[vbox-dev] Inclusion of the Guest Additions in Ubuntu 11.10 by default

Felix Geyer debfx at ubuntu.com
Tue Aug 30 13:38:04 PDT 2011


On 30.08.2011 17:29, Michael Thayer wrote:
> Hello Felix,
> We started discussing this on IRC, but I will include it for background
> as it might be of interest to other people.  I noticed when installing
> Alpha 3 of Ubuntu 11.10 in order to test the Guest Additions there that
> the operating system detected that it was running in VirtualBox and
> offered to install Additions itself via the Additions Drivers" feature.
> On the whole I think this is a good thing, as it makes for a good user
> experience both from the point of view of Ubuntu and of VirtualBox, but
> I am slightly worried that unless this feature is actively maintained
> during the active lifetime of Ubuntu versions (and possibly beyond) that
> it may lead to more users using mismatching versions of VirtualBox and
> the Guest Additions, which clearly won't provide the best experience,
> and I was hoping that we could think this through to find a solution
> that both of us are happy with.  I don't know how deeply you are
> involved with the Ubuntu side of this - do you know anyone else we
> should be talking to?

I've added the modalias to the virtualbox package header which makes
the "Additiontal Drivers" application suggest the package.
So I guess I'm the right person to talk to. :-)
I'm not sure who else from the Ubuntu project is interested in this
discussion. Maybe Martin Pitt who maintains the "Additiontal Drivers"
software (aka jockey [1]).

> One way of handling this would be for Ubuntu to automatically download
> and run a Guest Additions installer from Oracle (or mirror the installer
> themselves), checking for the right version before downloading.
> (VirtualBox versions as of 3.0.4 can be detected using "dmidecode -u |
> grep vboxVer", versions as of 1.5.0 if necessary by dd-ing the BIOS and
> running it through the "strings" command.)

I wouldn't want Ubuntu to automatically download and execute
third-party installers.

> What we would certainly
> appreciate would be for released versions of Ubuntu to be able to
> support new versions of VirtualBox as they are released - or to drop the
> Additions installation feature altogether when a release gets to a point
> when Ubuntu no longer wish to update it.

It might be possible to detect the host VirtualBox version and only
advertise the additions package if both are from the same major release.
Of course this wouldn't cover the case where the VirtualBox host is
upgraded later.

> On IRC you mentioned testing as something which worried you (the
> Additions Drivers window says that the Additions have been "tested by
> the Ubuntu developers" - does that mean you in this case?) as you wish
> to have tested every combination which you support but don't have the
> time to test every release of Ubuntu with every version of VirtualBox.
> On the whole I don't have a good answer here if you are not willing to
> pass the buck on to us.  Though we do do quite a bit of testing of the
> Guest Additions before releasing it is mainly limited to the newest
> version of a number of distributions, which of course covers quite a
> range of kernel and X.Org versions.  Though we expect any "reasonable"
> system as of Linux 2.4.21 (I think it was) and XFree86 4.3 to work with
> the Additions we tend to rely on users to report breakage with systems
> at the older end of the range.  However even Ubuntu 4.10 should be
> sufficiently new to have a relatively low risk of breakage.  (Having
> claimed that I will now have to install a copy if I can find one!)

I currently maintain a PPA [2] where I upload backports of the virtualbox
package to supported Ubuntu version (currently all except 8.04 aka hardy).
I don't test these packages much but they have proven to be pretty stable
in the past.

The official way to provide updated software for released Ubuntu
versions is through the backports repository.
The policy for that repository however requires that someone actually
tests the package on the old Ubuntu release.

Sadly at the moment the backports repository isn't integrated into the
GUI package managers. So you have to execute
"sudo apt-get install -t natty-backports virtualbox-guest-utils"
to get the latest version.


[1] https://launchpad.net/jockey
[2] https://launchpad.net/~debfx/+archive/virtualbox

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