Setting up a NodeJS Test VM with VirtualBox Windows

NOTE: The Macintosh instructions are a bit different. I’ll write those up later.

Download node.js bitnami vm image

Go to and grab the node.js appliance image. Extract all, rename resulting folder to VM-InqSim-Ubuntu

Then, install on VirtualBox (here are instructions). Basically:

  • unpack archive
  • make new 64-bit Ubuntu VM with 512MB of memory and bridged networking.
  • for hard disk, use existing image, and choose the main .vmdk image (not the s001, etc files).

Boot VM

Start it up! Pick a new password when prompted. I’m using inq!nami for all our test images, which is fine because this is a private test server on my home network.

Enable SSH

Follow instructions here:

sudo mv /etc/init/ssh.conf.back /etc/init/ssh.conf
sudo start ssh

Update the Package Cache for Apt-Get, then Apply Upgrades

(this can take quite some time)

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

OPTIONAL Install JED, an emacs-like editor

Alternatively, you could skip this and use vi or nano. Pick one:

sudo apt-get install mg
sudo apt-get install jed
sudo apt-get install emacs23-nox (this is what I use)

(or search with sudo apt-cache search <string>)

Switch to Static IP

A static ip will allow me to address this machine by hostname, which I will manually set-up.

First, assign the static IP. I’m using for this VM/

sudo su -
emacs /etc/network/interfaces
   iface eth0 inet static

<p>emacs /etc/resolvconf/resolve.conf.d/base
add these lines:

<p>/etc/init.d/networking restart

Then, assign hostname manually:

emacs /etc/hostname so it contains:

<p>emacs /etc/hosts as follows: inqsim.vbox</p>

<p>reboot now</p>

ifconfig (to check settings took)
hostname (to check settings took)

Prepare Mimosa Development Environment

Mimosa is like Yeoman: it is a nodeJS-based javascript development environment. You do your client webapp development AND testing on the same machine. The nodeJS server is used both for “compiling” your webapp as well as doing test-serving.

This is a good time to take a SNAPSHOT in VirtualBox in case something screws up. First shut down the virtualbox safely by typing:

sudo poweroff

Then, in VirtualBox, take a snapshot so you can revert back to this pristine server state if you want to try other stuff.

Install Git

sudo apt-get install git-core

Install Mimosa

Mimosa is a node module, so we load it with npm (see instructions). In our case, though, we don’t want to have to sudo everytime we want to execute a mimosa command. That would suck. So we have to modify our node npm configuration file before installing mimosa.

(make sure you are user bitnami, not root)</p>

<p>cd ~
echo prefix = ~/.node &gt;&gt; ~/.npmrc
emacs ~/.bashrc ... add line PATH=&quot;$HOME/.node/bin:$PATH&quot; before &#039;export PATH&#039;
source .bashrc
echo $PATH ... make sure PATH is updated

The .npmrc file tells npm to install modules in the current user's directory under .node, and edits the user's path so running npm commands happens out of our own user directory. Theoretically, not requiring root permission for everything.

With that set, we can install our node module, mimosa, as a regular user without the sudo command!

npm install -g mimosa

Retrieving our Durandal-based Project

I have just put it on bitbucket, so I'm using the following to retrieve it from the repo:

(make sure you are user bitnami, not root)</p>

<p>cd ~
mkdir Dev
cd Dev
git clone
cd inqsimtest-durandal

The magic of mimosa and other javascript package managers is that they can automatically download dependent libraries, so our git repo only has our own source code. To kick everything off, you can do:

mimosa build

…and everything is retrieved and built. It will take a while the first time through.

Pushing Changes

Pushing your changes back up to the repo (the origin master, I think it's called), here's how to modify your changed files.

git status 
git commit -m &quot;modified these files note&quot;
git push

Pulling Changes

The quick way is to do git pull, which will do a get fetch followed by a git merge without asking you for permission.

Remote Testing

Since the bitnami node.js VM is headless (no graphics), we use the host OS browser to view the application. First, you need to modifu the Ubuntu firewall rules to allow port 3000 through. You just need to execute the command once, and it will be set forever.

sudo ufw allow 3000

Now, you can use mimosa to compile and spawn a local server that watches for changes to your source code.

mimosa watch --server

Then on the host machine, browse to or http://inqsim.vbox:3000to see the app running. You can ssh into the vm to open new editor windows, and live reload will work as long as the server is running (you started it with mimosa watch -s or mimosa watch --server).

To make ssh from the host (the windows machine) easier, we can assign hostname in /etc/hosts of host computer. On windows, it’s C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\etc\hosts

Run Notepad as Adminstrator by right-clicking the icon and choose “Run As Administrator”. Make sure that “all files” is the filter setting when opening it with Notepad, so you can see thoe hosts file. In the file add the following line: inqsim.vbox

Then, try SSHing into the local host (ssh or ssh inqsim.vbox) using PuTTY. You may want to set PuTTY’s xterm (under Data-Connection-Term) to xterm-256color.

EXPERIMENTAL Guest Folder Support

(this doesn’t work on Windows, perhaps due to lack of symlink support? Haven’t tried on Mac)

It would be nice if we could edit the files on the guest VM using a nice editor on the host, instead of using the text-only environment of the Bitnami VM. VirtualBox has shared folder support. You can share a folder on the host so it appears within the guest.

There’s two parts to this config. First, use the VirtualBox Manager app on the host to:

  • poweroff the vm
  • edit setting ‘Shared Folders’
  • add a new ‘Machine Folder’, and pick a folder in your host’s filesystem along with a “sharename” (e.g. vm_inqsimdev)
  • save settings, and boot the vm

Next you need to mount the shared folder you just created, but you also have to build the support code into the linux kernel. You’ll compile this from “VirtualBox Guest Additions”, which is virtual CD you mount under the Devices->Insert Guest Additions CDROM menu.

You will need to install some additional development tools and run a script:

sudo apt-get install linux-headers-<code>uname -r</code> dkms</p>

<p>sudo mkdir /media/cdrom
sudo mount /dev/cdrom /media/cdrom
cd /media/cdrom
sudo /

You'll probably see a "FAILURE NO X", but hopefully everything else is built (sharing is what we want). Using the instructions here:

sudo emacs /etc/fstab -- add the following line (put spaces between each entry):
   vm_inqsimdev /home/bitnami/vm_inqsim vboxsf defaults,uid=1000,gid=1000 0 0</p>

<p>sudo reboot

We edited fstab (the file system table) to add a new hard virtual storage space, our shared folder vm_inqsimdev, to the mountpoint /home/bitnami/inqsim. The values for uid and gid are obtained using id -u bitnami and id -g bitnami respectively.

Now we can grab our source through git as described above:

cd ~/vm_inqsim
git clone
cd inqsimtest-durandal
mimosa build

We have to move the .node directory into this file system, though…FAIL to build…look at this later.

EXPERIMENTAL Samba networking

If the above guest folder doesn't work, you could install Samba. So let’s install it (instructions):

sudo su -
apt-get install samba samba-common
emacs /etc/nsswitch.conf -- add “wins” before the last item on the hosts line
cp /etc/samba/smb.conf /etc/samba/smb.conf.bak</p>

<p>emacs /etc/samba/smb.conf
.. copied smb.conf template from install instructions link (above)
.. edit workgroup to match your workgroup setting on the host machine
.. edit hostname to BitnamiVM</p>

<p>service smbd restart
service nmbd restart
ufw allow samba

If you don't see the BITNAMIVM show up, make sure that the VirtualBox networking is set to "bridged".

The following configuration changes adds a "bitnami" account for sharing (instructions):

emacs /etc/samba/smb.conf</p>

<p>.. add this section to end of smb.conf
.. change path to point to where the dev directory is</p>

  comment = Bitnami Dev
  browseable = yes
  path = /home/bitnami/
  guest ok = yes
  force user = bitnami
  read only = no
  create mask = 0775
  directory mask = 0755

This is a wide-open account, but if it’s running at home it’s probably OK. I can probably make it so it’s running in a host mode that is more secure.

If you have problems seeing files, check the /var/log/samba/ folder in the VM for information about what’s going wrong. Correct paths and permissions are critical.