As I think I've mentioned before, workshop participants are going to be getting a USB flash drive. The drive will hold a virtual machine configured with the latest and greatest beta of XNAT 1.6 configured with sample projects and data. These projects and data reflect the scenario we're using to provide a context for the various workshop sessions (more information on the planned sessions coming soon!).

Since so much of the workshop will revolve around working with this virtual machine, we wanted to provide you with information to help get your system configured before arriving. The more of this set-up you complete before you arrive, the more you get to take advantage of at the workshop itself!

The first thing you'll need to be concerned with is your laptop. We strongly encourage all attendees to bring their own laptop. When it comes to running virtual machines, the more powerful the laptop the better! If you can't bring your own laptop, then you may be able to share with another attendee. Alternatively, we'll be offering laptop rentals from the Washington University School of Medicine IT department. The rental fee is $50 per day. We'll have specifications for these laptops available shortly; I'll add them in an update when they're made available to us. If you want to rent a laptop, please contact us soon to reserve one.

After much back-and-forth'ing (does that really qualify as a verb?), we've decided to provide the XNAT Workshop virtual machine without snapshots. This is due to limitations in VMWare Player and the snapshots making the virtual machine incompatible with VirtualBox. The next section of this post has been updated to reflect the availability of VirtualBox as an alternative for the virtualization platform.

The next issue is the virtualization platform for the virtual machine. The following products are commonly available:

  • For Windows, VMWare offers the free VMWare Player
  • If you have a license or want to use a trial version, the more full-featured Windows product from VMWare is VMWare Workstation
  • For OS X, VMWare has a trial (non-free) version of VMWare Fusion; note that this has some fairly specific system requirements, including Intel-based 64-bit OS X 10.6.7 or later (including Lion)
  • For Windows, Linux, and OS X, you can use the free VirtualBox product

All of the VMWare products, including the free and trial versions, require you to create an account with VMWare to download the installers. If you want to use one of the VMWare products, you should register and install before coming to the workshop!

We are providing the virtual machine in the VMX format for VMWare products. That means that, if you choose to use a VMWare product, you'll automatically get the default hardware settings and be able to open the VM directly. If you use VirtualBox, you'll need to create a new machine instance and use the virtual disk (vmdk file) from the XNAT Workshop virtual machine.

We plan on making the virtual machine itself available on the NRG FTP site ahead of time. Stay tuned for the URL for this if you'd like to get the VM installed before arriving as well (find out how to subscribe to this wiki space).

It's worth noting that we're planning on using the Monday lunch period to complete VM installation and configuration and resolve any issues that might arise, so we won't be mean to you if you don't have all of this done beforehand. We're just trying to help everyone get as prepared as possible to free up our time for the more meaningful XNAT-specific work we hope to do!


  1. I have Ubuntu – the Lubuntu flavor, to be precise – installed on my laptop.  I unsuccessfully tried to install VMware Player 4 on Ubuntu 12.04.  The docs suggest that VMware Player has not yet been updated to run on 12.04 as the host operating system.  I was able to install VMware Player 4 on Ubuntu 11.10.  However, I was unable to run the XNAT 1.5.4 virtual machine image on this install.  

    Since you did not mention Linux, are you going to support Linux?  Are you going to provide instructions for installing the XNAT 1.6 virtual machine on VMware Player on Linux?


    Bill Schneider


    1. Rick Herrick AUTHOR

      Hey Bill,

      I mentioned this morning that we were sure to get some questions about hosting on Linux and, sure enough, first question (smile)

      It's really less a matter of us supporting Linux and more a matter of what VMWare supports. 12.04 is so recent that I'm not surprised that VMWare doesn't have a production release for it yet. One thing you might try is the VMWare Workstation Technology Preview release. A number of posts on the VMWare and Ubuntu support forums mentioned having success with this on Ubuntu 12.04 64-bit platforms. The evaluation license for that extends through October 15, so that will get you through the workshop period comfortably.

  2. Hi Bill,

      If the XNAT folks build the VMDK for the workshop as the one on the downloads page of then we Linux users should be fine.  Supposedly VMPlayer is available for Linux.  I've bypassed that and just use VirtualBox.  I can help you get set up if needed.


    1. Rick Herrick AUTHOR


      Part of the issue with using VirtualBox is that all you can do is import the VMDK to create a new virtual machine. This loses the system configuration settings, which in and of itself may not be such a big deal, but it also loses the VM snapshots we're going to have as part of the VM. These snapshots will have the VM configuration in various states as we progress through the workshop presentations.

      1. Rick Herrick AUTHOR

        Hey Ben,

        Note the recent changes to the page. Because of a couple different issues, we've done away with VM snapshots. VirtualBox will be just fine for the workshop.

  3. Hi Rick,

    When will the XNAT 1.6 virtual machine be available?  I would like to try it out on my laptop before I leave for the workshop on Sunday afternoon.  I would prefer to spend Monday afternoon learning lots of new things about XNAT instead of trying to fix the virtualization platform.  The XNAT 1.6 virtual machine provided does not have to be the final version.

    (I hate to be a nag (smile), but I have been at Python tutorials where too much time was spent at the beginning installing Python and other software.  And Python is a much simpler beast than virtualization software.)


    1. Rick Herrick AUTHOR

      Regarding virtualization software itself, as noted in the original post, you'll definitely want one of the VMWare platforms installed as soon as possible. Regarding the virtual machine that we're supplying, we should have that available on the FTP site sometime later today or tomorrow. We'll definitely post to the blog here and onto xnat_discussion so just keep your eye peeled for that!