Installing Xubuntu 15.04 in VirtualBox

My personal machine is Windows, but as an aid to development and to keep my Linux skills practised I run a variety of Linux variants as virtual machines within VirtualBox. I have used VirtualBox for a while now with no problems, although on systems running inside it I tend to focus mostly on command line and simple (low resource requirement) tasks.

Because of this focus I have consistently come back to Xubuntu as my OS of choice. It has a simple but consequentially clean GUI. It has low requirements for RAM and graphics card capabilities, and it allows me to focus on my task at hand. It has been a while since I have done a major upgrade, and I thought I would give the latest version (15.04 at time of writing) a spin and install it on a new VirtualBox machine.

Once the image is downloaded, I set up a new VM within VirtualBox. If you have never used VirtualBox before, it is fairly simple to use, and I highly recommend it as a simple way of trying out a new OS. The manual is fairly easy to read, and LifeHacker have an old, but still relevant article about installing and setting up a virtual machine. Most settings I leave at defaults, however I do like to bump the Base Memory up quite a bit as I have a reasonable system and it doesn’t help to cripple the guest system too much. Once the VM is set up, and the disk image (iso) for Xubuntu is loaded into the VM’s disk drive, we are ready to start.

30 seconds later we are booted into the Live CD, and given the option of giving Xubuntu a test drive, or diving straight into the install, which I will do.Capture1


First the installer checks that the amount of free disk space is suitable, and that there is a network connection. There is also the option to download updates during the installation, which I will do as they will need to be downloaded at some point anyway. There is also the choice to use third party software, some of which may be proprietary. Next screen allows you to choose the partition setup that you would like to use. As I have a dedicated Virtual Disk for Xubuntu, I’ll go ahead and select the first option. Partitioning is beyond the scope for this post – but if you are installing Xubuntu alongside another OS on bare metal then I would recommend reading up on the options and taking care to backup your original system before resizing and modifying existing partitions.



A simple selection of location and keyboard type follows. After these comes a screen to choose the first (admin) user with password and computer name.Capture

Now it is a simple matter of waiting for the install to complete, if selected updates to software will be downloaded during the install. The whole process will vary in terms of length. On my system half an hour was plenty of time from start to finish. It will end with a prompt to reboot.

On my system here is where we hit a rough patch. The VM drops back to a black screen. All indications are that it has hung during reboot, so using VirtualBox I’ll send a manual reboot and see how that goes.Capture3


And success!! We are back and running. Logged in successfully.


Stay tuned for the next post where we do initial setup of a bunch of tools that I use regularly.



DiG Festival 2014 (Day 2)

The Design + interactive + Green-tech Festival was held at Newcastle City Hall on the 16th and 17th of October this year. Here is a run-down of the highlights for Day 2 from my perspective. As a mental health researcher my main focus was the Mental Health stream. Little disappointed that no coffee, snacks or lunch was provided, but at least I was prepared for this for Day 2.

UPDATE: Conference presentations have been posted online by HIMH here.

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DiG Festival 2014 (Day 1)

The Design + interactive + Green-tech Festival was held at Newcastle City Hall on the 16th and 17th of October this year. Here is a run-down of the highlights from my perspective. As a mental health researcher my main focus was the Mental Health stream. There were a great series of talkers – primarily from the mental health service sector – who were predominantly discussing the use of new technologies such as social media.

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Who Am I


Interested in computers from a young age, I studied Computer Science and (just for kicks) Mathematics at the University of Newcastle. During my studies I did some part time work with the Kip McGrath Education Centres head office assisting with development of some of their tutoring resources.

Once I finished my studies I found a job working with a research institute called NISAD (Neuroscience Institute of Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders) My role at this position was as a research assistant, but included a large range of duties from system administration, software development, data management, hardware support and more. I was also very quickly drawn into the world of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (participating in a study on the first day I started).

My hours were split between supporting 2 main groups of researchers, at the University of Newcastle’s main campus at Callaghan, and a second group that began at the James Fletcher Hospital near the beach in Newcastle, but eventually moved to the Mater Hospital, Waratah. Over time my role moved away from System Administration and became more involved with the design of research experiments (while still doing the development).

The institute I was part of also changed, becoming the Schizophrenia Research Institute, Australia. Then in mid 2012 as part of an agreement with the University of Newcastle, my position moved to being overseen by the University directly, and during this process my position changed from a research assistant to a research academic.

My current focus areas are on diffusion weighted imaging techniques (a variant on magnetic resonance imaging). Recently I have been investigating the use of open source workflow software, in particular nipype to facilitate the combination of data analysis procedures from different packages.