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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.

The virtualbox-host-modules package, which contains the precompiled modules for the stock archlinux kernel, should be installed with it. If you are using the linux-lts kernel you should also install the virtualbox-host-modules-lts package. 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 qt4 package. This is not required for the simpler SDL-only GUI (VBoxSDL command) nor for the VBoxHeadless command.

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-host-dkms package, which contains the source for the virtualbox kernel modules. See FS#26721 for further explanations.

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

# dkms install vboxhost/<virtualbox-host-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/\ /\//')
Note: You're probably missing linux-headers if you are getting an error like Your kernel headers for kernel <your custom kernel's version> cannot be found at/usr/lib/modules/<your custom kernel's version>/build or /usr/lib/modules/<your custom kernel's version>/source

and load it:

# modprobe vboxdrv

To load/compile virtualbox modules automatically at startup you can enable dkms.service:

# systemctl enable dkms.service

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

This is possible thanks to vboxhost-hookAUR from the AUR. In vboxhost-hook, the 'automatic re-compilation' functionality is done by a vboxhost hook on mkinitcpio after forcing to update the linux-headers package. You will need to add 'vboxhost' 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.

Warning: The SyncFirst option is no longer available as of pacman 4.1. Use
$ pacman -Sy linux-headers && pacman -Su
instead to manually cause linux-headers to be updated first. See This explanation.

The hook will call the dkms command to update the virtualbox host 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. vboxhost 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

Loading Kernel Modules

VirtualBox running on Linux uses its own kernel modules, including a mandatory module named 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 module manually:

# modprobe vboxdrv

To load the VirtualBox driver at startup, create a *.conf file (e.g. virtualbox.conf) in /etc/modules-load.d that contains all modules that should be loaded:

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 start the VirtualBox graphical manager:

$ VirtualBox

To ensure full functionality of bridged networking, ensure that the vboxnetadp, vboxnetflt and vboxpci kernel modules are loaded as well as the net-tools package.

Guest additions disc

The virtualbox package also suggests installing virtualbox-guest-iso on the host (Arch Linux) running VirtualBox. It is a disc image that can be used to install the guest additions onto guest systems. Make it available to the (running) guest by going to Devices and clicking "Install Guest Additions... Host+D". Then run the guest additions installation from inside the guest.

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 512 MB 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.

Starting virtual machines with a service

See Systemd/Services#VirtualBox virtual machines for details on how to setup a systemd service for each virtual machine.

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 from a mounted ISO image).

Install the Guest Additions

Install the virtualbox-guest-utils package. Manually load the modules with:

# modprobe -a vboxguest vboxsf vboxvideo

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


Add the following line to the top of ~/.xinitrc above any exec options. (create a new file if it does not exist):

Note: If you are creating a new ~/.xinitrc file you must also include a window manager or desktop environment.

Automatic re-compilation of the VirtualBox guest modules with every update of any kernel

This is possible thanks to vboxguest-hookAUR from the AUR. In vboxguest-hook, the 'automatic re-compilation' functionality is done by a vboxguest hook on mkinitcpio after forcing to update the linux-headers package. You will need to add vboxguest to the HOOKS array in /etc/mkinitcpio.conf. You may need to manually recreate the initramfs after an upgrade of the linux-headers package.

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

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

Start the sharing services

After installing virtualbox-guest-utils above, you should start VBoxClient-all to start services for sharing the clipboard, resizing the screen, etc.

  • If you are running something that launches /etc/xdg/autostart/vboxclient.desktop, such as GNOME or KDE, then nothing needs to be done.
  • If you use .xinitrc to launch things instead, you must add the following to your .xinitrc before launching your WM.
# VBoxClient-all &

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.

UPD. Using efibootmgr has the same effect as using VirtualBox boot menu (see the note below): settings disappear after VM shutdown. 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 Template:Keypress to move it up to the top. GRUB should boot by default now.

Other options are: 1) move your loader to \EFI\boot\bootx64.efi, 2) create \startup.nsh script, which executes desirable loader, like this:


Here I'm using consistent mapping name (HD16a0a1). It is probably a good idea, because they do survive configuration changes.

Note: Another useful way to get back to the EFI menu after autobooting is working is to press the Template:Keypress key inside GRUB and type exit. Obviously, this will only work with grub-efi, not grub-bios.

Regenerating the grub.cfg file may also be required to fix broken UUIDs. Check with the lsblk -f command that they match.

Yet another useful way to get to VirtualBox boot menu is pressing Template:Keypress right after starting virtual machine. It comes in handy when using rEFInd + EFISTUB, for example.

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
Note: For automounting to work, you have to enable the vboxservice service. See next section for instructions.

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 your /etc/fstab. This way, they are 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, make sure you have virtualbox-guest-utils installed in your host (see previous section). Then run

# systemctl enable vboxservice.service

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

# systemctl start vboxservice.service

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



This can occur if a VM is exited ungracefully. The solution to unlock the VM is trivial:

VBoxManage controlvm nArch poweroff

USB subsystem is not working on the host or guest

Sometimes the USB subsystem is not auto-detected resulting in an error or in a not visible USB drive on the host, even when the user is in the vboxusers group. See this topic [2] for details.

USB subsystem will work if you add


to ~/.bashrc and reboot your system or open a new bash instance.

Also make sure that your user is a member of the storage group.

Failed to create the host-only network interface

To be able to create a Host-Only Network Adapter or a Bridged Network Adapter the kernel modules vboxnetadp and vboxnetflt need to be loaded, you also need to make sure the net-tools package is installed. It's possible to load these kernel modules manually with

# modprobe -a vboxnetadp vboxnetflt

To load them automatically at boot, add a new line for each module to /etc/modules-load.d/virtualbox.conf:

Note: These used to be added to the MODULES array in /etc/rc.conf. This is now deprecated.

More information in this 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:

# 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 does not 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 #Shared Folders as Arch Linux Guest. Then exec systemd within the Bash shell:

# exec /bin/systemd

Copy&Paste not working on Arch Linux Guest

Since updating virtualbox-guest-additions to version 4.2.0-2 copy&paste from Host OS to Arch Linux Guest stopped working. It seems to be due to VBoxClient-all requiring root access. In previous versions adding VBoxClient-all & to ~/.xinitrc was sufficient to make copy&paste work. Update ~/.xinitrc to match sudo VBoxClient-all & and add the line , NOPASSWD: /usr/bin/VBoxClient-all to your username in the sudoers file and restart X. It should all work again. The line in the sudoers file should look similar to this:

 # Allow sudo for user 'you' and let him run VBoxClient-all without requiring a password
 you ALL = PASSWD: ALL, NOPASSWD: /usr/bin/VBoxClient-all
Note: Use visudo to edit the sudoers file. This will check for syntax errors when saving.

Use Serial port in guest OS

Check you permission in Serial port

$ /bin/ls -l /dev/ttyS*
crw-rw---- 1 root uucp 4, 64 Feb  3 09:12 /dev/ttyS0
crw-rw---- 1 root uucp 4, 65 Feb  3 09:12 /dev/ttyS1
crw-rw---- 1 root uucp 4, 66 Feb  3 09:12 /dev/ttyS2
crw-rw---- 1 root uucp 4, 67 Feb  3 09:12 /dev/ttyS3

Add you user in uucp group.

# gpasswd -a YOURUSER uucp 

and relogon.

Abort on resume

There is a known bug that causes abort on resume: The workaround is simple: always use Host+q or the menu to close the VM.

System Images in Btrfs

In 2010 there were reports that OS disk images would not start if they were attached via a virtual SATA device. It was reportedly fixed, and seemed to be. But as of around March 2013, that particular bug report has been repoened. This can be fixed by enabling the use of the host I/O cache, which is disabled by default with virtual SATA interfaces.

vagrant up Issue

With the latest version of Virtualbox(4.2.14-1) the vagrant up command end up in a failure:

Command: ["import", 
Stderr: 0%...10%...20%...30%...40%...50%...60%...70%...80%...90%...100%
Progress object failure: NS_ERROR_CALL_FAILED

Until the fix makes it into a release you will need to workaround or downgrade VirtualBox.

Workaround by creating manifests for each box in ~/.vagrant.d/boxes/BoxName/virtualbox:

openssl sha1 *.vmdk *.ovf >

You can downgrade Virtualbox. If you have the old package file inside your cache just downgrade it via:

sudo pacman -U /var/cache/pacman/pkg/virtualbox-4.2.12-3-x86_64.pkg.tar.xz

This error seems to appear on all platforms:

It's unclean for the moment. It could be regression inside Virtualbox or a issue inside Vagrant. When you delete the cache you can downgrade via ArchLinux downgrader (I didn't test it correctly, but I assume this works, else check the wiki page for downgrading:

For more Information, check the issue page on github Clean install on OS X 10.8.4 w/ latest VirtualBox not working

According to the Vagrant creator on Twitter, this is a VirtualBox bug. On 2013-06-25, he said that they fixed the bug in SVN, and he's waiting on a release. Also, I can confirm that this is a multi-platform issue, 4.2.14 was broken for me on Win7.

External links