A Step by Step Guide: Build A Virtual Meego Tablet on Oracle Virtualbox for Meego Apps Development and Testing

Background

Last year, I built a  virtual Meego Netbook  using Open Sourced Oracle Virtualbox, and feel it is convenient and responsive compared with the Meego Netbook running from Emulator under Qemu. So, when first Meego Tablet Alpha version OS was released earlier this year, I have tried several time on building a virtual Meego Tablet on Virtualbox as a testing and validation platform.  My effort was not successful. Startting from Meego Tablet img/iso, I have tried many different installation methods( USB Stick, DVD etc), it always ended on a black screen after reboot. I could not figure which cross-road that I made a wrong turn, and google search on the internet neither landed any sourceful clue since Meego Tablet Alpha was very new. A lot of people asking the same questions as I did , but none of solution was documented or published. 

However, the progress in this area is so critical as Meego Tablet OS's birth unavoidedablely will experience certain degree of growing pain until it reachs its maturity. For Developers, getting a foot in the new emerging market is not easy, and your response time need to be very short, and actions be in leading edge. For Academic community. Educating student with latest technology when econemy is still in recovery needs some innovative solution.  Without need of any investement of Tablet hardware, by using Virtual Meego tablet platform, you will be able to develop, test and validiate Apps for Meego device, and get Apps being accepted by Intel Appup. No doubt it will be a very good way to test how deep the Meego river is. Not sure if  Android or IOS offer similiar opportunity. After ........, finally Iwas able to find a fast and simple way to build a responsive virtual Meego Tablet, and create this step by step guide to share with you.

Hardware

My laptop is a Lenovo T61 that I have been using for many years, even thoug it  was joked by friends as an "outdated laptop" at Intel Beijing IDF. I succesfully built a Virtual Meego Tablet for Meego App test and validation. It took about 4G of your harddisk, and is responsive, and about 3-5 times faster than the same virtual Meego netbook in Emulator under Qemu provided by Meego SDK. It is good enough for develop and test Meego Apps you developed using QT or Qt Quick. So here is the HW requirment based on my experience:

  • 2G RAM

  • Windows 7 or Windows XP (Inel Meego SDK for  Appup is ready)

  • 4G Harddisk

  • Medium price laptop in the market for around three years (Like my Lenovo T61)

  • Installation process at the same level as that of an MS Office 2007 


Download and Install Oracle Virtualbox

First thing  you need to do is to go to Oracle website to download the Open Sourced Virtualbox: Download VirtualBox . (http://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads). You certainly need to read and accept the agreements of using Oracle Open Source Virtualbox. I am using VirtualBox 4.0.6 for Windows hosts. You will also find out that Oracle Virtualbox is also cross platforms, and you can find Windows, Apple IOS,  Linux and Solaris which is great as it also mean that you can run Virtual Meego Tablet on those Platform once you are done with this step by step. Follow the default instruction to install  Virtualbox in your system, and get ready for next step.

Create  Meego Image that is Compatibile with Oracle Virtual Box


If Oracle Virtualbox is not new to you, certainly you can try the typical way of installation ( download iso to USB/CD and boot etc). You can try and good luck. Just warm up ( if you are not easily sweating like me).  Here what I will introduce to you is a very simple and conscise way of doing it differently . We first go directly to the backyard repository of Meego.com to grab the latest Meego Tablet image :

http://repo.meego.com/MeeGo/builds/1.2.0.90/latest/images/meego-tablet-ia32-qemu/

After download the ~700M image, you can use Winzip or Winrar to unpack the package, you will get four files as below:






 Here are the tricks that several of my Intel expert peers have uncovered, and I got it work after several tries.  This time we will use the Virtualbox Management Tool (VBoxManage.exe) that is provided by Oracle to directly convert the Meego Tablet's raw  image to Oracle's vdi image VirtualBox Disk Image (VDI), and by-pass the installation based on iso/img.  When you install Oracle VirtualBox, the VBoxManage.exe is placed at default installatio folder  at C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox ).  I tried copyVBoxManage.exe out of this folder to do the conversion , but always got .dll missing error after several tries, and could not figure out the solution. So I get out of trouble shooting mood, and do the following:


  • Copy the entire folder that you unziped Meego image from your download above, and contains the .raw image Meego to C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox . For convenience, rename the folder name to meego.

  • Start your DOS Window by Run as Administrator and cd to C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox

  • As the version of Meego image has being updated frequently, the version # is alway changing. However, the format is same: meego-tablet-ia32-qemu-${version}-sda-raw。The version I used is 1.1.99.4.20110426.4  as below, You will need to use your version # of your downoad, and execute command below :


 C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox>VBoxManage convertfromraw meego\meego-tablet-ia32-qemu-1.1.99.4.20110426.4-sda.raw meego\meego-tablet-ia32-qemu-1.1.99.4.20110426.4-sda.vdi

 The terminal output will be:

                   Converting from raw image file="meego\meego-tablet-ia32-qemu-1.1.99.4.20110426.4-sda.raw" to file="meego\meego-tablet-ia32-qemu-1.1.99.4.20110426.4-sda.vdi"...

                  Creating dynamic image with size 3145728001 bytes (3001MB)...

 After conversion is complete,prompt will return to C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox>

Congratulation!  you have just made a Oracle Meego VDI image based on the latest Meego Tablet image just published at Meego Repository. After this step, you can copy and move the vdi image ( around 1.7G) to the location of your choice, and get ready for the next step(A sweet reminder,  same vdi can also be used in the virtulbox on Linux, IOS and Solaris etc ).

Create Virtual Meego Tablet in Oracle Virtual Box 

Start Virtualbox and click NEW to create the new Meego Tablet Release:



If you have use Oracle Virtubox before for Meego Netbook before, you know you will choose Fedora as the OS. This time is different, we will choose Operating System as Linux and Version as Linux 2.6 as above.





The RAM of my old laptop Lenovo T61 is only 2GB, so I picked 360M of memory for Virtual Meego Tablet, it works pretty well



For Virtual Hard Disk, make sure  Boot Hard Disk  is selected. Select Use Existing Hard Disk, and then open and select the Oracle .vdi image just created above by clicking and open the folder icon.



To fully utilize the CPU virtual technology, you will need to select Extended Features Enable PAE/NX.  And also under Acceleration menu, you will need to select both Enable VT-x/AMD-V and Enable Nested Paging. 

 

If VT on your laptopVT is not turned on yet, you can enable it in BIOS when you power on your laptop. Most laptops have VT support long time ago.  Then, have a quick check of your configuration at the Summary page



Now, let's start your Virtual Meego Tablet:



Running Virtual Meego Tablet

Oracle Virtualbox is loading about 3G of Software, so just  wait a little bit, and take your coffee:



Now, with a Virtual Meego Tablet operating system on your screen, Touch screen, which is the major way of input and interaction for mobile device and tablet,  seems not an option anymore. If you are like me, which is not gifted and talented as my daughter as school, certainly you will get lost and fall into some kind of limbo. In fact,  it is actually quite simple than your thought. From now on, you will need to use Mouse to simulate your finger tip. Just move your mouse to the Lock--like Icon on the middle right of the screen, and press the left mouse button,  you will see a blue moon-like shape coming out. Continue to press the left mouse button and pull to the left, Magiclly, you put out the Meego Menu:



If you are using the real Meego Tablet ( like an ExoPC, a Lenovo S10, or Webtab tablet etc), what you actually do is use your finger to press the white lock-like icon to pull out the menu ( if you have not setup the user password, or you will need to enter the password). In comparision with the real device and the Virtual Meego tablet, I can see Oracle Virtualbox did a great job, and create a Virtual environment that is much better than the Meego emulator running under Qemu.



Once you get to the menu, here is another shock that you will have if you hanvn't yet owned an iPad, iphone or Android device. If you get so used to the Windows, you will find out that every time you start a application in Virtual Meego Tablet ( Web browser, Photo Album, Movie, email etc), you will feel that you seems is driving into a highway that has not exit ramp, and there is no way out, and you unconscienously started looking for the familiar "X" on the top right corner of  Windows:



Sure you will find that it is no longer avaialble anymore as we are in totally different User Interface for Meego Tablet, and you need to say Hello to Meego and Bye-Bye to Windows. If you owns a iPhone,  iPad or any touch screen device, you will likely know that closing a application is done by pressing the Home Key. So, actually what you  is the key that emulate "HOME" key. For Virtual Meego Tablet, this key is Window Home key:



It is right, the "Window" key is the Homekey for Virtual Meego Tablet,  By pressing the "Window" key, you will be able to exit any app that you are currently running and enter the following interface:



On top left is the regular menu that display the frequently used items, and on the right are the complete menu of the system (see below). the top left displays the currently running Terminal  window.



Congratulation!! you have just built a fast and convenient Virtual Meego Tablet, and start your journey, without any Tablet Hardware, to test out Meego.  Once you have start adding apps, the menu will extend to the top side and a page menu will appear. By default, Virtual Meego Tablet interface will automaticlly catch the Keyboard and Mouse input, if you want to go back to your Windows host  interface, just uses the right Ctrl key:



Networking Virtual Meego Tablet with your Windows Host System 

As Intel Appup Store alredy launched Intel Appup Meego SDK  for Windows ( Appup Meego SDK for Linux is coming soon), so currently the best Meego Apps Development solution is using Meego SDK 1.2 for Windows to develop apps and use real Meego tablet or Virtual Meego tablet for testing, validiatation and packaging for Intel Appup Store. By networking Virtual Meego Tablet with your Windows Host system ( two OS on same system), you will be able to directly test any Meego Apps you are developing directly on the same laptop, just like testing on a real Meego tablet device on your local IP network.

To set up the Network connection, do below:

  • Start Oracle VirtualBox and then Setting -->Network




  • Change Network Adapter Attached to to: Host-only Adapter, and then change  Name:to VirtualBox Host-only Ethernet Adapter. Then start the Meego Tablet, Open a terminal Window, use  ifconfig command to find the IP address of your Meego Tablet Virtual OS:


 



  • Start WinSCP ( If you haven't yet install WinSCP, you can download from HERE)。 Make sure  you set the port # as 22,  and the password for default User Meego account is meego (latter we will also learn how to setup and push apps directly from QT to irtualbox):


 



Once the connection is established, you can upload the Development environment, update, Meego SDK and your apps into your Virtual Meego Tablet, and directly test and validate your apps.



Push and Test  Apps  on Virtual Meebo Tablet  platform

I will continusly blog on develop, test and validate Meego  app using Oracle Virtualbox as well as the packaging of Meego apps for Intel Appup. We are also releasing a Meego Curriculum Course that I am developing together with my Intel peers to Intel Academic Community. Feel free to provide any feedback or experience on this Virtual Meego Tablet step by Step Guide.
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