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VirtualBox is a virtual PC emulator like VMware. It is in constant development and new features are implemented all the time. e.g. version 2.2 introduced OpenGL 3D acceleration support for Linux and Solaris guests. It has a Qt GUI interface, as well as headless and SDL command line tools for managing and running virtual machines. It includes guest additions for some guest operating systems, which integrate functions of the guest and host systems, including sharing files, the clipboard, video acceleration and a “seamless” window integration mode.


Installation on host

The basic GPL-licensed VirtualBox suite can be installed with the virtualbox package, found in the official repositories. You will need to install virtualbox-modules separately, if it is not installed with the the virtualbox package, which contains the precompiled modules for the stock archlinux kernel. For custom kernels, read the section below.

In order to use the graphical interface, based on Qt (VirtualBox command), you will also need to install the qt package. This is not required for the simpler SDL-only GUI (VBoxSDL command) nor for the VBoxHeadless command.

If you are using the linux-lts kernel you should install also the virtualbox-modules-lts package.

Hosts running a custom kernel

VirtualBox works just fine with custom kernels such as Linux-ck without the need to keep any of the official ARCH kernel packages on the system. The trick to keeping pacman from bringing down the ARCH kernel packages is to install virtualbox with the virtualbox-source package, which contains the source for the virtualbox kernel modules. See FS#26721 for further explanations.

Once virtualbox-source is installed, simply generate the kernel modules for your custom kernel by running:

# dkms install vboxhost/<virtualbox-source version> -k <your custom kernel's version>/<your architecture>

Which for the lazy is the command:

# dkms install vboxhost/$(pacman -Q virtualbox|awk {'print $2'}|sed 's/\-.\+//') -k $(uname -rm|sed 's/\ /\//')

and load it:

# modprobe vboxdrv
Note: (Not working currently) To load/compile virtualbox modules automatically at startup you can install and add dkms in your DAEMONS array.

Automatic re-compilation of the virtualbox modules with every kernel update

Note: The hook has been updated to run dkms (not as a daemon) instead of vboxbuild.

This is possible thanks to virtualbox-hookAUR from the AUR. In virtualbox-hook, the 'automatic re-compilation' functionality is done by a vbox hook on mkinitcpio after forcing to update the linux-headers package. You will need to add 'vbox' to the HOOKS array in /etc/mkinitcpio.conf as well as 'linux-headers' and your custom kernel(s) headers to the SyncFirst array in /etc/pacman.conf for this to work.

The hook will call the dkms command to update the virtualbox modules for the version of your new kernel.

Note: If you are using this functionality it's important to look at the installation process of the linux (or any other kernel) package. vbox hook will tell you if anything goes wrong.


Add the desired username to the vboxusers group. Everything may work fine without this step but shared folders and possibly some other optional stuff require it to work. The new group does not automatically apply to existing sessions; the user has to log in again or start a new environment with a command like newgrp or sudo -u username -s.

# gpasswd -a username vboxusers

VirtualBox running on Linux uses its own kernel modules, including a mandatory one called vboxdrv, which must be loaded before virtual machines can run. It can be automatically loaded when Arch Linux starts up, or it can be loaded manually when necessary.

To load the VirtualBox driver at startup, add a file with the *.conf suffix in the /etc/modules-load.d directory (e.g. virtualbox.conf) that reads "vboxdrv":

# tee /etc/modules-load.d/virtualbox.conf <<< "vboxdrv"

Note: You may need to update the kernel modules db in order to avoid 'no such file or directory' error when loading vboxdrv. Run: depmod -a.

To load the module manually:

# modprobe vboxdrv

To start the VirtualBox graphical manager:

$ VirtualBox

Guest additions disc

The virtualbox package also suggests installing virtualbox-additions on the host (Arch Linux) running VirtualBox. It is a disc image that can be used to install the guest additions onto guest systems.

Booting a live disc

Click the 'New' button to create a new virtual environment. Name it appropriately and select Operating System type and version. Select base memory size (note: most operating systems will need at least 512MB to function properly). Create a new hard disk image (a hard disk image is a file that will contain the operating system's filesystem and files).

When the new image has been created, click 'Settings', then CD/DVD-ROM, check 'Mount CD/DVD Drive' then select an ISO image.

Advanced setup

See VirtualBox Extras for advanced configuration.

Arch Linux guests

Installing Arch under VirtualBox is straightforward, and additions should be installed through pacman (not through "Install Guest Additions" in VirtualBox, or a mounted ISO.) Follow these instructions after doing a basic install of the X-window system found on the Beginners' Guide.

Guest additions package

Install virtualbox-archlinux-additions.

Kernel modules

Manually load the VirtualBox modules with

# modprobe -a vboxguest vboxsf vboxvideo

Auto-start modules

Create a *.conf file (e.g. virtualbox.conf) in /etc/modules-load.d/ with these lines:


The legacy way to start these modules during boot-up was by adding the three modules above to the MODULES array in /etc/rc.conf. This is now deprecated.

MODULES=(... vboxguest vboxsf vboxvideo)

If kernel modules won't load by adding them to rc.conf then you may need to follow the instructions at Systemd#Kernel_modules_loaded_during_boot

Enable VboxClient-all

The VBoxClient contain these services(/usr/bin/VBoxClient-all) (copy/paste...) :

 --clipboard        start the shared clipboard service
 --display          start the display management service
 --checkhostversion start the host version notifier service
 --seamless         start the seamless windows service

So you can Enable VBoxClient-all to start all these services.

If you are running something that launches /etc/xdg/autostart/vboxclient.desktop, such as GNOME, then you should be ready to go. If you use .xinitrc to launch things instead, you must add

VBoxClient-all &

to your .xinitrc before launching your WM. You should now be all set, and all guest additions should work properly.

Typing the following in a terminal will show which VBoxClient services are currently running:

[user@ArchVBox ~]$ ps aux | grep -i vbox

with the typical response:

root       479  0.0  0.1 150408  1060 ?        Sl   22:46   0:00 VBoxService
user       637  0.0  0.1 108428  1968 ?        Sl   22:46   0:00 /usr/bin/VBoxClient --clipboard
user       648  0.0  0.1 110520  1764 ?        Sl   22:46   0:00 /usr/bin/VBoxClient --display
user       653  0.0  0.1 106356  1440 ?        Sl   22:46   0:00 /usr/bin/VBoxClient --seamless
user       831  0.0  0.0 105704   748 ?        S    23:19   0:00 /usr/bin/VBoxClient --checkhostversion
user       741  0.0  0.0   8684   892 pts/0    R+   22:46   0:00 grep -i vbox

(Information on starting the vboxservice daemon is in the Shared Folders section.)

Using USB webcam / microphone

Note: You will need to have VirtualBox extension pack installed before following the steps below. See VirtualBox_Extras#Extension_pack for details.
  1. Make sure the virtual machine is not running and your webcam / microphone is not being used.
  2. Bring up the main VirtualBox window and go to settings for Arch machine. Go to USB section.
  3. Make sure "Enable USB Controller" is selected. Also make sure that "Enable USB 2.0 (EHCI) Controller" is selected too.
  4. Click the "Add filter from device" button (the cable with the '+' icon).
  5. Select your USB webcam/microphone device from the list.
  6. Now click OK and start your VM.

Using Arch under Virtualbox EFI mode

My experience with this configuration was pretty terrible, but it does work.

First, efibootmgr does *not* work. It will appear to work, but all changes it makes appear to be overwritten on reboot. After performing a standard UEFI/GPT installation, reboot and you should get dumped to the EFI shell. Type exit and you will get a menu. Select the Boot Management Manager, Boot Options, Add Boot Option. Use the file browser to find the grub efi file and select it. Add a label if you want. Afterwards, select Change Boot Order from the menu, use arrow keys to select your Arch option, and + to move it up to the top. Grub should boot by default now.

Note: Another useful way to get back to the EFI menu after autobooting is working is to press c inside grub and type exit. This will only work with EFI grub.

Perhaps unrelated, but I also had an issue where grub.cfg was not getting updated with sudo update-grub. I had to delete grub.cfg before regenerating it to fix the broken UUID's contained in the cfg file.

Shared Folders as Arch Linux Guest

Shared folders are managed via the VirtualBox program on the host. They may be added, auto-mounted and made read-only from there. Creating a shared folder from the VirtualBox program in the host locates that folder in /media/sf_SHAREDFOLDERNAME. At this time an additional step is needed to have that folder created in the Arch Guest because Arch use a package for Guest Additions. To create and access this shared folder from the Arch Guest, this must also be done at the command line after installing the Guest Additions package(s) from pacman:

# groupadd vboxsf
# gpasswd -a $USER vboxsf

If you wish, a symbolic link may be made to another folder in your home directory for easy access. As an example, if a shared folder named "Dropbox" was created in the VirtualBox program on the host machine, then /media/sf_Dropbox is automatically created in the guest so this could be done:

$ ln -s /media/sf_Dropbox/* ~/dropbox

The .run script provided in the Guest Additions iso does this for you, however, Arch does not recommend using that script so this step must be done manually. The instructions for it were found here: (pastebin: [1]) .

If shared folders are not auto-mounted, try manually mount or read the next section.

To prevent startup problems when you're using systemd, you should add comment=systemd.automount to you're fstab-entries. This way they got mounted only when you access those mountpoints and not during startup. Otherwise your system might become unusable after a kernel upgrade (if you install your guest additions manually).

 desktop   /media/desktop    vboxsf  uid=user,gid=group,rw,dmode=700,fmode=600,comment=systemd.automount 0 0

Don't waste your time to test the nofail-option. mount.vboxsf is not able to handle this (2012-08-20).

 desktop   /media/desktop    vboxsf  uid=user,gid=group,rw,dmode=700,fmode=600,nofail 0 0

Synchronise guest date with host

To keep sync date and time:



# systemctl enable vboxservice.service

To enable the service for next boot. To start immediately, run

# systemctl start vboxservice.service


Add the following to the guest /etc/rc.conf in DAEMONS entry:

DAEMONS=(... vbox-service ...)
DAEMONS=(... vboxservice ...)  # as tested 2012/07/28 with virtualbox-additions 4.1.18-1 and kernel 3.4.6-1-ARCH x86_64

You also need run this daemon in order to use auto-mounting feature of shared folders that are mentioned above.


USB subsystem is not working on the host

Sometimes the usb subsystem is not auto-detected resulting in an error, even when the user is in the vboxusers group. See this topic [2] for details.

Adding an entry in /etc/fstab should resolve this issue:

none  /proc/bus/usb  usbfs  auto,busgid=108,busmode=0775,devgid=108,devmode=664  0  0

Failed to create the host-only network interface

It's needed to load kernel modules vboxnetadp and vboxnetflt in case of creating Host-Only Network Adapter or a Bridged Network Adapter. It's possible to load this kernel module manually with

# modprobe -a vboxnetadp vboxnetflt

or add vboxnetadp and vboxnetflt into MODULES array in /etc/rc.conf when it's needed to load modules at boot

MODULES=(... vboxnetadp vboxnetflt)
Note: As MODULES in /etc/rc.conf is now deprecated, add a new line for each module to /etc/modules-load.d/virtualbox.conf instead.

More information in this [3] topic.

WinXP: Bit-depth cannot be greater than 16

If you are running at 16-bit color depth, then the icons may appear fuzzy/choppy. However, upon attempting to change the color depth to a higher level, the system may restrict you to a lower resolution or simply not enable you to change the depth at all. To fix this, run regedit add the following key to the Virtual Windows XP registry:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows NT\Terminal Services]

Then update the color depth in the desktop properties window. If nothing happens, force the screen to redraw through some method (i.e. Template:Keypress to redraw/enter full screen)

Mounting .vdi Images

This just work with static size vdi images! Dynamic size won't be easy mountable! First we need one information from your .vdi image

$ VBoxManage internalcommands dumphdinfo Arch_64min.vdi |grep offData
Header: offBlocks=4096 offData=69632

Now add to your offData 32256. e.g. 32256 + 69632 = 101888

Now you can mount your vdi image like that

# mount -t ext4 -o rw,noatime,noexec,loop,offset=101888 Arch_64min.vdi /mnt/

Startup problems because of mount failures

If you experience problems in a [[systemd] setup after a kernel upgrade, you should start the system with init=/bin/bash (if the emergency shell doesn't work for you).

 root=/dev/mapper/vg_main-lv_root ro vga=792 resume=/dev/mapper/vg_main-lv_swap init=/bin/bash

Then mount the root-filesystem with write access

 mount / -o remount,rw

Change /etc/fstab according to VirtualBox#Shared Folders as Arch Linux Guest. Then exec systemd with in the bash shell

 exec /bin/systemd

External links