DropBox is an online storage and sync service that can be used over multiple platforms: Linux – Mac and Windows. Since Dropbox relies on Amazon S3 storage services, its as reliable as any online storage services out there. They have a free and paid service and their free service gives
5GB 2GB storage, which is what I am using right now. Dropbox is yet to open up their API (planned) but you can still do some really nice things with it like creating a virtual machine with virtualbox and save it on your dropbox; you can open up this “virtual disk” from any other machine with virtualbox and when you make any changes to the VM it gets synced and saved, so that you can go to a third computer to use the virtual machine and the changes will be there.
When you first create a virtual machine, it uploads the “virtual disk” to dropbox, which can take some time depending on your upload speed but once its created it gets synced with all your dropbox client computers.
Note: If you make any large changes to your virtual machine in one of your computer, you have to wait for it to synch before you shutdown your computer/virtual machine or the changes will be lost.
1) Get a free dropbox account and install the desktop client.
2) Install a virtual machine with virtualbox (how to), when creating “Fixed disk image” make sure you link to your dropbox folder. For this example I used Damn Small Linux, because it requires small disk space to install which is faster for me to upload/sync. If you want to install a large Linux Distribution (like Ubuntu) you should know that the minimum disk requirement for a full ubuntu install is 10GB (which is way more space than a free dropbox account gives you). You can still do it with Pro account (50GB) but with bigger disk image it will take longer to sync.
Installing from Linux
3) DSL is a live ISO image so you have to install it to your virtual HD (how to).
4) Once you have finished installing DSL and it has been synced with all your other computers by Dropbox clients (took me 5 minutes), you can open your virtual machine with virtual box from any platforms, make changes and the changes will be updated/synced. When opening the disk image from any other computer you just have to create a new virtual machine with virtual box and link to the disk image saved on dropbox when assigning disk image.
Linking to the Dropbox Virtual Disk under OSX
Running the same Disk image on a Mac:
Is it Practical?
I think this is more practical than having a USB installed virtual machine. For someone like me who depends on virtual machines a lot I think this is the ideal solution. There is also an unofficial USB client for dropbox which you can use at your own risk from here.
If you liked this article, please share it on del.icio.us, StumbleUpon or Digg. I’d appreciate it.