Friday, January 15, 2010

New Virtual Box version fixes Gnome display issues

Happy Friday!

As a frequent user of virtual machines, I find myself quite impressed with their usefulness. Virtual machines allow you to emulate entire other operating systems within a host operating, called a virtual machine. You can even carry virtual machines with you from computer to computer and always have a custom system set up for your needs. Three common Virtual Machine platforms include Virtual Box, VMWare and Windows Virtual PC.

Due to it's freedom and flexibility, I tend to choose Virtual Box over option options. It has an extensive suite of features including seamless mode, mouse/keyboard integration, various device support and many more. It's also available for free under the personal use and evaluation license, and also has an open source edition.

One minor problem I've been having with Virtual Box involves the GNOME desktop environment used in many Linux distributions including Ubuntu.

The problem being that when one saves the VM execution state, and then resumes that state, the GNOME desktop graphic set (that is, its look and feel) appears to mysteriously change. Here's how it should look (click on the image to enlarge):

and after returning from a saved state:

As you can see, a number of icons have changed including the mail icon, terminal icon, network, sound, recycle bin. I would have to shut down GNOME and restart it (log back in) in order to restore their icons to the normal state.

I spent some time trying to figure out what was causing the odd issue, but to no avail. Nevertheless, I'm happy to report that upgrading to Virtual Box, 3.1.2, appears to fix this issue. Upon resuming from a saved state, the icons are no longer changed, or if they are, will immediately revert to the correct form! Fantastic!

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