HOWTO: Setup Headless Sun xVM VirtualBox 2.0 on Ubuntu Server 8.10 – Windows XP

The steps are not too difficult but I did have to find a few places for information. Search on the forum turn up nothing on this subject so hopefully this HOWTO would be helpful to someone out there.

Note: This is not using the OSE version.

VirtualBox has a very good GUI running on the host to manage guest OS. However when running a server, we typically do not want to run X on it. Fortunately VirtualBox has commandline tools to manage guest systems. It also provides the VirtualBox Remote Desktop Protocol (VRDP) to allow connection to the guest remotely.

Clarification of terms used:
Host – refers to the machine we are trying to install VirtualBox.
Guest – the VirtualBox guest system that is setup on the host.
Remote – the PC that we are working on to connect to the host via SSH.

This setup was done on a fresh install of Ubuntu Server 8.10 with openssh-server installed.

All the following steps are done by SSH into the host from a remote (I’m using Windows for now).

1. Get required packages
Download the Ubuntu package for VirtualBox from

wget “download link here” -O virtualbox-2.0_2.0.4-38406_Ubuntu_intrepid_i386.deb

We are using the non-OSE version here.

The manual from is also very useful.

2. Installation

sudo dpkg -i virtualbox-2.0_2.0.4-38406_Ubuntu_intrepid_i386.deb

This will generate a bunch of dependencies. Fix them with

sudo apt-get -f upgrade

3. Decide on user, disk files location

First decide which user you want to run VirtualBox. Add this user to the vboxusers group.

sudo usermod -a -G vboxusers vboxuser

By default VirtualBox creates the directory .VirtualBox on the user home directory and put all the config and disk file there. In my setup, I put the disk files in /var/vbox as I had created a large partition for this purpose.

4. Install a guest OS

You will need an iso for the guest OS install CD. Copy or download it to the host. We will  use windowsxp.iso

-create a vm

VBoxManage createvm -name winxp -register

-config vm

VBoxManage modifyvm winxp -memory “256MB” -acpi on -boot1 dvd -nic1 nat

-create a disk

VBoxManage createvdi -filename “/var/vbox/winxp.vdi” -size 5000 -register

-add disk to vm

VBoxManage modifyvm winxp -hda “/var/vbox/winxp.vdi”

-register an install iso

VBoxManage registerimage dvd /var/vbox/windows.iso

-mount iso on vm

VBoxManage modifyvm ubuntu -dvd /var/vbox/windows.iso

-start the vm with port

VBoxHeadless -startvm winxp -p 3389 &

If you are running just 1 guest, the -p 3389 is optional. For more than 1 guest, it has to listen to different port.

5. Connect from remote

Since my desktop is still Windows, I use Remote Desktop Connection. (On XP, Start>All Programs>Accessories>Communications)

For Mac, use
For Ubuntu, look at

Just fill in the IP of your host (or IP:port if not the default) and you should see the Windows installation waiting for you.

Other useful commands:

VBoxManage controlvm winxp poweroff
VBoxManage controlvm winxp reset

6. Install the Guest additions

You will need the  latest ‘VBoxGuestAdditions.iso that is located here:

wget –O VBoxGuestAdditions.iso

Now just move it in /var/vbox/ since all our images are here.

sudo mv VBoxGuestAdditiond.iso /var/vbox/VBoxGuestAdditiond.iso

Don’t forget to register your image!

VBoxManage registerimage dvd /var/vbox/VBoxGuestAdditiond.iso

Now we will mount it on the guest OS

VBoxManage controlvm winxp dvdattach /var/vbox/VBoxGuestAdditiond.iso

Now you should see it in you Guest OS! 🙂

That it!

I will make other how-to like that with different OS and also i will post how-to put you Guest OS in your network so you can share file with all you pc’s on this network.

  1. #1 by akraps.test - November 10th, 2008 at 16:19

    Excellent timing to post this how-to.

    I have just installed Red Hat 5 on HP Proliant and plan to use Vbox for virtualisation. Hope I’ll be able to reuse this.

    Did you have any issues with permissions? When you add users to vbox group, can they use any VM?

    Cheers, S

  2. #2 by The Right Guy - November 10th, 2008 at 17:22

    Off course you can use the VM if they are in the group.
    But personally i use it as root so you don’t have problems running it 🙂

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