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VirtualBox’s Little Secret: The Command Line

Jan 19, 2010, 23:34 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Ken Hess)

"It may surprise you to know that sneaking around under that cute VirtuaBox GUI, with its colorful graphics, explicit Settings page and numerous dropdown lists, is the occult world of the command line. The true power of this dark realm reveals itself to those who dare enter its musty catacombs. After you discover the VirtualBox CLI, you might decide that the GUI is little more than lame window dressing (pun intended) created for those passersby who would otherwise ignore the uninspiring black rectangle of the real application. Command Line Power

"The rectangular box to which I refer is the terminal window. The command line offers power automation. Using scripts in the form of Perl, shell scripts or some other language is the only automation method that I'm aware of on *nix systems. The system scheduler daemon (cron) assists you in firing your scripts at the right times. It's the power of the command line through automation that requires system administrators have scripting capability in their cache of skills. Every system administrator job opening you see will have shell scripting and at least one other interpreted language listed as requirements.

"For virtualization, the command line allows you to rapidly create virtual disks, add a new network interface, start VMs and create new VMs, all without the use of a GUI. Scripted automation also allows you to schedule a VM's start and shutdown without intervention. And, if you're a really clever scripter, you can create a script that will send you through a series of prompts to create a VM, start, install and update it with very little intervention."

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