Posted by: reformedmusings | December 10, 2008

Setting up Sun VirtualBox 2.0.6 under Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid

I’ve been happily using VMWare’s VMWorkstation to test software setups in virtual machines for about a year. With my new Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid test setup, I decided to try Sun’s VirtualBox virtualization system. I chose Sun’s distribution over the OSE version primarily because of its improved USB support. Both are free, but Sun’s version sports some proprietary code to improve USB and network performance.

The best way to install VirtualBox and keep it updated is to add its repository to the source list. On the Ubuntu menus, open System -> Administration -> Software Sources:


Click on Add… and paste the following line into the dialog and click Add Source:

deb intrepid non-free

Close Software Sources, this time without letting it update the package list. Open Applications -> Terminal, then cut and paste the following lines individually into to the terminal:

wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add –
sudo aptitude update

Leave the terminal open for now.

Open up System -> Administration -> Synatic Package Manager and type “virtualbox” in the Quick search box:


Click the box next to virtualbox-2.0, select “Install package” from the popup, and you’ll see the following list of support packages required:

vbox-install-libsAdditional support packages are often required by programs. You should always review them to prevent surprises. Click on Mark, then click on Apply on the Synaptic toolbar. During the install, a handy dialog box will appear reminding you to add yourself to the “vboxusers” group:


Click Forward to continue the install. Meanwhile, you can access the user group assignments from System -> Administration -> Users and Groups:


Click on Unlock and type in your root password. Then highlight your user name and click on Properties, then the User Privileges tab:

vbox-account-privilegesClick the box next to Use VirtualBox and then OK. Do the same for all users who will share VirtualBox. Meanwhile, the installation will progress to compiling the VirtualBox drivers for your running kernel:


Simply click on Forward through the wizard and the installation will take care of the details. When it’s done, you’re almost done.

USB support requires a quick patch to a system file (many thanks to Sam Lesher for this patch). Go back to your terminal and type:

gksudo gedit /etc/fstab

This will open the file fstab in the Gnome editor. Create a new line after the last line of the file, then paste in the following line:

none /proc/bus/usb usbfs devgid=46,devmode=664 0 0

Click Save, then close the editor. Restart the system and you’re ready to rock!

VirtualBox will be a menu item under Applications -> System Tools. The first time that you execute VirtualBox, you will have to accept their user agreement. It will also bug you every time that you start the program until you register:


It’s free, and Sun provides a checkbox to opt out of further contact. After these preliminaries, VirtualBox itself will appear:


The next post will feature the creation of an example PCLinuxOS virtual machine in VirtualBox.

Update 12/11/2008: It is important to install VirtualBox Guest Additions in your virtual machines. I post directions here.



  1. Thats good. Very good information there.

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  8. Thanks for saving me hours of hair-pulling… I just re-installed Intrepid and was setting up VBox and couldn’t remember how to get the USB working in my WinXP machine. Long live Linux and Open Source programs!

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