Install Debian Etch as guest in Virtualbox

In order to prepare Linux executables for distribution, it’s a good idea to compile the executable in an old Linux distribution. Thus it depends only on “old” versions of libraries and the executable should work on most distributions out there (which provide newer but backward compatible libraries). E.g. Dialogblocks, a RAD for wxWidgets, is built in Debian Etch. If you don’t have a spare computer lying around it’s a good idea to install Debian Etch in a virtual machine like VirtualBox.

The following instructions are mainly taken from this site, but  I want to keep them on my site for reference. So

  • first download Debian Etch. The netinst CD image will suffice.
  • Create a new virtual machine, Linux/Debian, 1GB, create a new 20GB harddisc. Attach the downloaded iso image as cdrom.
  • Start the machine and install Debian Etch as usual.
  • After the installation process, update the system with “apt-get update” and “apt-get upgrade” as root.
  • Prepare system for kernel module build with “apt-get install build-essential module-assistant” as root.
  • As root run “m-a prepare” so that modules can be build.
  • Now mount the guest additions image, run “cd /cdrom” and “ sh ./” as root.

In fact Debian Etch doesn’t run perfectly, e.g. you can’t change the screen size to any arbitrary value. And Debian crashes during a reboot. But it’s good enough to just compile your executable. The main development should still be done on your favorite OS/Linux distribution.

  • reboot

2 thoughts on “Install Debian Etch as guest in Virtualbox

  1. Thanks. This process still works with Squeeze. It’s useful to a have a linux distro on the PC for web development I find, especially when looking to do something like forking (which you can do easily on Windows…)

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