Gonzalo Rivero
Gonzalo Rivero
I am Gonzalo, I live in Salta, a city located in the NW of Argentina. I play the guitar and a little harmonica. I also like to bike.

How to run Redox OS with gnome-boxes

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I’m back in the topic “not that known free/open operating systems that aren’t a linux distribution“. Today I’ll show how to run Redox OS with gnome-boxes.

Redox OS features

According to the OS website: «Redox is a Unix-like Operating System written in Rust, aiming to bring the innovations of Rust to a modern microkernel and full set of applications.

  • Microkernel Design
  • Includes optional GUI – Orbital
  • Supports Rust Standard Library
  • MIT Licensed
  • Drivers run in Userspace
  • Includes common Unix commands
  • Custom libc written in Rust (relibc) »

That’s sound promising, let’s give it a try.

Downloading

You can get Redox from https://www.redox-os.org/news/release-0.7.0/ . There are a couple of images, but two of them are the recommended ones: OVA for virtual machines and X86_64 uefi for real hardware.

I’m going to create a VM for Redox, so I choose the OVA format.

Trying Redox in a Virtual Machine

If you use for example VirtualBox, you just can import the ova file and this is it. With qemu-kvm (remember that gnome-boxes is just a front end) it’s a little bit complicated.

First we need to extract the disk image from the package. Fortunatelly an ova file is just a tar file containing the VM metadata and disk(s) image(s), so just extract with

tar xvf redox.ova
now I can launch gnome-boxes

Then, import the .vmdk file into boxes by creating a new VM and using the last option (Operating System Image File) on the wizard.

On the next screen choose Unknown for the template then next to see a summary:

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Click on create and wait a few seconds until your brand new VM starts:

select your screen resolution

The very first step is to choose your screen resolution, I have an old 19” 1280×1024 screen, I select 1024×768.

The second step is to boot the OS until it fails miserably:

RTFM

At least, it didn’t work for me. The first thing I’ve tried is to convert the image format to qcow2 (the one used by gnome-boxes).

qemu-img convert -f vmdk -O qcow2 Redox-disk001.vmdk Redox-0.7.qcow

Then I’ve tried again, and it failed again. You may know, actually you should know, that often several of hours of trial-and-error will save you a few minutes of manuals reading.

Let’s go then to the official documentation. There they give you a command line for qemu. By the way, gnome-boxes is just a front-end for qemu. Run Redox like this:

qemu-system-x86_64 -serial mon:stdio -d cpu_reset -d guest_errors -smp 4 -m 1024 -s -machine q35 -device ich9-intel-hda -device hda-duplex -net nic,model=e1000 -net user -device nec-usb-xhci,id=xhci -device usb-tablet,bus=xhci.0 -enable-kvm -cpu host -drive file=redox-0.7.qcow2

On the official documentation they use a raw disk image, but this is for the previous release, I changed that part for running with the converted disk image.

Now it works!

notice the mouse pointer

The default password for root is password.

notice the cursor on the same spot

New problem: the mouse doesn’t move and I don’t know the keyboard shortcuts to work without a mouse. Also, it didn’t appear on my gnome-boxes VMs list.

Fix the metadata

I know the error I’ve got on my first try (or every try from gnome-boxes):

redoxfs: not able to mount uuid ...

is related with the harddrive. I’ve tried different disks format (ide, virtio,…) until I foundthe correct one. Right-click on the Redox vm to go to properties. Then go to the system tab and click on edit xml:

Then, find the highlighted section:

And change it like this:

If you want to copy and paste, you need to go from this:

    <disk type="file" device="disk">
      <driver name="qemu" type="qcow2"/>
      <source file="https://1118798822.rsc.cdn77.org/home/sfish/Descargas/iso_img/redox-0.7/redox-0.7.qcow2"/>
      <target dev="hda" bus="ide"/>
      <address type="drive" controller="0" bus="0" target="0" unit="0"/>
    </disk>

To this:

    <disk type="file" device="disk">
      <driver name="qemu" type="qcow2" cache="writeback"/>
      <source file="https://1118798822.rsc.cdn77.org/home/sfish/Descargas/iso_img/redox-0.7/redox-0.7.qcow2"/>
      <backingStore/>
      <target dev="sda" bus="sata"/>
      <address type="drive" controller="0" bus="0" target="0" unit="0"/>
    </disk>

Try again, from the icon on gnome-boxes and Redox will start. Also the mouse works this time. And this is how to run Redox OS with gnome-boxes.

Trying out Redox OS

Now that the OS works, lets see whats included:

A web browser, a command line terminal, file manager, editor, calculator, calendar, image viewer and a Character map. Enough to test a new Operating System on development. From the screenshots on the Redox site, I wanted to try a command:

screenfetch. A summary of my Redox System

Now, if you didn’t want to save reading time, this is the link to the Redox OS Manual.

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