Can VirtualBox please enable/port the extensions pack for FreeBSD ?

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Can VirtualBox please enable/port the extensions pack for FreeBSD ?

Postby bourne.identity » 23. Jul 2017, 18:21

Hi,

I am an individual user of Open Source systems, primarily FreeBSD which I avidly promote as a desktop OS.

I would like to use FreeBSD as my only OS, but I am constantly thwarted by the unavailability of VirtualBox Extensions Pack - which bars from using USB devices other than the mouse/keyboard. I have to install Linux as a second OS to address this shortcoming, but would ideally like - as would many others - that VirtualBox Extensions Pack be natively available under FreeBSD itself.

Could VirtualBox be kind enough to consider the development of Extensions Pack for FreeBSD too ? There are many areas where FreeBSD comes out as a better OS compared to other open source systems : primarily ports, standardised package management, standardised network tools, support for ZFS. I think once a person starts using FreeBSD, [s]he never wishes to migrate to another platform.

For a start, VirtualBox could even make the Extensions Pack for FreeBSD work in basic OHCI (USB-1.0 mode), with support for EHCI/XHCI disabled or gradually developed as time permits.

Thanks for any help/consideration of the matter.
Manish Jain
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Re: Can VirtualBox please enable/port the extensions pack for FreeBSD ?

Postby socratis » 23. Jul 2017, 18:25

bourne.identity wrote:Could VirtualBox be kind enough to consider the development of Extensions Pack for FreeBSD too ?
The Extension Pack is not platform specific. There is no Windows, OSX, Linux or Solaris specific versions. There's only one ExtPack. I'm not sure why you would ask for a FreeBSD specific version. Am I missing something?

bourne.identity wrote:For a start, VirtualBox could even make the Extensions Pack for FreeBSD work in basic OHCI (USB-1.0 mode), with support for EHCI/XHCI disabled or gradually developed as time permits.
If you do not install the ExtPack, USB1 is supported right out of the box. It's USB2/3 that require the ExtPack.
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Re: Can VirtualBox please enable/port the extensions pack for FreeBSD ?

Postby bourne.identity » 23. Jul 2017, 18:43

Thanks a lot for replying so quickly, Socratis.

A platform-specific port was just a suggestion. The basic idea is that installation of the Extensions Pack must not fail. Even if installation succeeds in watered-down mode (with XHCI or both XHCI/EHCI disabled).

As for your assertion that OHCI works, NO, it does not - except for the keyboard and mouse. If you have any doubts about this, try passing in a USB printer or pendrive as OHCI to a Windows XP guest under FreeBSD host. This could work in the sense that the guest might see the device for few seconds, but - with the Extensions Pack not installed - VirtualBox quickly breaks off the USB connection after a few seconds. Is there any way you could copy a 1 GB file from/to the USB pendrive under the guest ? Please try it out to see what I mean.

It will be a major step if USB could be made to work under FreeBSD, even if it is watered-down mode. From hundreds of FreeBSD users around the world, a big thanks if the USB situation could be resolved.

Regards
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Re: Can VirtualBox please enable/port the extensions pack for FreeBSD ?

Postby socratis » 23. Jul 2017, 19:19

bourne.identity wrote:The basic idea is that installation of the Extensions Pack must not fail.
Fails in what sense? I don't have a FreeBSD host so you have to be more detailed in what fails and how.

bourne.identity wrote:As for your assertion that OHCI works, NO, it does not - except for the keyboard and mouse.
I'm not sure if the FreeBSD port supports USB 1.0 right out of the box, but the official VirtualBox? Yes it does. USB 1.0 is a really slow protocol. I really don't know that many devices that support it. A printer? I haven't heard of a USB 1.0 printer, it's no wonder it fails. Trying to copy a 1 GB file? Well, USB 1.0 supports speeds up to 12 Mbit/s. That means it's going to take 682 seconds, or about 11 minutes. I just tried it and it didn't fail although to my surprise it took only about 3 minutes.

So, again, I'm not sure if it's the FreeBSD port that has these problems. Did you try the FreeBSD forums? What did they have to say?
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Re: Can VirtualBox please enable/port the extensions pack for FreeBSD ?

Postby bourne.identity » 23. Jul 2017, 21:31

Thanks for replying, Socratis.

Sorry to note that you don't have a FreeBSD host. That makes testing my statements pretty much impossible.

The situation at my end is this. I tried copy-pasting 2 files : 1x700 MB (avi) and 1x9 MB (exe) under Windows XP guest and Linux (Parrort, amd64) host using OHCI. The result is smooth success. This pretty much corresponds with the situation at your end. But my Linux has VB extension pack installed. I do not know what the situation would be using vanilla OHCI with no extension pack. I am willing - if you were to insist - to uninstall the extension pack and re-report results.

Under FreeBSD, it is a mess - despite the fact that the XP vdi is shared : the same that I use under Linux. I tried to first copy-paste the 700 MB file under XP guest and FreeBSD host. Windows Explorer initially estimated that the copy-paste would take 12 minutes, but then crashed after a few seconds. So badly that I had to close down VirtualBox and reinitialise and reformat the pen drive (under FreeBSD).

I then tried copy-pasting in incremental steps under XP guest again. First I pasted a small (~ 1 KB text file). This succeeded. I then pasted a slightly larger (~ 40 KB) png file. Again success. Then I tried pasting the mid-sized (~9 MB) exe file. That crashed Explorer and I had to close down VirtualBox yet again, and reinitialise and reformat the pen drive (under FreeBSD). Then I tried a second time to paste the 9 MB file. Yet again I had a crash - with an Explorer error message that there had been a Delayed Write Fail for the pen drive. I captured the screenshot of the Delayed Write Fail.

I can send the screenshot (~37 KB) to you if you can tell me where to send it (I am fairly certain that I cannot post attachments to the forum).

At no stage did my USB keyboard/mouse stop working in the XP vm. So essentially, any USB device that is not keyboard/mouse leads to a mess under FreeBSD, even when configured and used correctly as vanilla OHCI. The issue has been discussed a few times at freebsd-questions and each time users are reassured that VirtualBox USB simply does not work for anything other than mouse and keyboard - owing primarily to lack of interest in FreeBSD at Oracle.

That really is regrettable - while Linux and Mac OSX can merely claim to be Unix-like, FreeBSD is the heart of modern Unix. I do wish seriously for somebody to look into the USB code and make sure it works smoothly under FreeBSD too (even if merely OHCI). If that cannot happen without enabling the extension pack under FreeBSD, why not take the plunge ? We have all been waiting for over a year now, and the USB mess just keeps dragging on.

Thanks if you can try to initiate some progress in this respect.
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Re: Can VirtualBox please enable/port the extensions pack for FreeBSD ?

Postby scottgus1 » 24. Jul 2017, 13:13

Here in the forum we are only users. As is usual in the world, 'money makes Virtualbox development go round.'

Oracle's development on free Virtualbox comes from developments on Oracle's pay-for virtualization system which is derived from Virtualbox. The license to begin getting developer support on Virtualbox starts at $6100 (that's $61 per license, 100 license minimum). The developers have said they have their hands over-full handling Oracle's customers' development needs, so we should not expect enhancements suggested by free users to be high on the list unless the enhancements coincide with rich paying customers' needs. That said, users can contribute code, and free Virtualbox is open-source, so someone could figure out how to implement what they'd like Virtualbox to have and submit a code suggestion.

How many rich paying customers will be running a FreeBSD host in their businesses? I wouldn't suppose there'd be many. About your only solution, unless the developers have something up their sleeves - and they never let on whether they do, is to troubleshoot the errors yourself and submit code. How to troubleshoot this would be beyond me, much less submitting fix code. (And I think the Extension Pack is closed-source anyway.) FWIW, as Socratis mentioned before the Extension Pack is a single download that fits with all supported hosts, so the issues you are having might be in the FreeBSD version of Virtualbox, rather than the Extension Pack itself. Virtualbox is open-source, so you may be able to find the glitch, if there is one. As a troubleshooting step, running without Extension Pack might be good to test. And the USB1 code is in open-source Virtualbox, not the Extension Pack, so you could look through the code there, too.

No attachmnets are allowed in the Suggestions sub-forum for any normal users no matter how long they've been posting. You will want to take this troubleshooting discussion to the Other Hosts subforum, maybe. You can post your screenshots and logs there, using the Upload Attachment tab below where you type posts.

bourne.identity wrote:the XP vdi is shared

When you get to the Other Hosts subforum, you might want to explain exactly what you mean by this. It isn't common to share the guest's .vdi file, at least on Windows hosts (it isn't even possible, actually). Maybe it's a FreeBSD thing? Folders within the .vdi can be shared when the guest is running. And so can host folders. But the .vdi itself? Not so sure about that. Please clarify over in Other Hosts.
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Re: Can VirtualBox please enable/port the extensions pack for FreeBSD ?

Postby michaln » 24. Jul 2017, 13:49

The list of supported host platforms reflects customer demand. Forum posts don't, unfortunately.
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Re: Can VirtualBox please enable/port the extensions pack for FreeBSD ?

Postby bourne.identity » 25. Jul 2017, 23:30

Hi socratis/scottgus1/michaln/any others interested in this thread

Thanks a lot for your attention to my report + request.

I appreciate what each one of you has written as perfectly rational. But the need for USB to be functional does not die - it just keeps building.

Here is what I can suggest as a good approach that solves the USB situation as well as creates commercial prospects.

a) OHCI is made functional out-of-the-box, at par with Linux
b) EHCI/XHCI get enabled with the extension pack which is licensed per FreeBSD user for a one-time charge per user. This more or less builds on the approach by Sublime Text, although Sublime Text licenses are egalitarian - not dependent on the OS involved.

Would my suggestion lead to something encouraging - if not in the near future, then perhaps by the start of next year ? Please do let me know if there is some hope in keeping fingers crossed.

Thanks again.
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Re: Can VirtualBox please enable/port the extensions pack for FreeBSD ?

Postby socratis » 25. Jul 2017, 23:49

Once again, you need to talk to the FreeBSD folks. They have their own fork, their own issues. I hope it's understandable...
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Re: Can VirtualBox please enable/port the extensions pack for FreeBSD ?

Postby bourne.identity » 26. Jul 2017, 02:50

Hi Socratis,

I am quite sure FreeBSD developers would be willing to work on porting the extension pack. But first, the sources for the extension pack would be needed. If VB is willing to lend FreeBSD access to the sources for the extension pack, I am fairly certain that could lead somewhere.

Is that possible ?

Thanks
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Re: Can VirtualBox please enable/port the extensions pack for FreeBSD ?

Postby socratis » 26. Jul 2017, 04:46

  1. Once again, the ExtPack is not platform specific.
  2. The ExtPack is proprietary, closed source.
  3. Talk to the FreeBSD folks about your issues. We can do absolutely nothing.
  4. Repetition is not my favorite sport, so I'll stop contributing to this thread at this point.
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Re: Can VirtualBox please enable/port the extensions pack for FreeBSD ?

Postby michaln » 26. Jul 2017, 12:17

bourne.identity wrote:Here is what I can suggest as a good approach that solves the USB situation as well as creates commercial prospects.

As far as I'm aware (and I'm not aware of everything), there are no commercial prospects for VirtualBox on FreeBSD. Which is obviously a bit of a problem because Oracle won't put effort into something that may or may not result in some business when there is already plenty to do for existing customers.

a) OHCI is made functional out-of-the-box, at par with Linux

It's all open source. Go for it, make it as functional as you want.

b) EHCI/XHCI get enabled with the extension pack which is licensed per FreeBSD user for a one-time charge per user. This more or less builds on the approach by Sublime Text, although Sublime Text licenses are egalitarian - not dependent on the OS involved.

That is unfortunately something which is currently simply not possible. I'm not saying it's a good or bad idea, just that it won't happen anytime soon.
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Re: Can VirtualBox please enable/port the extensions pack for FreeBSD ?

Postby michaln » 26. Jul 2017, 12:18

socratis wrote:
  1. Once again, the ExtPack is not platform specific.

It is. The required bits for all supported host platforms are bundled in a single file. But that won't magically make it work on FreeBSD or whatever.
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Re: Can VirtualBox please enable/port the extensions pack for FreeBSD ?

Postby socratis » 26. Jul 2017, 13:30

@michaln
Thanks for the correction/clarification. I was not aware of that. It is closed source after all... ;)
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