Friday, April 17, 2009

Playing with Virtualisation & Jing

After the ATI course last week I decided to bring one of the school Apple laptops with me to Portrush to play with. OS X is all well and good with its smooth & snazzy gui etc. but I found myself missing my Linux desktop for getting things done. Yep I could do pretty much everything through OS X but ....... well ..... I like Linux.

So time to try out virtualisation. Found a free application from Sun called Virtualbox , downloaded it and a beta ISO of the next version of Ubuntu and gave it a whirl. My verdict after playing for a couple of hours - It works really well. It should both run on Windows and run a Windows virtual machine and I'll try this out when I go home at the weekend. It has settings for running virtual machines for every version of Windows from 7, which is still in beta, back to 3.1. It does loads of other operating systems including BSD unix and Solaris. While Virtualbox runs fine on a Mac you can't create an OS X virtual machine as this is forbidden in the licence for OS X.

I wanted to show this in action and started checking out screen video capturing software. Jing seemed to work just fine so I coughed up $15 for the version that saves as a video file as well as SWF, which the free version does and am very impressed with it. There is a free one called RecordMyDesktop that runs on Linux but I couldn't find a good free one for OS X. The video below shows the Linux desktop booting up inside a window on an Apple laptop. Jing will record a voiceover as well but when I was using it for this one the fans on the laptop came on and it sounded like an airplane taking off. So I pulled the video into iMovie, deleted the audio track and did a voiceover instead with the fans turned off. An external microphone is probably the best way to go but I don't have one here with me. Then I loaded it up to Youtube and voila.



Not sure where the educational value of Virtualbox lies yet. I suppose we could run software designed for one platform on another one but not sure we have a use for that in my school. I reckon any techie students I work with will be interested in playing with it.

Something like Jing though, which runs on Windows as well, will be very useful. Rather than trying to demo everything live in class I can do the old Blue Peter trick of "Here's one I made earlier". It will also mean I can record a good demo and reuse it whenever needed or make it available to students to watch in their own time. Wink is a similar application for Windows that may be worth checking out. It can output in a variety of formats including PDF and SWF but not a video format so you can't upload to Youtube or the likes unless you convert it to a video format first.