DSL with VirtualBox

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Booting DSL as a guest system (running inside your operating system, like DSL-embedded) with VirtualBox, a free and powerfull virtualization software.
You can boot your DSL from the DSL ISO file (the file used to burn DSL) or from a DSL CD.


Configuration summary

Summary of the most important settings to know to configure VirtualBox for DSL:

  • Operating System: "Linux"
  • Version: "Linux 2.4" (DSL is not a 64 bit linux system)
  • Minimum recommended RAM: 64 MB. Good is 256 ~ 512 MB.

Configuring DSL in VirtualBox

Here is a detailed tutorial explaining the steps to configure and launch DSL as a Live CD without hard disk, in VirtualBox.

  • Click on the "New" button.
  • Give it a name, like "DSL" or "DSL 4.x.x" (you can rename it at any time).
  • Choose "Linux" as Operating System, and "Linux 2.4" as the version.
  • Base memory size (RAM): minimum recommended is 64 MB. I recommend you to choose between 256 and 512 MB. (You can change this at any time later, through the settings button)
  • Hard disk: here you can choose a file or create a file that will be used to store the datas of a virtual disk available to DSL. In this tutorial we don't use any virtual the hard disk. So just uncheck "Boot Hard Disk" and continue to the next step, and accept the warning about not attaching a hard disk to the new virtual machine.
  • Click Finish.
  • Now select your DSL entry on the list of virtual guests.
  • Click on the "Settings" button.
  • Click the "Storage" button, show the "CD/DVD ROM" tab.
  • Check "Mount CD/DVD Drive". Now you have to choose between "Host CD/DVD Drive" if you want to boot from a CD mounted in your computer, or "ISO Image File" if you want to boot from the ISO file of DSL.
    • If you choose "Host CD/DVD Drive": select the drive containing your CD in the list.
    • If you choose "ISO Image File": click on the button on the right of the list. A window opens (containing all the images of your virtual medias). Click on "Add", select your file, click on "Select" to close the window.
  • Click "OK" to close your settings window.
  • You can now launch DSL with the "Start" button. Enjoy.

Help and Tips

  • !!! To leave DSL and return to your OS, use the Host Key (by default it is the Right Control key, you can change it in the VirtualBox preferences): you can see what your HostKey is by looking at the bottom right of the window. When you press this key, DSL releases your mouse and your keyboard, so you can use them in your host system.
  • If your host system has Internet, then DSL should have access to Internet without any other configuration.
  • Your USB discs should work without any more configuration. The only point is that you cannot have your USB device mounted at the same time by your host system and by DSL. Here are some steps you can try to make it work:
    • First plug in your USB device.
    • Then try to unmount/remove/eject (the name of the action depends on your system) your USB device from your host system, but without physically unplugging it.
    • Click on the USB devices icon at the bottom right of the window containing DSL, and select your USB device. (It may not be the name of your device, but the name of its manufacturer, so try to find it)
    • From DSL try to mount your USB device. It is most probably called "sda1". (You may have to wait about 10 ~ 20 seconds before it is available)
    • When you want to remove it, first unmount it and then don't forget to uncheck your USB device from the USB devices list.
    • If trying to add a device in host Mac OS X, completely eject the drive (instead of unmounting it). Otherwise, the USB drive will show up as busy.

Add a Virtual Hard Drive

If you want to keep your datas (like your MyDSL extensions, your documents, ...), you can create a Virtual Hard Drive. Here is a detailed tutorial:

  • In VirtualBox, go to the menu > File > Virtual Media Manager...
  • Click on New and follow the instruction. (The only thing you need to set is the disk size. You can keep every other setting unchanged)
  • Once your have finished the creation of the new Virtual Hard Disk, click on OK to close the Virtual Media Manager.
  • Now select your DSL entry on the list of virtual guests, and click on the "Settings" button.
  • Click the "Storage" button, show the "CD/DVD ROM" tab.
  • Form here you have a list of the Virtual Hard Disks attached to your DSL. You can add, remove and edit them. Click on the "+" icon to add a new disk. In the drop down menu, select the disk you just created 1 minute ago. Make sure you add the virtual disk under the "IDE Controller", DSL can't read the disk if it is under "SATA Controller"
  • When you are done, click "OK" to close your settings window.
  • You can now launch DSL. Enjoy your new virtual disk.

Install to Virtual Hard Drive

If you want to install DSL to the Virtual Hard Drive you created using the previous section, here are the steps:

  • After DSL launches, open ATerminal.
  • Type in the following commands to create a single partition on your virtual disk:

su root

fdisk /dev/hda









  • Now right click on the desktop and choose "Tools->Install to Hard Drive"
  • The "DSL Hard Drive Installation" window will open, and prompt you to "Enter the target partition." Type: hda1
  • You can choose the options as you desire.
  • When the installer prompts you to install a boot loader, enter y.
  • Enter g for grub.
  • When the installer prompts you to reboot, choose yes.
  • As the machine leaves the graphical interface, remove the virtual CD by clicking "Devices->CD/DVD Devices->Unmount CD/DVD Devices".

DSL is now installed. As your virtual machine reboots, you should see the GRUB prompt with 4 options. Congratulations! DSL is now successfully installed onto your Virtual Hard Drive.

Other virtualization software

Other virtualization software you may want to try: