If your laptop/desktop does not have an Intel/AMD CPU, then most likely, you will not be able to run Ubuntu 16.04in VirtualBox or VMware Fusion. Your last resort is to use Viterbi's MyDesktop (with VMware Horizon), which is one of Viterbi's Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI) system that runs a Windows 10 desktop on an Intel CPU at USC. (If you don't have a good Internet connection to USC, this will not be a good option for you.) In the Usage Guidelines section of the Viterbi IT web page, there is a link that points you to a MyDesktop Logon Instructions website. Click on it to see more information.

Instead of reading all the stuff on the websites mentioned above, you can just follow the steps below.

Please note that this system has some major limitations:

  • It does not have an Internet connection! The only way to download/upload files from this system is to share a folder on your host machine with MyDesktop.
  • You only have 15 GB of storage and it'a all in drive U:. This means that you only have space to install a single virtual machine.
  • Anything that's not saved in drive U: may be gone next time you log on to MyDesktop.
Therefore, you should only use this system to do your assignments and "verify your submissions".

Step 1: Request An Account on MyDesktop

If you have a laptop/desktop that runs on an Intel/AMD CPU, it's best that you install VirtualBox or VMware Fusion on that machine and then install a 32-bit Ubuntu 16.04 system into it. That's the preferred way. If your laptop/desktop does not have an Intel/AMD CPU, please send an e-mail to the instructor to ask him to request an account for you on MyDesktop. Please understand that MyDesktop is running on a remote server. If you have poor Internect connectivity, it can be very painful to use this system.

Step 2: Download and Install VMware Horizon Client

You need to be able to transfer files between your laptop/desktop and MyDesktop. The only way this can be done is by running the VMware Horizon Client desktop application. Point your browser to the MyDesktop start page and click on "Install VMware Horizon Client" and click on "Go To Downloads" for the VMware Horizon Client for your platform (Windows or macOS). Follow the instructions and install the client desktop application and run it (you probably need to restart your machine).

Step 3: Run VMware Horizon Client

Click on Add Server and enter:
    mydesktop.vlab.usc.edu
and double-click on Connect. In the popup window, you will be asked for your USC SSO credential (user name is your USC e-mail address without the "@usc.edu" and password is your USC e-mail password).

You will be presented with a few desktop pools. For this class, you must select the NV-Enhanced Desktop Pool (which has a working VirtualBox pre-installed) and it will launch a virtual machine and this virtual machine instance you see is referred to as MyDesktop.

Step 4: Run MyDesktop

The first time you get into MyDesktop, you will get a popup window asking you if you would like to "shared your removable storage and local files when using remote desktops and applications". This is very important because this allows you to transfer files between your computer and the MyDesktop environment. You should click on Allow here. Now you have access to your desktop folders from within MyDesktop. Please note that due to security concerns, MyDesktop in the NV-Enhanced Pool does not have an Internet connection. So, the only way in and out of MyDesktop is to use the shared folders you have just set up right now.

Right-click on any empty spot on the desktop and select New and then Folder and you will create a new folder on your desktop. You should name it "Shared-ubuntu" to be used as a shared folder between your Ubuntu 16.04 system and MyDesktop. If you double-click on it, you will see all your drives. Drive U is for you to use and you have 10GB of storage space on drive U. You should also see that Drive Z is your home directory and if you have USB drives mounted on your desktop, they will appear as some other networked drives. To manage these "shared folders", you can click on the Options menu at the top center of MyDesktop and select Share Folders. You should create another folder on your desktop and call it "VM". This is the directory where your Ubuntu 16.04 system will be installed. If you have a Mac and don't see the Options menu, you will get notifications when you try to access things like drive Z inside MyDesktop (saying something like "MyDesktop is trying to access this drive"). Just make sure you grant all permissions so you can transfer files between your Mac and MyDesktop.

Step 5: Install 32-bit Ubuntu 16.04 into VirtualBox

You should see that VirtualBox is installed already. Double-click on it to launch it. Before you do anything, you need to configure it to create virtual machines in a drive that's assigned for your use. If you don't do this, any virtual machine you create will disappear at the end of the day (or before that). So, click on the File Menu and select Preferences. The Default Machine Folder should show that your VM folder is in somewhere in C:\Users. Click on the drop-down menu to the right of it and select Other... Navigate to Driver U:, double-click on Desktop, then double-click on "VM" (which is the directory you have just created in Step 4), then click on the Select Folder button and you should see that "U:\Desktop\VM" is now your Default Machine Folder. Click on OK to return back to VirtualBox.

Then all you have to do now is to follow the instructions to install from our virtual appliance (the only difference being that you need to select the "md32xu16047eolvm-vbox6118-f1.ova" from the desktop in MyDesktop, since you cannot connect to the Internet when you are inside MyDesktop). Please also make sure that you setup shared folder so you can copy files in and out of the virtual machine. Please note that this virtual appliance is older than the one mentioned in the main page. Please also make the following changes to your Settings before you launch the virtual machine:

    System -> Motherboard -> Base Memory = 8192MB (i.e., 8GB)
                             Extended Features -> check "Enable I/O APIC"
      System -> Processor -> Processor(s) = 2
        Display -> Screen -> Video Memory = 128MB
                             Graphics Controller = VMSVGA
                             Acceleration -> check "Enable 3D Acceleration"
One thing you should do with this system is that when you launch the Terminal program for the first time, you should type the following at the command prompt:
    sudo apt-get remove unattended-upgrades
It will prompt you for the admin password then it will ask you to confirm your action. By removing "unattended-upgrades", your Ubuntu 16.04 will not run upgrade in the background since that can cause trouble if you turn off your virtual machine at a bad time.

A very important thing to remember about MyDesktop... Only things in your U: driver are persistent (i.e., will stay there when MyDesktop restarts). If you put your data anywhere else, you should not be surprised when it disappeared. So, click on drive U: to see which folders are inside drive U: and don't store any data anywhere else!

Step 6: Using MyDesktop

If you don't need to transfer files in and out of MyDesktop, you can actually use MyDesktop inside a web browser! Just point your browser to https://mydesktop.vlab.usc.edu/ and select VMware Horizon HTML Access. If you have to transfer files between MyDesktop and your computer, then you have to use the VMware Horizon Client mentioned in Step 3 above.