I have been having some problems with my employers’ remote access system which uses Aventail SonicWall. Unfortunately it seems that whilst it was previously working fine, some change to my PC means that the Aventail applet (used to verify the endpoint is running the Aventail system scanning agent) does not work correctly so access is not granted. After spending several hours on the phone to my employers’ IT Helpdesk reinstalling different versions of Firefox, IE and Java, I was told my only hope was to reinstall Windows.

Somewhat loathe to do this, at a colleague’s suggestion I decided to instead try connecting via a VM running under VirtualBox. This has been my first foray into virtualisation (other than Xen) since trying out VMWare about a decade ago. VirtualBox seems to have all of the features I remember from VMWare (with the added advantage of being free), and it was fairly quick to set up an Ubuntu VM. It also seems that network support has vastly improved from my early memories and the VM had internet access without requiring any manual intervention. And of course there is now support for hardware virtualisation (AMD-V/VT-x) which should in theory make the VM run faster.

Unfortunately stability seems to be somewhat lacking, the VM seems to hang from time to time, requiring it to be “powered off” and restarted (as a virtual reset does not seem to work). Also the “Seamless Mode” support doesn’t seem to be as seamless as I had hoped – although it does remove the guest OS’s desktop, when windows are moved or resized it seems that the “hole” in the host desktop through which they are visible does not resize with them, so the window ends up being cut off when enlarged in size or part of the guest desktop becomes visible when reduced in size.

Still, not bad for a free virtual machine…