Windows

Installing Oracle VM VirtualBox in Windows 10

Oracle VM VirtualBox is an open source Virtual Machine (VM) management software that is used to create and manage VMs. VirtualBox has been developed by Oracle software company and this post shows a step-by-step procedure on how to install VirtualBox in Windows 10 operating system. This post targets persons with interest in virtualization of OSs or those who would want to perform tests in operating systems that is different from the ones installed in their computer. 

Pre-requisites
  1.  Operating system with Virtualization enabled. The host machine/OS (your PC’s OS) should have virtualization enabled.
  2.  Guest machine’s hardware specifications. For example, if installing Windows 10, the pre-requisites for the OS should be adhered to to avoid issues like crashing due to less memory or space.
Checking for Virtualization in Windows 10

To check for virtualization in Windows 10, log into your Windows PC and right click on the taskbar and the following menu appears.

The menu items on the left consists of settings and customizations of the Windows Task Manager. Click on the Task Manager option to open the Windows Task Manager window.

Our interest is checking on the status of virtualization of the operating system.

 

 

 

The task manager is displayed and appears as shown below. It contains various tabs at the top for services and performance among others. Click on the Performance tab to show the machine’s CPU power, RAM and network usage among others. The performance tab appears as shown below.

 

Note the text circled in red. It indicates whether the virtualization is enables. If not then the computer cannot run VirtualBox and create VMs and needs to be looked at. 

 

Downloading VirtualBox

Navigate in the browser to the Oracle VM VirtualBox’s download page here. The page contains different downloads arranged by supported platform. The download page appears as shown below.

Click on the Windows hosts link above to start downloading the Windows 10 setup. After downloading the setup appears in the file system as shown below. Right click the VirtualBox setup and click Open option as shown below.

An installation wizard appears providing steps for installing VirtualBox and appears as shown below.

The first page is the welcome page. Click Next to continue.

The page above shows different components that come shipped inside the VirtualBox installation setup and the location in which the installation files will be extracted to. To change the location of installation, click Browse button. All the options have been left as default in these steps. Click Next to continue.

Further, the setup shows other customizations on whether the startup menus and shortcuts should be created among others. The options have been left as default as shown above. Click Next to continue.

This page indicates that Oracle VM VirtualBox installer re-configures the currently existing network in order to accommodate setups own network settings. Since the network interfaces are important for connecting VMs with guest and the internet as well, we’ll select Yes button.

This page shows that the configurations of the installer have been completed. To install, click Install.

A green installation progress bar is shown indicating the installation progress level. During installation some pop up windows appear as shown below.

The confirmation for installing Universal Serial Bus (USB) support drivers for VirtualBox is shown first.

The confirmation for installing the network drivers for VirtualBox is also shown. On both popups one can choose whether to check the box next to ‘Always trust software from “Oracle Corporation” then click Install button to proceed with installation.

Once the installation is complete the final page shown above appears. To run VirtualBox immediately after installation, ensure the checkbox for stating VirtualBox is checked as shown above. Once checked, click Finish to close the installation wizard and run VirtualBox.

VirtualBox window appears as shown above and contains several menu items denoted by different icons. For details on the VirtualBox user interface, refer to the official Oracle VM VirtualBox documentation here.

Check the following post on creating a VM in VirtualBox.

Installing Python3 in Windows 10

Python is one of the most commonly used high-level programming language that was invented by Guido Van Rossum in 1991 and is maintained by the Python Software Foundation. One of the major contributors to Python’s rise to fame is its development which had emphasis on code readability and expression of concepts by programmers in fewer lines of code.

Python is a cross-platform software and its learning curve is somewhat smooth learning curve as compared to some other programming languages.

This tutorial highlights the steps taken in installing Python software in Windows 10 operating system and can act as a guide to those beginners who would like to try out the language and also those who might experience challenge in installing the software.  

Downloading Python

To download Python, navigate in your preferred browser to the download page in Python’s official website. When the web page opens it appears as shown below and contains a list of all the Python’s releases for Windows. Click on the first link labelled Download Windows Installer (64-bit)  which assumes that you are using a 64-bit computer otherwise you can download the 32-bit one. The latest version as of this tutorial is version 3.9.2.

The download session starts once the link above has been clicked. The browser being used below is Microsoft Edge therefore if one is using another browser the download window could look different from this one.

Once the download is complete, in open the file explorer and navigate to Downloads folder and the downloaded installer appears as shown below. Note the amd64 suffix that indicated that this is a 64-bit installer.

At this point we have been able to successfully download python installer in the Windows machine and the next step will be to install Python.

Installing Python

To install Python, double click the downloaded installer or alternatively right click and select the first option labelled open and the installation wizard will appear on the screen as shown below. Click on the Customize installation option.

This page shows several options among them being to install with the default settings and to customize the installation.  The important thing in the window above is to ensure that the second checkbox is checked as shown thus ensuring that Python is added to the windows path.

On clicking the customize option, the installation window displays all the optional features and gives the user the liberty to check and uncheck the options shown. Leave the checkboxes as they are and click Next button. 

The window showed below contains the list of advanced options for installation and the text besides the checkboxes explains what each option does and below it the path to the directory of installation. Once satisfied with the options, click Install button.

On clicking Install button above, the installation process begins and the progress of the installation is indicated by the green progress bar shown below.

The installation process may take some minutes depending on the computer processing power and memory. When the installation has completed successfully, the following message is shown in the installation wizard. To view the online tutorials, documentation and the new Python features click on each of the links consecutively, otherwise click Close button to close the installation wizard.

 

After closing the installation wizard, click on the start button on your keyboard that in most cases is a key that has a Windows logo icon on it and type Python and by default, Windows filters the items with the name and the item of our interest in this is the option that has the python console icon as shown below. 

Click on the icon shown above and a black window that looks similar to the Windows Command Prompt (CMD) appears as shown below. This window is referred to as the Python Console and the consist of three symbols >>> and a blinking cursor. 

The Python Console can also be referred to as the Python Interactive Shell or the REPL standing for Read Evaluate Print Loop. It is an interactive window that one can type in commands and it shows an output. An example of the interactivity is demonstrated in the shell below. Once your Python shell is open, then type the following line of code.

print('Hello world')

And it shall print out Hello world text as shown below.

We have been able to install and run Python in this tutorial. For more detailed documentation on Python visit the Python Documentation.

 

HAPPY CODING

Deploying QGIS Server in Windows 10

Installing QGIS Server in Windows 10

This tutorial or walkthrough is curated for those people who might want to install QGIS Server in their machines containing Windows 10 operating system or those that might be encountering challenges in installing the same. It consist of a step-by-step procedure with explanations that the usual setups and installation wizards might have or the information provided is little to make one understand.

QGIS Server is a an open source Geographic Information Systems (GIS) server that leverages on the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC)’s services which include:

  1. Web Map Service (WMS)
  2. Web Feature Service (WFS)
  3. Web Coverage Service (WCS)

The above services have been well described in a previous post here. QGIS Server can be deployed in both Windows 10 and the steps below show how one can deploy/install the robust GIS server. A standard QGIS Server does not have specifications per-se and for such one can make reference to GIS StackExchange

Navigate to QGIS Installers web page at Download QGIS page using your browser. The web page looks as shown below.

Click on the OsGeo4w Network Installer (64-bit) for 64-bit computers and OsGeo4w Network Installer (32-bit) for 32-bit computers and this starts a download step.

Similarly, navigate using your browser to XAMPP Download Page that appears as below.

Click on the Download button. Note that there are only 64-bit downloads in the page above and this will also start a download process in the browser. Once the downloads are complete, the files appear in the file systam as shown below.

In this procedure, we will start with installing QGIS Server using the network installer. Double click the osgeo4w setup or right mouse click and select open option. This makes the installer wizard to appear as shown below.

Ensure the Advanced Install radio button is the selected one as above. This option grants the liberty to install individual Desktop and Server packages unlike the other two and in this case we only want to install the QGIS Server. Click Next button to proceed to the next wizard page shown below.

  

The option Install from Internet is for initial download (first run) which instructs the setup to download files from the internet into the computer and this is the step that we shall use. The option Download Without Installing just download files from the internet and does not install. The third option, Install from Local Directory is used when one has downloaded the files into a folder in local computer. (One needs to know there the files have been downloaded) Click Next  to proceed.

The Root Directory above is the ‘installation folder’ that hosts the installed/extracted files and by default the path is as shown in the white text input above as C:\OSGeo4W64 . One can change by clicking the Browse… button though we will leave it as is. For the users section, All Users ensures that all users in the computer can access the OSGeo4w software while for the Just Me option only the current user (one who is installing and must have administrative rights) has access to those files. Click Next to proceed.

The Local Package Directory is the folder in which the contents of QGIS Server and other supporting files (not installed files) downloaded from the internet will be saved and the Start menu name is the name that will appear in Windows Startup Programs as shortcut. Just lke the previous one can click on the Browse… button to select a custom location. When Browse… button is clicked, the following Windows Browse window appears as shown below.

Once you select the preferred folder, click OK button to close. Below page shows a custom location that has been selected.

Once the custom location is selected, click Next to proceed.

In the above page, the way with which the setup connects to the internet must be configured. By default the Direct Connection option is selected. Use IE5 Settings uses Internet Explorer 5 connectionconfiguration while the Use HTTP/FTP Proxy option is used where the network is behind a proxy. In this the default option is left as is. Click Next to proceed.

There are various download site URLs that are listed above and the setup downloads from the user selected option. Select one of the links to activate the Next button or one can also add a custom URL in the User URL text field and click Add button. When the existing URL is clicked it appears as shown below.

 

Once the URL has been selected or a custom URL has been input, the Next button is activated and can be clicked to continue.

There are many packages that can be downloaded and installed by the osgeo4W installer and they are listed in the above page. Since the installation is for QGIS Server, click the + sign next wo Web option and it collapses with 5 more options. Click on the Skip option for qgis-server and a version number will appear just as shown above. The rest of the options can be left as is. Click Next button to continue.

The page shown above displays a list of the packages and libraries that will be installed. Click Next button to proceed.

This page initializes a download of the packages from the URL that was selected earlier. Some libraries are shipped with End User License Agreements (EULA) that one must accept to continue as some also have licenses for free, non-commercial usage and et cetera. After accepting these licenses and agreements, click Next to continue.

A page with active progress bars (in green above) appears and the percentage download progress is also displayed at the title bar above. The first progress bar shows the download progress for the individual package being downloaded, the second shows the overall/total download progress of the packages and the third progress bar shown the computer disk size. This process should not be interrupted and it is dependent on internet speed/network latency once complete i.e. at 100% then the following final page is shown. If there are errors in download, then the download failure will be shown in a rather similar fashion. Click Finish button to close the installer wizard. 

 

Next procedure entails installation of XAMPP. XAMPP is a free and open source web application server that is cross-platform and has been developed by Apache Foundation. It consists of Apache Web Server, MariaDB database and Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) and Perl interpreters among othets. Let’s begin by double clicking the xampp setup that was downloaded in the beginning steps.

The setup wizard appears as shown above. Click Next button to proceed.

Above are the packages that are shipped with the XAMPP setup. For the purposes of QGIS Server, only the Server > Apache is required therefore the rest can be unchecked to match the case above. A breakdown of the main components required for the QGIS Server installation include:

  1. Apache Server – The role of  this server in QGIS Server is to provide Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) in which the OGC services mentioned in the beginning of this post are dependent on. QGIS Server uses FastCGI protocol that is an Apache module therefore the importance of the server is realized in this.
  2. PHP – This comes tightly coupled with the web server therefore cannot be unchecked (at least for version 8.0.3)

Click Next button to continue.

The page shown the default path/folder in which the selected components of XAMPP will be installed in. By default it installs in the Windows’ system/OS drive i.e. C:\Xampp and to change this click on the icon on the right side of the path field and it opens the file system for one to select their preferred installation location. Once the preferred location is clicked, click Next button to continue.

Select the preferred language and click Next to proceed.

On this page, some info on the developers of the installer, if not interested in the info, uncheck the checkbox as above and by click Next button to continue.

Click Next button to begin installation of the components.

A progress wizard similar to those in osgeo4W installer appears in the middle of the page below the XAMPP welcome image. The installation should not take a lot of time but also depended on hardware specifications. Once the installation is complete, Next button is activated and can be clicked to proceed.

This informs that the installation has completed successfully. Ensure the checkbox in the page is checks so that it can open the XAMPP control panel. Click Next button to proceed.

The control panel assists in enabling and disabling the services listed. In the case above, only Apache has been installed therefore, it is the only active row while the rest are inactive (greyed out). Click on the Start button in the first row for Apache.

The control panel shown above indicates that Apache Server module is running and is assigned the Process Identification (PID) 7036, 150028 and running on port(s) 80, 443. Click on the Admin button.

A browser page is opened with the URL pointing to the localhost and it confirms that apache in deed is running. 

Once both XAMPP and QGIS Server are installed, we have to configure some settings in the default apache configuration file. By default, the apache configuration file (for XAMPP 3.0.8) is located in C:/xampp/apache/conf/httpd.conf

The file shown above can be opened with a text editor like notepad or any other editor that is installed and contains settings/configurations for the apache server and one has to be careful not to remove or insert wrong information in the file as it may affect the working of apache server.

The apache configuration file appears as shown above in Notepad++ text editor.

Let’s confirm hat the file qgis_mapserv.fcgi exists in the bin folder of the qgis app in folder shown above. If it exists then we

Edit the line shown above for the Script Alias (highlighted in grey) to point to the bin directory shown in the previous diagram. Note that the original line has been commented by adding a # before it.

Similarly add a directory directive as shown above (in grey) to point to the same bin folder as the previous and inside it a number of statements that allows apache server permissions to access the folder and also execute the relevant scripts. 

Add an .exe handler in order to enable server to execute the QGIS Server executable files.

Finally, add the following lines as shown above and ensure that the paths in the lines shown above actually exist otherwise there might be errors when attempting to run QGIS Server.

After the above procedures, open XAMPP from the Windows start menu if not running and it will display the control panel and ensure that apache server is already running. Navigate using your browser to http://localhost/cgi-bin/qgis_mapserv.fcgi.exe?SERVICE=WMS&VERSION=1.3.0&REQUEST=GetCapabilities which opens a an XML (eXtensible Markup Language) page showing the WMS capabilities of the server.