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A Virtual Machine would be needed if your development machine is not running one of the OSes supported by Bigtop. For the purpose we'd be using a virtual machine for, you'd not find much of the difference between them. Few of the popular choices are:

On Mac: VirtualBox, VmWare Fusion

Windows: VirtualPC, VmWare Server, Virtual Box

Linux: VirtualBox, VmWare Server

Here are few easy steps to set up a virtual box system:

  1. Grab the binaries from https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads and install it on your system. Linux has separate binaries for 32 bit and 64 bit systems. Choose appropriately. Turn off all the security agents, antiVirus, firewalls etc on your machine that can throttle the network connectivity your virtual machine.
  2. Check if the guest OS that you want to install is already available on http://virtualboxes.org/images/. If it is, just open the image in virtualbox and skip to step 5. 
  3. Download the ISO image of the guest OS you need from the respective websites. 
  4. Create a new VM (click on the "New" button):
    1. Maximize the amount of memory you allocate to the vm. You are going to run Hadoop nodes on it, so don't skimp on memory.
    2. Allocate at least 10G of disk space ( if you are planning to build Bigtop i.e).
    3. Turn of all the useless features like sound and floppy (unless you are still rocking a PC-AT).
  5. Once your basic setup is done, start your vm and update your guest OS (e.g. by invoking update-manager in ubuntu).
  6. On your VM window go to Devices->Install Guest Additions to install all the drivers needed by vbox.
  7. You are now ready to use this VM (make a snapshot in case you mess something up in the builds later).

Troubleshooting: 

  1. Network utilities of the guest OS might stop working after the computer wakes up from a sleep/hibernation etc. Just refresh the network interface of the guest OS to obtain the correct settings.
  2. If the host OS is Windows Vista or Windows & firewall/scanners cannot be disabled, and are having trouble with the network connectivity this link might be of some help (option 1 has been tested to work).
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