Chapter 2. Installation details

Table of Contents

Installing on Windows hosts
Performing the installation
Unattended installation
Installing on Mac OS X hosts
Performing the installation
Unattended installation
Installing on Linux hosts
The VirtualBox kernel module
Performing the installation
The vboxusers group
Starting VirtualBox on Linux
Installing on Solaris hosts
Performing the installation
The vboxuser group
Starting VirtualBox on Solaris
Unattended installation
Configuring a zone for running VirtualBox

As installation of VirtualBox varies depending on your host operating system, we provide installation instructions in four separate chapters for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and Solaris, respectively.

Installing on Windows hosts


For the various versions of Windows that we support as host operating systems, please refer to the section called “Supported host operating systems”.

In addition, Windows Installer 1.1 or higher must be present on your system. This should be the case if you have all recent Windows updates installed.

Performing the installation

The VirtualBox installation can be started

  • either by double-clicking on its executable file (contains both 32- and 64-bit architectures)

  • or by entering

    VirtualBox.exe -extract

    on the command line. This will extract both installers into a temporary directory in which you'll then find the usual .MSI files. Then you can do a

    msiexec /i VirtualBox-<version>-MultiArch_<x86|amd64>.msi

    to perform the installation.

In either case, this will display the installation welcome dialog and allow you to choose where to install VirtualBox to and which components to install. In addition to the VirtualBox application, the following components are available:

USB support

This package contains special drivers for your Windows host that VirtualBox requires to fully support USB devices inside your virtual machines.


This package contains extra networking drivers for your Windows host that VirtualBox needs to support Bridged Networking (to make your VM's virtual network cards accessible from other machines on your physical network).

Python Support

This package contains Python scripting support for the VirtualBox API (see Chapter 11, VirtualBox programming interfaces). For this to work, an already working Windows Python installation on the system is required.[8]

Depending on your Windows configuration, you may see warnings about "unsigned drivers" or similar. Please select "Continue" on these warnings as otherwise VirtualBox might not function correctly after installation.

The installer will create a "VirtualBox" group in the Windows "Start" menu which allows you to launch the application and access its documentation.

With standard settings, VirtualBox will be installed for all users on the local system. In case this is not wanted, you have to invoke the installer by first extracting it by using

VirtualBox.exe -extract

and then do as follows:

VirtualBox.exe -msiparams ALLUSERS=2


msiexec /i VirtualBox-<version>-MultiArch_<x86|amd64>.msi ALLUSERS=2

on the extracted .MSI files. This will install VirtualBox only for the current user.

If you do not want to install all features of VirtualBox, you can set the optional ADDLOCAL parameter to explicitly name the features to be installed. The following features are available:


Main binaries of VirtualBox.


This feature must not be absent since it contains the minimum set of files to have working VirtualBox installation.


USB support.


All networking support; includes the VBoxNetworkFlt and VBoxNetworkAdp features (see below).


Bridged networking support.


Host-only networking support.


Python support.

For example, to only install USB support along with the main binaries, do a:

VirtualBox.exe -msiparams ADDLOCAL=VBoxApplication,VBoxUSB


msiexec /i VirtualBox-<version>-MultiArch_<x86|amd64>.msi ADDLOCAL=VBoxApplication,VBoxUSB


As VirtualBox uses the standard Microsoft Windows installer, VirtualBox can be safely uninstalled at any time by choosing the program entry in the "Add/Remove Programs" applet in the Windows Control Panel.

Unattended installation

Unattended installations can be performed using the standard MSI support.

Installing on Mac OS X hosts

Performing the installation

For Mac OS X hosts, VirtualBox ships in a disk image (dmg) file. Perform the following steps:

  1. Double-click on that file to have its contents mounted.

  2. A window will open telling you to double click on the VirtualBox.mpkg installer file displayed in that window.

  3. This will start the installer, which will allow you to select where to install VirtualBox to.

After installation, you can find a VirtualBox icon in the "Applications" folder in the Finder.


To uninstall VirtualBox, open the disk image (dmg) file again and double-click on the uninstall icon contained therein.

Unattended installation

To perform a non-interactive installation of VirtualBox you can use the command line version of the installer application.

Mount the disk image (dmg) file as described in the normal installation. Then open a terminal session and execute:

sudo installer -pkg /Volumes/VirtualBox/VirtualBox.mpkg \
      -target /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD

Installing on Linux hosts


For the various versions of Linux that we support as host operating systems, please refer to the section called “Supported host operating systems”.

You will need to install the following packages on your Linux system before starting the installation (some systems will do this for you automatically when you install VirtualBox):

  • Qt 4.4.0 or higher;

  • SDL 1.2.7 or higher (this graphics library is typically called libsdl or similar).


To be precise, these packages are only required if you want to run the VirtualBox graphical user interfaces. In particular, VirtualBox, the graphical VirtualBox manager, requires both Qt and SDL; VBoxSDL, our simplified GUI, requires only SDL. By contrast, if you only want to run VBoxHeadless, neither Qt nor SDL are required.

The VirtualBox kernel module

VirtualBox uses a special kernel module called vboxdrv to perform physical memory allocation and to gain control of the processor for guest system execution. Without this kernel module, you can still use the VirtualBox manager to configure virtual machines, but they will not start. In addition, there are the network kernel modules vboxnetflt and vboxnetadp which are required for the more advanced networking features of VirtualBox.

The VirtualBox kernel module is automatically installed on your system when you install VirtualBox. To maintain it with future kernel updates, for those Linux distributions which provide it -- most current ones -- we recommend installing Dynamic Kernel Module Support (DKMS)[9]. This framework helps with building and upgrading kernel modules.

If DKMS is not already installed, execute one of the following:

  • On an Ubuntu system:

    sudo apt-get install dkms
  • On a Fedora system:

    yum install dkms
  • On a Mandriva or Mageia system:

    urpmi dkms

If DKMS is available and installed, the VirtualBox kernel module should always work automatically, and it will be automatically rebuilt if your host kernel is updated.

Otherwise, there are only two situations in which you will need to worry about the kernel module:

  1. The original installation fails. This probably means that your Linux system is not prepared for building external kernel modules.

    Most Linux distributions can be set up simply by installing the right packages - normally, these will be the GNU compiler (GCC), GNU Make (make) and packages containing header files for your kernel - and making sure that all system updates are installed and that the system is running the most up-to-date kernel included in the distribution. The version numbers of the header file packages must be the same as that of the kernel you are using.

    • With Debian and Ubuntu releases, you must install the right version of the linux-headers and if it exists the linux-kbuild package. Current Ubuntu releases should have the right packages installed by default.

    • In even older Debian and Ubuntu releases, you must install the right version of the kernel-headers package.

    • On Fedora and Redhat systems, the package is kernel-devel.

    • On SUSE and openSUSE Linux, you must install the right versions of the kernel-source and kernel-syms packages.

    • If you have built your own kernel, you will need to make sure that you also installed all the required header and other files for building external modules to the right locations. The details of how to do this will depend on how you built your kernel, and if you are unsure you should consult the documentation which you followed to do so.

  2. The kernel of your Linux host was updated and DKMS is not installed. In that case, the kernel module will need to be reinstalled by executing (as root):

    /etc/init.d/vboxdrv setup

Performing the installation

VirtualBox is available in a number of package formats native to various common Linux distributions (see the section called “Supported host operating systems” for details). In addition, there is an alternative generic installer (.run) which should work on most Linux distributions.

Installing VirtualBox from a Debian/Ubuntu package

First, download the appropriate package for your distribution. The following examples assume that you are installing to a 32-bit Ubuntu Karmic system. Use dpkg to install the Debian package:

sudo dpkg -i VirtualBox-3.2_4.2.12_Ubuntu_karmic_i386.deb

You will be asked to accept the VirtualBox Personal Use and Evaluation License. Unless you answer "yes" here, the installation will be aborted.

The installer will also search for a VirtualBox kernel module suitable for your kernel. The package includes pre-compiled modules for the most common kernel configurations. If no suitable kernel module is found, the installation script tries to build a module itself. If the build process is not successful you will be shown a warning and the package will be left unconfigured. Please have a look at /var/log/vbox-install.log to find out why the compilation failed. You may have to install the appropriate Linux kernel headers (see the section called “The VirtualBox kernel module”). After correcting any problems, do

sudo /etc/init.d/vboxdrv setup

This will start a second attempt to build the module.

If a suitable kernel module was found in the package or the module was successfully built, the installation script will attempt to load that module. If this fails, please see the section called “Linux kernel module refuses to load” for further information.

Once VirtualBox has been successfully installed and configured, you can start it by selecting "VirtualBox" in your start menu or from the command line (see the section called “Starting VirtualBox on Linux”).

Using the alternative installer (

The alternative installer performs the following steps:

  • It unpacks the application files to the target directory,


    which cannot be changed.

  • It builds the VirtualBox kernel modules (vboxdrv, vboxnetflt and vboxnetadp) and installs them.

  • It creates /etc/init.d/vboxdrv, an init script to start the VirtualBox kernel module.

  • It creates a new system group called vboxusers.

  • It creates symbolic links in /usr/bin to the a shell script (/opt/VirtualBox/VBox) which does some sanity checks and dispatches to the actual executables, VirtualBox, VBoxSDL, VBoxVRDP, VBoxHeadless and VBoxManage

  • It creates /etc/udev/rules.d/10-vboxdrv.rules, a description file for udev, if that is present, which makes the USB devices accessible to all users in the vboxusers group.

  • It writes the installation directory to /etc/vbox/vbox.cfg.

The installer must be executed as root with either install or uninstall as the first parameter.

sudo ./ install

Or if you do not have the "sudo" command available, run the following as root instead:

./ install

After that you need to put every user which should be able to access USB devices from VirtualBox guests in the group vboxusers, either through the GUI user management tools or by running the following command as root:

sudo usermod -a -G vboxusers username


The usermod command of some older Linux distributions does not support the -a option (which adds the user to the given group without affecting membership of other groups). In this case, find out the current group memberships with the groups command and add all these groups in a comma-separated list to the command line after the -G option, e.g. like this: usermod -G group1,group2,vboxusers username.

Performing a manual installation

If, for any reason, you cannot use the shell script installer described previously, you can also perform a manual installation. Invoke the installer like this:

./ --keep --noexec

This will unpack all the files needed for installation in the directory install under the current directory. The VirtualBox application files are contained in VirtualBox.tar.bz2 which you can unpack to any directory on your system. For example:

sudo mkdir /opt/VirtualBox
sudo tar jxf ./install/VirtualBox.tar.bz2 -C /opt/VirtualBox

or as root:

mkdir /opt/VirtualBox
tar jxf ./install/VirtualBox.tar.bz2 -C /opt/VirtualBox

The sources for VirtualBox's kernel module are provided in the src directory. To build the module, change to the directory and issue


If everything builds correctly, issue the following command to install the module to the appropriate module directory:

sudo make install

In case you do not have sudo, switch the user account to root and perform

make install

The VirtualBox kernel module needs a device node to operate. The above make command will tell you how to create the device node, depending on your Linux system. The procedure is slightly different for a classical Linux setup with a /dev directory, a system with the now deprecated devfs and a modern Linux system with udev.

On certain Linux distributions, you might experience difficulties building the module. You will have to analyze the error messages from the build system to diagnose the cause of the problems. In general, make sure that the correct Linux kernel sources are used for the build process.

Note that the /dev/vboxdrv kernel module device node must be owned by root:root and must be read/writable only for the user.

Next, you will have to install the system initialization script for the kernel module:

cp /opt/VirtualBox/ /etc/init.d/vboxdrv

(assuming you installed VirtualBox to the /opt/VirtualBox directory) and activate the initialization script using the right method for your distribution. You should create VirtualBox's configuration file:

mkdir /etc/vbox
echo INSTALL_DIR=/opt/VirtualBox > /etc/vbox/vbox.cfg

and, for convenience, create the following symbolic links:

ln -sf /opt/VirtualBox/ /usr/bin/VirtualBox
ln -sf /opt/VirtualBox/ /usr/bin/VBoxManage
ln -sf /opt/VirtualBox/ /usr/bin/VBoxHeadless
ln -sf /opt/VirtualBox/ /usr/bin/VBoxSDL

Updating and uninstalling VirtualBox

Before updating or uninstalling VirtualBox, you must terminate any virtual machines which are currently running and exit the VirtualBox or VBoxSVC applications. To update VirtualBox, simply run the installer of the updated version. To uninstall VirtualBox, invoke the installer like this:

sudo ./ uninstall

or as root

./ uninstall

. Starting with version 2.2.2, you can uninstall the .run package by invoking


To manually uninstall VirtualBox, simply undo the steps in the manual installation in reverse order.

Automatic installation of Debian packages

The Debian packages will request some user feedback when installed for the first time. The debconf system is used to perform this task. To prevent any user interaction during installation, default values can be defined. A file vboxconf can contain the following debconf settings:

virtualbox virtualbox/module-compilation-allowed boolean true
virtualbox virtualbox/delete-old-modules boolean true

The first line allows compilation of the vboxdrv kernel module if no module was found for the current kernel. The second line allows the package to delete any old vboxdrv kernel modules compiled by previous installations.

These default settings can be applied with

debconf-set-selections vboxconf

prior to the installation of the VirtualBox Debian package.

In addition there are some common configuration options that can be set prior to the installation, described in the section called “Automatic installation options”.

Automatic installation of .rpm packages

The .rpm format does not provide a configuration system comparable to the debconf system. See the section called “Automatic installation options” for how to set some common installation options provided by VirtualBox.

Automatic installation options

To configure the installation process of our .deb and .rpm packages, you can create a response file named /etc/default/virtualbox. The automatic generation of the udev rule can be prevented by the following setting:


The creation of the group vboxusers can be prevented by


If the line


is specified, the package installer will not try to build the vboxdrv kernel module if no module fitting the current kernel was found.

The vboxusers group

The Linux installers create the system user group vboxusers during installation. Any system user who is going to use USB devices from VirtualBox guests must be a member of that group. A user can be made a member of the group vboxusers through the GUI user/group management or at the command line with

sudo usermod -a -G vboxusers username

Note that adding an active user to that group will require that user to log out and back in again. This should be done manually after successful installation of the package.

Starting VirtualBox on Linux

The easiest way to start a VirtualBox program is by running the program of your choice (VirtualBox, VBoxManage, VBoxSDL or VBoxHeadless) from a terminal. These are symbolic links to that start the required program for you.

The following detailed instructions should only be of interest if you wish to execute VirtualBox without installing it first. You should start by compiling the vboxdrv kernel module (see above) and inserting it into the Linux kernel. VirtualBox consists of a service daemon (VBoxSVC) and several application programs. The daemon is automatically started if necessary. All VirtualBox applications will communicate with the daemon through Unix local domain sockets. There can be multiple daemon instances under different user accounts and applications can only communicate with the daemon running under the user account as the application. The local domain socket resides in a subdirectory of your system's directory for temporary files called .vbox-<username>-ipc. In case of communication problems or server startup problems, you may try to remove this directory.

All VirtualBox applications (VirtualBox, VBoxSDL, VBoxManage and VBoxHeadless) require the VirtualBox directory to be in the library path:

LD_LIBRARY_PATH=. ./VBoxManage showvminfo "Windows XP"

Installing on Solaris hosts

For the specific versions of Solaris that we support as host operating systems, please refer to the section called “Supported host operating systems”.

If you have a previously installed instance of VirtualBox on your Solaris host, please uninstall it first before installing a new instance. Refer to the section called “Uninstallation” for uninstall instructions.

Performing the installation

VirtualBox is available as a standard Solaris package. Download the VirtualBox SunOS package which includes both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of VirtualBox. The installation must be performed as root and from the global zone as the VirtualBox installer loads kernel drivers which cannot be done from non-global zones. To verify which zone you are currently in, execute the zonename command. Execute the following commands:

gunzip -cd VirtualBox-4.2.12-SunOS.tar.gz | tar xvf -

Starting with VirtualBox 3.1 the VirtualBox kernel package is no longer a separate package and has been integrated into the main package. Install the VirtualBox package using:

pkgadd -d VirtualBox-4.2.12-SunOS.pkg


If you are using Solaris Zones, to install VirtualBox only into the current zone and not into any other zone, use pkgadd -G. For more information refer to the pkgadd manual; see also the section called “Configuring a zone for running VirtualBox”.

The installer will then prompt you to enter the package you wish to install. Choose "1" or "all" and proceed. Next the installer will ask you if you want to allow the postinstall script to be executed. Choose "y" and proceed as it is essential to execute this script which installs the VirtualBox kernel module. Following this confirmation the installer will install VirtualBox and execute the postinstall setup script.

Once the postinstall script has been executed your installation is now complete. You may now safely delete the uncompressed package and autoresponse files from your system. VirtualBox would be installed in /opt/VirtualBox.

The vboxuser group

Starting with VirtualBox 4.1, the installer creates the system user group vboxuser during installation for Solaris hosts that support the USB features required by VirtualBox. Any system user who is going to use USB devices from VirtualBox guests must be a member of this group. A user can be made a member of this group through the GUI user/group management or at the command line by executing as root:

usermod -G vboxuser username

Note that adding an active user to that group will require that user to log out and back in again. This should be done manually after successful installation of the package.

Starting VirtualBox on Solaris

The easiest way to start a VirtualBox program is by running the program of your choice (VirtualBox, VBoxManage, VBoxSDL or VBoxHeadless) from a terminal. These are symbolic links to that start the required program for you.

Alternatively, you can directly invoke the required programs from /opt/VirtualBox. Using the links provided is easier as you do not have to type the full path.

You can configure some elements of the VirtualBox Qt GUI such as fonts and colours by executing VBoxQtconfig from the terminal.


Uninstallation of VirtualBox on Solaris requires root permissions. To perform the uninstallation, start a root terminal session and execute:

pkgrm SUNWvbox

After confirmation, this will remove VirtualBox from your system.

If you are uninstalling VirtualBox version 3.0 or lower, you need to remove the VirtualBox kernel interface package, execute:

pkgrm SUNWvboxkern

Unattended installation

To perform a non-interactive installation of VirtualBox we have provided a response file named autoresponse that the installer will use for responses to inputs rather than ask them from you.

Extract the tar.gz package as described in the normal installation. Then open a root terminal session and execute:

pkgadd -d VirtualBox-4.2.12-SunOS-x86 -n -a autoresponse SUNWvbox

To perform a non-interactive uninstallation, open a root terminal session and execute:

pkgrm -n -a /opt/VirtualBox/autoresponse SUNWvbox

Configuring a zone for running VirtualBox

Starting with VirtualBox 1.6 it is possible to run VirtualBox from within Solaris zones. For an introduction of Solaris zones, please refer to

Assuming that VirtualBox has already been installed into your zone, you need to give the zone access to VirtualBox's device node. This is done by performing the following steps. Start a root terminal and execute:

zonecfg -z vboxzone

Inside the zonecfg prompt add the device resource and match properties to the zone. Here's how it can be done:

zonecfg:vboxzone>add device
zonecfg:vboxzone:device>set match=/dev/vboxdrv

If you are running VirtualBox 2.2.0 or above on Solaris 11 or Nevada hosts, you should add a device for /dev/vboxusbmon too, similar to what was shown above. This does not apply to Solaris 10 hosts due to lack of USB support.

Replace "vboxzone" with the name of the zone in which you intend to run VirtualBox. Next reboot the zone using zoneadm and you should be able to run VirtualBox from within the configured zone.