Setting up OSGeo-Live in a Virtual Machine

About OSGeo-Live

OSGeo-Live is a Linux distribution (“distro”) that comes preinstalled with a variety of geospatial analysis and development software, including QGIS, R, PostGIS, various Python geospatial libraries, and a selection of test data for learning purposes.

There are two ways to use OSGeo-Live in VirtualBox (or another virtualization software). You can install it in a virtual machine, the same way you would install any operating system. Or you can download a “pre-installed” virtual hard disk, and run that in a virtual machine. Either option is pretty straightforward. Running the pre-installed virtual hard disk is very slightly easier, so I will explain how to do that here. If you do this the VM will have a generic user named user with password user.

Creating an OSGeo-Live Virtual Machine

  1. Begin by downloading the VMDK (Virtual Machine Disk) from Download the most recent version (11.0 as of Sept. 2017). Download the file ending ...vm.7z, which is a zipped VMDK.
  2. Unzip the VMDK using 7-Zip. Note that a 7-Zip archive cannot be unzipped using Windows’ built-in compression, so if you do not already have it installed you will have to download and install 7-zip.
  3. Create a folder in your user folder named VirtualBox VMs and move the unzipped VMDK to that folder.
  4. Launch VirtualBox, which you should have installed previously.
  5. Hit Ctl+N, or select Machine→New. Choose these settings on the following screens:
  6. Name and operating system
    • Name: OSGeo-Live
      • Add the version number if you wish, e.g. “OSGeo-Live 11.0”
    • Type: Linux
    • Version: Ubuntu (64-bit)
      • If you only see 32-bit options, this may be because you did not yet enable VT-x or VT-d in your BIOS.
  7. Memory size: 4096 MB. This assumes you have 16 GB available, which is the case for the HP EliteBook laptops issued by the PSM. If you are using a laptop with less memory, you may reduce the amount that you assign to the guest OS. OSGeo-Live specifies a minimum of 1 GB
  8. Hard disk: Select “Use an existing hard disk file” and navigate to the unzipped VMDK.
  9. Hit Create.
  10. Select the newly created VM in the left-hand pane and choose Settings.
  11. In the left-hand menu, choose System.
  12. On the Motherboard tab, make sure that Enable I/O APIC is checked.
  13. On the Processor tab, make sure that Enable PAE/NX is not checked.
  14. Hit OK.

You can now run OSGeo-Live by selecting it in the VirtualBox Manager window (a list of VMs appears on the left) and hitting the green Run arrow. Launch OSGeo-Live and read the Welcome message.

I will demo OSGeo-Live in class. However, one thing to keep in mind is that you are essentially running a computer inside a computer. Do not “exit” the VM by closing the window. You will be prompted to “power off” the machine, which is essentially the same as pulling the plug on a computer. Instead, you want to shut down the VM as if it were a computer. Go to the Main Menu in the lower left corner of the VM, select Logout, then Shutdown.

Things That Will Make Your Life Easier

The OSGeo-Live virtual display (i.e., the window size) may be very small, and will not be able to increase until you install “Guest Additions”. In the instructions below, you must distinguish between the VirtualBox menu, which means the menu for the VirtualBox window that serves as a container for OSGeo-Live, and the OSGeo-Live menu, which is the round icon in the lower left corner of the desktop, similar in position and function to the Windows Start Menu.

  1. Start the OSGeo-Live VM.
  2. From the VirtualBox Devices menu, select “Insert Guest Additions CD Image”.
  3. Click OK when prompted to open the removable media in File Manager.
  4. In File Manager, choose Tools→Open Current Folder in Terminal.
  5. In the terminal type:
    sudo ./

    Hit Enter.

  6. Enter the password user. Note that the terminal will not show dots or markers indicating the number of letters you have typed. Just type the password and hit Enter.
  7. Type yes when prompted.
  8. After the installation is complete, reboot OSGeo-Live.
  9. Now when you resize the VirtualBox window, the virtual display should resize as well.

You may want to have access to your host drive in the guest OS. Follow these instructions to give OSGeo-Live access to your computer’s hard drive “outside” of the virtual hard disk:

How to Access Folders on Your Host Machine from an Ubuntu Virtual Machine in VirtualBox