[vbox-dev] Wish for the future: XML

Jonas Mellin jonas.mellin at his.se
Tue Oct 13 11:36:40 GMT 2009

Klaus Espenlaub wrote:
> Jonas Mellin wrote:
>> I would appreciate output in XML format from VBoxManage command since I
>> am on a university and want to automate installation for my students to
>> reduce their problems. It is, of course, perfectly possible to parse the
>> output, BUT it would be simpled in XML. For a starter, the information
>> commands could be added with an XML option. In the second step, it would
>> be useful to enable packaging of error messages in XML as well.
> Sorry, but I don't get the novelty of idea apparently - what you
> describe as "automate installation" sounds like a reinvention of the
> OVF export/import feature (which is an XML based file format btw.).
> Which is already supported by VBoxManage.
I do not want the disk to be part of the appliance, but added as a
centralized immutable disk from which the student run difference disks.
Further, the configuration is dependent on the hardware, which may be
varying. For example, the number of processor available in each target
may vary. Obviously, it is possible to have one export for each possible
configuration, but it is difficult to foresee all possibilities. So, the
import/export was considered as an option, but it did not work out for
me. If I misunderstood the possibilities of the export/import, then
please tell me how to do this.
> And for the other bits - VBoxManage is meant for simple configuration
> and management tasks. As an intermediate level between VBoxManage and
> fully custom code which uses the VirtualBox API you can use
> vboxshell.py. If you want to achieve something more complex and/or
> want to have better control over what's going on, there's the
> VirtualBox SDK. You can call the (XP)COM API from several languages
> (C/C++/python), and the webservice (WSDL) API from pretty much any
> noteworthy language.
The problem is that I do not know if python is available on the target
and if they want to install it. The target is mostly Windows XP with
Ubuntu with RTPREEMPT patched kernel (2.26.....) Of course, I could add
the necessity to install python, but I want a simple process: "Run this
program and wait". From my point of view, it is simpler to automate
using VBoxManage via available script languages than to add automatic
installation of python in case it is missing. If VBoxManage could output
information in XML format, it would be simpler to process.

I looked into the SDK and opted for scripting by using vboxmanage rather
than developing, for example, a C++ program using the SDK. It was too
much an effort compared to what I wanted.
> Don't get me wrong, I'm not against improvements, I'm just having a
> bit of difficulty to get the full understanding of your ideas out of
> the 6 lines outline. Note that VirtualBox is open source, so you could
> prototype/contribute your idea.
I tried to explain it in more detail above. Essentially, if vboxmanage
could output information in XML format, it would be easier to write
scripts in other script languages other than python without providing a
specific interface to each possible language.

I might prototype it, since it is not a major change.

> Klaus

Carpe Diem!
Jonas Mellin, Assistant Professor in Computer Science
School of Humanities and Informatics, Building E-2
University of Skövde, P.O. Box 408, SE-541 28 Skövde, Sweden
Phone: +46 500 448321, Fax: +46 500 448399
PGP Public Key: http://www.his.se/PageFiles/19377/Jonas_Mellin.asc
Email: jonas.mellin at his.se, URL: http://www.his.se/melj, 

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