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Installing Virtual DICE

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Virtual DICE is distributed in the form of a virtual machine image file. All you really have to do is to copy the image to your computer then open it with VirtualBox. First though, check that the computer has what is needed:

Requirements

  • The host computer will need about 60GB of free disk space (to start with, and more as you fill its disk with files) and at least 3GB of free memory.
  • The computer should be secure and private to you, since you may well want to enter your DICE account details in order to get access to AFS, and your account details should only be entered on a machine which you know has not been interfered with.
  • You will need VirtualBox. VirtualBox is available for Linux, Mac, Windows and Solaris hosts and any of these should be capable of running Virtual DICE, given sufficient hardware resources.
  • If your computer is a PC, look in the BIOS settings for Virtualization Support and enable Virtualization Technology and VT For Direct I/O.
  • It will be an advantage to install one of our VPN services on your computer.

Little or large?

Before doing anything else, decide whether you want the little or the large version of Virtual DICE. The Software on Virtual DICE page explains the difference. This page tells you how to get the little version. To get the large version instead, just download large.ova and large.md5sum instead of little.ova and little.md5sum.

Downloading

The image file is large, so the easiest way to copy it to your computer may be to connect the computer to a wired connection on the Informatics network then copy an image file directly to your computer.
Another option is to copy the image file to a USB stick or pen drive, then copy it from the drive to your computer.
Before downloading an image file over broadband, check your provider's fair use policies.
Do not use iFile for this as it cannot currently manage files this large.
However you copy the image file, remember that it is very large, it will take a while to copy, and it will probably be too big for your DICE home directory.

Download using the Web:

Download the image from this link. (If the weblogin page asks you to authenticate, please use your Informatics or "DICE" account. Other accounts, for example iFriend, will not be accepted. See the Cosign page for more on weblogin.) Copy little.ova and little.md5sum to your computer.

Download using rsync:

Download these files:

vdice.inf.ed.ac.uk::virtualdice/little.ova
vdice.inf.ed.ac.uk::virtualdice/little.md5sum

These addresses are only accessible from the Informatics network. (Your computer can be on the Informatics network from anywhere on the internet if you use our OpenVPN service.)

Download using SSH:

If your computer has ssh you could copy the image by typing these commands in a terminal window:

sftp ssh.inf.ed.ac.uk:/afs/inf.ed.ac.uk/group/mp-unit/virtual_dice/images/little.ova little.ova
sftp ssh.inf.ed.ac.uk:/afs/inf.ed.ac.uk/group/mp-unit/virtual_dice/images/little.md5sum little.md5sum

Download using AFS:

If you have installed AFS on your computer, copy the Virtual DICE image file from:

/afs/inf.ed.ac.uk/group/mp-unit/virtual_dice/images

Copy little.ova and little.md5sum to your computer. The AFS and filesystems pages explain how to install an AFS client on your computer.

Checking the download

After downloading the files, use the MD5 checksum to make sure that the file is not corrupt.
If you are using Linux, check the checksum by typing this command in a terminal window:

/usr/bin/md5sum --check little.md5sum

A successful check should output something like

little.ova: OK

If you are using Windows 10, open a Command Prompt window and generate a new checksum, then compare it to the one in the little.md5sum file. Generate the checksum like this:

CertUtil -hashfile little.ova MD5

and see the existing checksum like this:

type little.md5sum

On an older version of Windows, Hashcalc can check md5sums, or try the Microsoft File Checksum Integrity Verifier.

On a Mac, open a Terminal and generate a new checksum, then compare it to the one in the little.md5sum file. Generate the checksum like this:

md5 little.ova

and see the existing checksum like this:

cat little.md5sum

Alternatively, a checksum tool can be installed through popular packaging mechanisms Homebrew or MacPorts with a command such as

$ brew install md5sha1sum

or

$ sudo port install md5sha1sum

Installing and booting

Once the .ova file has been checked, just click it to open it in the normal way, or start VirtualBox and import the file using the Import Appliance menu option. It will take a few minutes to import, but probably not as long as VirtualBox tells you. Once imported, a new virtual machine will appear in VirtualBox. Before starting this virtual machine please make sure that the host computer is connected to the network. This will enable the virtual machine to set its clock to the correct date and time as it starts up. (If you ever need to set the clock after booting, see clocks and time in Virtual DICE.)

Virtual DICE uses 2GB of memory by default. This ensures that it works on computers which only have 4GB of memory. If your computer has more than 4GB of memory, you should give Virtual DICE more memory to make it faster. You can change the amount of memory Virtual DICE uses like this:

  1. Start VirtualBox and highlight the Virtual DICE VM, but don't start it.
  2. Click Settings then System.
  3. Change the Base Memory value from 2048MB to (for instance) 4096MB, then click OK.

The .ova image file only needs to be imported once. To boot Virtual DICE on subsequent occasions, start its virtual machine from within VirtualBox.

Last reviewed: 
13/09/2019

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