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Presentation notes from JMU Unix Users Group meetings

JMU CS Virtual Machine

Now that you have successfully installed the virtual machine, it will need to be configured for the courses that you are taking. We use a tool called Ansible to assist in the configuration process.

If you want to see the details of how this is implemented, you can view the GitHub project maintained by the Unix Users Group.

Configuring the VM for your class

The easiest way to configure your virtual machine is to use the provided program. On your desktop, there is a shortcut called “JMU CS VM Configuration.” Open this tool and check the boxes for each course that you will need to have your virtual machine set up for. Once you have selected the necessary courses, click “Run.” You can watch the status in the black terminal window within the program and you will receive a notification when the configuration is complete.

Installing and removing software

Though all software you should need will be installed when you configure the virtual machine for your classes, you may want to install more software for your own use.

Using the Software Manager GUI

In the Menu, search for the Software Manager application. You can use this to search for software to install. Much like the App Store or Play Store, once you find what you’re looking for, click the “Install” button.

Using the apt tool on the command line

apt is a tool used by several variants of Linux to install software. The term generally used to describe the software that you install with apt is a package. For detailed information about how to use apt, you can either run man apt or apt --help in your terminal; however, a basic primer is included below.

To install a particular package, run

sudo apt update
sudo apt install PACKAGE

where PACKAGE is the name of the package you want to install.

To remove a particular package, run

sudo apt remove PACKAGE

To find package that corresponds to the software you want, run

apt search KEYWORD

where KEYWORD is the software to search for.A

To update all software on your system, run

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

Linux Mint provides a list of all available packages.

Shutting down and snapshotting the virtual machine

To shut down the virtual machine, you have a few options. You can either:

These options will completely shut down your virtual machine; however, you can simply save the machine’s state until the next time you’re ready to use it by just pausing the VM. VirtualBox automatically pauses the virtual machine if you close the window the machine is running in.

There may be times where you will want to preserve a copy of the virtual machine’s state, such as before making a major change. To do this, you can go to the Machine menu, click “Take snapshot,” and then name the snapshot something meaningful and press “Ok.” Snapshots should not be used as a long-term backup solution. Over time, the cumulative size of the snapshots can grow quickly, taking up a large amount of disk space. In general, it is best to keep a few snapshots and to mostly focus on taking snapshots before making major changes to your virutal machine

Connecting to stu easily is a server managed by the department that you will need to use throughout your courses.

Using FileZilla

If you only need to access stu for to copy files to or from your VM, then you can use FileZilla. In the Mint menu, search for FileZilla and open it. In the top-left corner of the FileZilla window, click the black arrow. In the menu that comes up, select the “JMU CS Student server (stu)” option. You will then be prompted for your JMU e-ID password. After entering that, you will be prompted to accept a key, you can click “Ok” on that prompt. You will then be connected to stu and will be able to copy files.

Using the command line

If you need to run commands on stu or ortherwise interact with it directly, you can use ssh.

To connect to stu, open up a terminal window and type


where EID is your JMU e-ID.

This will prompt you for your e-ID password and after entering it, you will be connected to stu.

Eventually you may find it exhausting to type your password in every time that you need to connect to stu. You can use an SSH key to sign in to stu so that you don’t need to use your password.

To generate a key, run

ssh-keygen -t rsa

Follow the prompts, using the default location, and choose a password (preferably one that’s different from your JMU e-ID password).

Then run


to add the key to your SSH agent.

Finally, copy the key to stu using the following command:


again replacing EID with your JMU e-ID.

Now you can use your key to connect to stu instead of your password.

Reporting problems with the VM

Should you encounter any issues with your virtual machine or if you notice there is software that you wish was installed by default, open an issue on the GitHub project. You can use this same form to request software be added for a particular course. If you get an error while configuring the virtual machine, try to have any files in /opt/vmtools/logs on your VM ready if possible when creating an issue.

Getting involved with the UUG

To learn more about how to use your new VM or being a part of a community of users of open-source software, come to a meeting of the Unix Users Group on Wednesday nights at 6:30PM in ISAT 246.

Follow us on Twitter @jmunixusers or see upcoming events on BeInvolved.