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VirtualBox is a free open-source virtualization platform from Oracle (formerly Sun).


The online manual can be found here.


USB support on Linux

Download the Extension Pack at

Install it into the VirtualBox application below File => Preferences => Extensions

Ubuntu Installation

aptitude install virtualbox virtualbox-guest-additions-iso

This will get you an slightly older version i.e. 4.1.12. There also appears to be a virtualbox-nonfree package which I have not tried.

To allow regular users to use VirtualBox on Linux i.e. Ubuntu, add the username to the vboxusers group in /etc/group

adduser username vboxusers

Installing the virtualbox-guest-additions-iso package allows you install the guest additions in each guest from the Devices->Install Guest Additions

After upgrading to Ubuntu Trusty, I found I could no longer connect to RDP. Remmina fails to connect. rdesktop returns connection closed.

mdf@mfoster-wkstn:~$ rdesktop
Autoselected keyboard map en-us
ERROR: Connection closed

After poking around, I found I need to install the extpack, but it would not install from the GUI, instead returning the error

The installer failed with exit code 127: Error creating textual authentication agent: Error opening current controlling 
terminal for the process (`/dev/tty'): No such device or address

Checking permissions of /dev/tty there is not a problem there.

mdf@mfoster-wkstn:~$  ls -al /dev/tty
crw-rw-rw- 1 root tty 5, 0 Jul 20 14:04 /dev/tty

I attempt to install by hand, it gives same error!

mdf@mfoster-wkstn:~$ VBoxManage extpack install Downloads/Oracle_VM_VirtualBox_Extension_Pack-4.3.10-93012.vbox-extpack 
Progress state: NS_ERROR_FAILURE
VBoxManage: error: Failed to install "/home/mdf/Downloads/Oracle_VM_VirtualBox_Extension_Pack-4.3.10-93012.vbox-extpack"
VBoxManage: error: The installer failed with exit code 127: Error creating textual authentication agent: Error opening current
controlling terminal for the process (`/dev/tty'): No such device or address
VBoxManage: error: Details: code NS_ERROR_FAILURE (0x80004005), component ExtPackManager, interface IExtPackManager
VBoxManage: error: Context: "int handleExtPack(HandlerArg*)" at line 1143 of file VBoxManageMisc.cpp

Try again, but use sudo, it does the magic

mdf@mfoster-wkstn:~$ sudo VBoxManage extpack install Downloads/Oracle_VM_VirtualBox_Extension_Pack-4.3.10-93012.vbox-extpack 
Successfully installed "Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack".

Afterwards, I remove the VNC extension and RDP works now using rdesktop, but not remmina.

Command line

The two interesting command line utilities are: VBoxManage and VBoxHeadless

List VMs

VBoxManage list vms

Add -l (long) for a very detailed listing of each VMs attributes.

Info about a VM

The showvminfo command provides quite a bit of detail about a VM.

$ VBoxManage showvminfo mdftestb1
Name:            mdftestb1
Groups:          /
Guest OS:        Ubuntu (64 bit)
UUID:            ff4c6d82-9de7-4ac8-b281-ce6df265756c
Config file:     /home/mdf/VirtualBox VMs/mdftestb1/mdftestb1.vbox
Snapshot folder: /home/mdf/VirtualBox VMs/mdftestb1/Snapshots
Log folder:      /home/mdf/VirtualBox VMs/mdftestb1/Logs
Hardware UUID:   ff4c6d82-9de7-4ac8-b281-ce6df265756c
Memory size:     512MB
Page Fusion:     off
VRAM size:       12MB
CPU exec cap:    100%
HPET:            off
Chipset:         piix3
Firmware:        BIOS
Number of CPUs:  1
PAE:             off
Long Mode:       on
Synthetic CPU:   off
CPUID overrides: None
Boot menu mode:  message and menu
Boot Device (1): HardDisk
Boot Device (2): Network
Boot Device (3): Not Assigned
Boot Device (4): Not Assigned
ACPI:            on
IOAPIC:          on
Time offset:     0ms
RTC:             UTC
Hardw. virt.ext: on
Nested Paging:   on
Large Pages:     off
VT-x VPID:       on
VT-x unr. exec.: on
State:           aborted (since 2015-04-20T15:07:59.772000000)
Monitor count:   1
3D Acceleration: off
2D Video Acceleration: off
Teleporter Enabled: off
Teleporter Port: 0
Teleporter Address: 
Teleporter Password: 
Tracing Enabled: off
Allow Tracing to Access VM: off
Tracing Configuration: 
Autostart Enabled: off
Autostart Delay: 0
Default Frontend: 
Storage Controller Name (0):            IDE
Storage Controller Type (0):            PIIX4
Storage Controller Instance Number (0): 0
Storage Controller Max Port Count (0):  2
Storage Controller Port Count (0):      2
Storage Controller Bootable (0):        on
Storage Controller Name (1):            SATA
Storage Controller Type (1):            IntelAhci
Storage Controller Instance Number (1): 0
Storage Controller Max Port Count (1):  30
Storage Controller Port Count (1):      1
Storage Controller Bootable (1):        on
IDE (1, 0): Empty
SATA (0, 0): /home/mdf/VirtualBox VMs/mdftestb1/Snapshots/{cdffd51d-e6b4-44de-b639-cd3cc9472281}.vdi (UUID: cdffd51d-e6b4-44de-b639-cd3cc9472281)
NIC 1:           MAC: 0800275FC13F, Attachment: Bridged Interface 'p2p1', Cable connected: on, Trace: off (file: none), Type: 82540EM, Reported speed: 0 Mbps, Boot priority: 0, Promisc Policy: deny, Bandwidth group: none
NIC 2:           disabled
NIC 3:           disabled
NIC 4:           disabled
NIC 5:           disabled
NIC 6:           disabled
NIC 7:           disabled
NIC 8:           disabled
Pointing Device: USB Tablet
Keyboard Device: PS/2 Keyboard
UART 1:          disabled
UART 2:          disabled
LPT 1:           disabled
LPT 2:           disabled
Audio:           enabled (Driver: PulseAudio, Controller: AC97)
Clipboard Mode:  disabled
Drag'n'drop Mode: disabled
VRDE:            disabled
USB:             enabled
EHCI:            disabled

USB Device Filters:


Available remote USB devices:


Currently Attached USB Devices:


Bandwidth groups:  <none>

Shared folders:  <none>

VRDE Connection:    not active
Clients so far:     0

View/Manage Hard Drive(s)

$ VBoxManage showhdinfo "/home/mdf/VirtualBox VMs/win7b/win7b.vdi" 
UUID:                 0226f256-633e-42e3-8aaa-34f1ed91f1ee
Accessible:           yes
Logical size:         25600 MBytes
Current size on disk: 12756 MBytes
Type:                 normal (base)
Storage format:       VDI
Format variant:       dynamic default
In use by VMs:        win7b (UUID: 28100c19-5c45-4870-bc6a-ff2ef0448dc5)
Location:             /home/mdf/VirtualBox VMs/win7b/win7b.vdi
VBoxManage modifyhd YOUR_HARD_DISK.vdi --resize SIZE_IN_MB

Note that you'll need to resize the partition after growing the disk. I used gparted which can not only resize the (NTFS) partition but grow the filesystem in one step!

Start a VM

VBoxHeadless -s vmname &

It's usually best to run the command above in a screen session.

At the very least, background it and consider prepending nohup...


VBoxManage export "name of machine" -o export-vmname.ova

Tags: vbox