OS X’s Mission Control – a method for managing, switching to, and viewing virtual desktops. Here are some other useful shortcuts that are new or changed from previous versions of Windows (from here on out I’ll refer to Windows Key as WinKey):

Alt + Tab is basically unchanged and properly switches to the correct desktop when an app is selected that isn’t on the current desktop.

WinKey + Ctrl + D is the shortcut to create a new virtual desktop.

WinKey + Ctrl + F4 is the shortcut to close a virtual desktop. Closing a virtual desktop will move all open applications and windows on that desktop to the next available desktop – so don’t fret about losing all of your work by closing a desktop.

WinKey + Ctrl + Left (or Right) Arrow switches you to the left or right virtual desktop you have open. If you’re currently switched to a virtual desktop on one of the ends, it does not loop you back around if you try to continue in that direction.

The only downside to the new virtual desktop setup in Windows 10 is that you currently cannot move applications or windows from one virtual desktop to the next while in Task View. This is a major selling point of Mission Control for me, as it allows me to easily manage all of my open applications and regroup them under current or new virtual desktops as necessary to fit my current task. Other than my hopes that Microsoft implements better application and virtual desktop management into Task View before launch, I’m excited to upgrade all of my Windows 8.1 desktops and virtual machines to Windows 10 when it’s launched. The new Start menu (with integrated Start Screen) is really what Windows 8 should have shipped with; Microsoft’s new Windows 10 operating system is finally aware of its place when installed on a computer with a mouse.

Virtual Box

VirtualBox Headless (backgrounded) on Windows

So simple, yet often passed over, this feature is ridiculously easy to use and yet almost everyone I talk to about it has no clue that this feature exists.

To the poor saps like myself that must use Windows at their current job position – or to the masochistic folks who use Windows to develop on at home…two shortcuts and your backgrounded ‘headless’ Linux server needs will be fulfilled:

  1. Create your Linux VM as you would normally, configuring necessary system resources, etc, and installing the OS – make sure you configure a NAT, Bridged, or Host-only network adapter during creation.
  2. Install and configure OpenSSH server as prescribed by your OS/package manager – often this can be configured during install as a default package/configuration step.
  3. Note the IP address of the network adapter you plan on connecting to (ifconfig -a).
  4. Power Down the VM.
  5. Create a shortcut on your desktop (which can be dragged to your start menu or where ever you want this thing) with the “location of the item” or shortcut “target” is set to something like this:
    "[FULL_PATH_TO_VIRTUALBOX_DIRECTORY]\VBoxManage.exe" startvm [NAME_OF_VM] --type headless
    Fill out the path and VM name as necessary – on my system VirtualBox is installed to "C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox" and I named my VM ‘dev2’ during the ‘name and operating system’ phase of creating my virtual machine Step 1.
  6. Create a second shortcut in the same way, replacing the VirtualBox path and VM name as necessary, this time with the target:
    "[FULL_PATH_TO_VIRTUALBOX_DIRECTORY]\VBoxManage.exe" controlvm [NAME_OF_VM] savestate
  7. You can now start and ‘save state and power off’ your virtual machine via shortcuts on your desktop. Use your favorite terminal application to connect to the IP you noted in step 3, and you’re all set.

It looks like a lot of steps, but it’s quick and painless if you already have a vm setup, as you just need to know the IP address and the name you’ve given the VM in the VirtualBox Manager and you can quickly create the two shortcuts yourself.

If for some reason you can’t connect to your virtual machine after it has powered on – you’re probably connecting to a network adapter with an IP address dished out via DHCP. Just open the VirtualBox manager, power it on with the ‘Start’ button, and use the console window to login and grab your new IP – or save yourself the headache and connect via a host-only network with a static IP.