Test The Latest Ubuntu Builds Using TestDrive

When I want to try out the latest build of Ubuntu for changes, I usually have to download the 700 MB image file and install it in a virtual machine. However, with the Lucid development going ahead in full flow, it can sometimes be troublesome to  repeatedly  download the 700 MB image and install it. However, Dustin Kirkland, a developer from the Ubuntu Server team, has come up with a very handy tool called TestDrive to solve this problem.

TestDrive automates the process of downloading the image and installing it in a virtual machine. Another great feature of TestDrive is that it does not download the full 700 MB image file once you have downloaded it. It uses rsync in the subsequent downloads to get only the parts that have changed. This drastically reduces the download size which means faster download and more bandwidth saved.

Installing TestDrive

Before you start using using TestDrive, you need to have either VirtualBox or KVM installed. If you do not have them this is what you need to do to install them:

  • Open Terminal (or Konsole if you are using KDE SC).
  • To install VirtualBox, execute the command:

sudo apt-get install virtualbox-ose virtualbox-ose-guest-source virtualbox-ose-guest-utils dkms

  • In case you want KVM not VirtualBox, execute:

sudo apt-get install kvm

After you have either VirtualBox or KVM installed, you can now get to installing TestDrive.

If you already are running Ubuntu Lucid, you can install it using the command given below:

sudo apt-get install testdrive

If you are in Ubuntu Karmic or lower versions (upto Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron), you will need to add a PPA as TestDrive is not in the official repository.

To add the PPA in Karmic, execute the command given below in the Terminal (or Konsole):

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:testdrive/ppa

To add the PPA in Jaunty, Intrepid and Hardy, follow the steps below:

  • Open the source.list file with the command (replace gedit with kate if you are using KDE SC):

sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

  • Add the following two lines in source.list (replace <version> with jaunty for Ubuntu 9.04, intrepid for Ubuntu 8.10 and hardy for Ubuntu 8.04) and save and close.

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/testdrive/ppa/ubuntu <VERSION> main
deb-src http://ppa.launchpad.net/testdrive/ppa/ubuntu <VERSION> main

  • Add the PPA’s signing key with the command:

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys 4D1BAE55

After adding the PPAs install TestDrive (in both Karmic and other versions) using the commands:

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install testdrive

After installation, you will find TestDrive under Applications -> System Tools -> Testdrive in GNOME and Applications -> System ->Test Drive an Ubuntu ISO in KDE SC. After running you can enter the what you want to try out – Ubuntu Server, Ubuntu Desktop etc. You can also enter a custom URL if you desire.


Published by

Ricky Laishram

Ricky Laishram is a Linux and FOSS enthusiast. He is passionate about open source technologies and likes to keep abreast with the latest developments in KDE and Ubuntu. He also loves listening to music and is a huge Tegan snd Sara fan. You can follow him on twitter @ricky_lais.

  • Indian Art

    Thoughtful touch.

    Works for people who have a Download / Upload limit from their ISP.

    This version is turning out to be fun and looks fantastic!

  • Indian Art

    Thoughtful touch.

    Works for people who have a Download / Upload limit from their ISP.

    This version is turning out to be lots of fun and looks fantastic!

    • Yea this has been really useful for me as well with the download limits i get in the college hostel. :)