Running a Linux Emulator

Vladimir V. Kisil


1  Introduction

You can use the CAS companion to these notes either:

The later method is compatible with a wide range of hardware running various operational system, e.g. LinuxGNU!Linux!emulator, Windows, Mac OS, etc. To this end you need to install a so called virtual machine, which can emulate i386 architecture. I would recommend VirtualBox (—a free open source software which works well on many existing platforms. There are many alternatives (including open source), for example:

and some other programmes. The emulator can be run for the entire DVD disk or for an ISO image, see item 4(j) below. The ISO image is located on DVD or can be freely downloaded from Web. For the latest ISO image look for a download link at the description of the project [2, 1] files:

2  Installation of VirtualBox

Here we outline the procedure for VirtualBox, for other emulators you may need to make some adjustments. To use VirtualBox follow these steps:

  1. Insert the DVD disk in your computer.
  2. Go to the Web site of VirtualBox ( and proceed to Download page for your platform.
  3. Install the VirtualBox on your computer and launch it.
  4. Create a new virtual machine according to the following steps:
    1. Start the VirtualBox and you shall be presented with a screen similar to this:
    2. Click on the New icon to create a new virtual machine, the New Virtual Machine Wizard shall appear. Click Next.
    3. In the next dialogue chose the new machine name, e.g. cycle in the example screen below. Set up Operation System and Version to be Linux and Debian respectively. Then click Next.
    4. The next dialogue sets the base memory size. The default value shall be reasonable, thus simply click Next.
    5. On the next screen un-check Boot Hard Disk box and click Next.
    6. Wizard may ask you to reconfirm that you do not want to have a hard disk, click Continue on the pop-up window.
    7. Wizard shall present the summary of new machine’s settings, click Create.
    8. The new machine shall be created and its name appeared in the machine list on the left. We need to add a boot media for this machine, thus click on Storage from the right panel.
    9. In the new dialogue we need to define CD/DVD drive for the virtual machine. The simplest way is to allow an access to the physical CD/DVD of your real computer (if you have one) as on the screen below. If you do not wish to create a virtual hard disk, see item 3 from the next Section, then click OK.
    10. Alternatively you can use a supplied ISO image as a virtual CD/DVD drive. The available ISO image(s) is (are) in the top-level folder iso-images of the supplied DVD. You can use it from there or (for a better performance and silence) copy to some location on your hard drive. See file README in the top-level folder iso-images for a description of image(s). Then you need to tell the path to the image to the virtual machine. Click on the DVD icon on the right and select Choose a virtual CD/DVD file... from the menu. Point to the ISO image at the file selection dialogue. If you do not wish to create a virtual hard disk, see the item 3 from the next Section, then click OK.
    The ISO image virtual-cycle.iso is optimised to work with VirtualBox. For example, you can use the clipboard for cut&paste operations between the virtual machine and the native desktop.
  5. To use a modern i686 kernel you need allow the “PAE feature” it in the virtual machine’s settings. Go to System/Processor tab and tick the “Enable PAE/NX” box.
  6. Since an emulation of a computer is rather resource demanding it is better to close all other applications on weak computers (e.g. with a RAM less than 1Gb).
  7. Start the newly created machine, you only need to click Start for this:
    You will need to proceed through steps 5-6 from the previous subsections, as if the DVD is booting on your real computer. As soon as the machine presents the graphic user interface you are ready to use the software.

If you succeeded in this you may start use the CAS. Next Sections suggest some hints how to make your work more effective.

3  Enhancements of a Virtual Machine

There are several ways to improve your experience with emulations.

  1. Note that your virtual machine may share cut&paste facilities with your actual desktop.
  2. There are possibilities to exchange files between your real computer and virtual machine:
    1. The emulator, e.g. VirtualBox, may be equipped with drivers or auxiliary programmes to access content of virtual hard drives, see documentation of your emulator for this. Detailed instructions how to create such a virtual hard drive with VirtualBox are presented in item 3 below.
    2. If your real computer runs ftp or sshd daemon you can access its file system from inside of the virtual machine. For this run Midnight Commander by typing the command
      # mc
      on the command prompt of a terminal in the virtual machine. Then use F9 Left FTP link or F9 Left Shell link to access the file system of your real computer. See help of Midnight Commander (press F1 for this) for further information.
  3. For a regular use of the emulator it is better to have a virtual hard disk. This will allow to store your work between different emulation sessions. To create such a disk follows the following steps:
    1. Go to the Storage menu as was described before in item 4(h) from the previous Section. Click on Add Hard Disk icon in the IDE controller line. You shall be presented with the following question, chose Create new disk.
    2. Virtual Fisk Creation Wizard shall start. You need to chose the type of file. If you have not got special reasons, e.g. compatibility with other emulators or file exchange (cf. item 2(a) below), simply click Next.
    3. In the next dialogue you can again preserve the default value by clicking Next.
    4. Chose a name for your new hard disk or specify the full path to its location. You need also specify the size of disk. The default value of 8Gb is too large if you only interested in using CAS. The disk of 100Mb will be sufficient and not a big burden to your real hard disk.
    5. The last page will show you a summary of your choices, click Create here.
    6. Now you need to initialise the new hard drive. Start the virtual machine as described in item 7 from the previous Section. Open Main menu Accessories Root terminal. At the command prompt type:
      $ sudo init-vhdd
      WARNING: This command will erase the whole content of your new virtual hard drive. Thus you need to call it only once after the new virtual hard drive was created. Note also that, you cannot damage the content of your real hard drive from inside of the virtual machine.
    7. Reboot or switch-off your virtual machine. After it will be started again your home directiry shall be stored on the virtual hard drive. Thus all information written where shall be available for any further session with the virtual machine. You can access this information with some special programmes as well.


Vladimir V. Kisil. Schwerdtfeger–Fillmore-Springer-Cnops construction implemented in GiNaC. Adv. Appl. Clifford Algebr., 17(1):59–70, 2007. On-line. A more recent version: arXiv:cs.MS/0512073. The latest documentation, source files, and live ISO image are at the project page: Zbl05134765.
Vladimir V. Kisil. Ensembles of cycles programmed in GiNaC. 2014–2015. arXiv:1512.02960. Project page:
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Last modified: June 21, 2017.
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