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Thread: Privacy via Virtual Computers

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    Default Privacy via Virtual Computers

    It is highly recommended that you have your own computer when visiting sites such as ADISC, but for whatever reason you may not be in a position to own your own computer, or at least, not any time soon. So we can cheat and use your available PC at home to install a virtual machine to emulate a computer - a computer that you will control. The advantage of this is that it is fully customizable, has the potential to use full encryption, and no one but you with the password will see your tracks. The disadvantages are that it is not really portable, takes up a lot of hard drive space, and needs some time to install.

    Alternatively, installing a virtual computer on a computer you own and to which you have exclusive access can provide an extra layer of security for your private activities.

    Technical Requirements
    • A PC running Windows or Linux
    • At least 512MB RAM
    • Roughly 10GB free space (extra if you want to store things)
    • An internet connection to download the necessary software

    Step 1 - Download Files

    You will need two (free) files in order to perform the instructions provided below:

    VMware Server

    Click "Download Now". You have to accept the EULA by scrolling down and clicking "Yes". You want the "VMware Server for Windows Operating Systems." Click on "Binary (.exe)" to start the download. Save the file in an appropriate place.

    While you wait for the download to finish go back to the original link a sign up for serial keys. Click "Register for your free serial number(s)". You can enter jibberish in the form if you like, as the keys will not actually be emailed to you. You can ask for up to 100 keys, but only 1 is needed. Once you click submit, the next page will display your key(s). It is recommended that you copy and paste these in a word document or a text file to safely store them.


    Select the most recent desktop version, and download. You will need an OS to install later in the setup, and it need not be Ubuntu (see Step 2 below), but being the most popular distribution of Linux, it is recommended.

    Other software options exist for setting up a virtual machine. Though this article will not go into detail on setting up the following options, you might also consider one of the following alternative software packages:

    Virtual Box

    This is free from Sun.

    VirtualBox is a family of powerful x86 virtualization products for enterprise as well as home use. Not only is VirtualBox an extremely feature rich, high performance product for enterprise customers, it is also the only professional solution that is freely available as open source software under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL). See "About VirtualBox" for an introduction.

    VMWare Browser Appliance

    The simplest way to get your VM up and running is to use the VMWare browser appliance. It is a pre-made minimal Ubuntu-based virtual machine that contains all the facilities to browse the internet securely.

    The file is only 258 MB. The Ubuntu version is a bit dated, but it should still work.
    If you are happy with this configuration, you should use it. If not it is also possible to create your own VM and install a Linux distribution from scratch.

    Step 2 - Choose an OS

    Above, the instructions recommended that you download Ubuntu. You can use this, or you if you would like, you can substitute another OS.

    Linux is good, and most VMs run some form of Linux, but older versions of Windows will work as well. Remember, your VM will only have a fraction of the power of your physical machine, which is a potential problem given the resources required by modern versions of Windows.

    Some specific notes on certain operating systems:
    -If you do give a lot of resources to your VM, and plan on installing Windows XP or later versions, note that you may not be able to use your current disc due to OEM locks or VLK limits.
    -PCLinuxOS can not use NAT networking on VM. It also corrupts the xorg.conf file if the resolution is changed with the VM at the minimum requirements. If you are uncomfortable with editing this file, or command line editing, allocate more RAM or leave the resolution alone.

    Step 3 - Install VMware

    Double click on the "Binary.exe" file. You can mindlessly click through the installer, although it is advised to untick "Disable Autorun", as it has given many people problems where windows would not clear the chache of the last disc when a different one is inserted, which gives the illusion that the old disc is still in the drive. You may be asked to restart your PC at the end, as you must restart for the VMware services to work correctly.

    Step 4 - Create a VM

    If you have just installed VMWare, restart your PC.

    Start the VMWare Server Console program. Then go to File > New > Virtual Machine. Select "Typical" then select the OS you will use. If your Linux distribution is not listed and you are using Linux, select "Other Linux". Select your VM name and location.

    Internet and Networking

    If you want your VM to have internet, you will need to set up your network in this section. You have a few options:

    -Bridged Networking: This one is generally the best, if it will work for you. It treats the VM as a separate machine on the network. However, it can have problems with some wireless network adapters.
    -NAT (Network Address Translation): This one sends all connections through the host machine. It is the most likely to work, but it makes connecting through the network to the host a little more difficult.
    -Host-Only Networking: If you cannot get any of the other forms of networks to work, this one creates a private network with the host. You can then use the hosts features (e.g. Internet Connection Sharing) to connect that network to the internet. If you are not confident in your ability to manage your computer’s networking features, you’re not likely to be able to get this one to work.
    -Do not use a network connection: Does what it says on the tin; this option will not allow you to connect to the internet.

    Hard Drive

    You will need to select the amount of hard drive space to allocate. If you are unsure as to how much you will need, look up your OS’s requirements. As a rough rule of thumb, 10GB for modern Linux distributions, 20GB for Windows 2000+ and 5GB for Win 95,98,ME will give you enough space to run and install a few programs. You should select the "Allocate all disk space now" option. This will take awhile and the progress bar may appear to hang on completion.

    Step 5 - Configure your VM

    On your left hand side, you should see an inventory option. Click on your new VM. Click "Edit VM Settings". Click on a setting to see the options on the right-hand side. The first option you will want to change is the CD-ROM drive; it may be a good idea to create a virtual drive on the host OS for the VM, if you know how. Otherwise, you can set it to auto-detect to use your physical drives.

    The second option is the memory. Take into account your Guest OS’s recommended requirements and the amount of memory you are leaving your host OS while setting this. If you have 4GB or higher on the host, 512MB is a good amount to set for your VM.

    Step 6 - Install your guest OS

    If you downloaded a version of Linux, you will usually have an ISO. If you followed the earlier advice and used a virtual drive, mount that ISO. Otherwise burn it to disc and put it in your computer.

    Start your VM now by choosing the "Start This Virtual Machine" option. This will take a while especially the first time. It is not unusual for this to use 100% of RAM and processor while booting even on higher end systems. However, after the VM starts (you will see the VM's BIOS screen), it will not take more than its allocated RAM.

    From this point, follow the usual procedure for installing your OS of choice, (instructions for which should be available in your manual or vendor's website).

    Step 7 (optional) - Install VMWare Tools

    Select VM > Install VMWare tools. You will get a disc drive added with installation files on it (Setup.exe on Windows, or a RPM on Linux).

    When VMWare tools is running on the guest OS, it is possible to switch between guest and host by moving the mouse of the edge of the guest screen. It also enables copy/paste between host and guest. It must be run as root (linux) or administrator (Windows).

    This article was edited from the ADISC Wiki article "Create a Virtual Computer". Many members of the ADISC community contributed to this text.
    Last edited by Geno; 05-Mar-2014 at 02:44.

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