VirtualBox Guest Additions, similar to Virtual Machine Additions for Virtual PC (VPC), is an application that installs into guest operating system running in virtual machine (VM) of VirtualBox to add and enable extra features that allow better and seamless integration between guest OS and host OS, in addition to improve performance.

Some of the features made available by VirtualBox Guest Additions include:

  • Mouse pointer integration without having to press Host key (by default is right Ctrl).
  • Clipboard sharing to allow cut, copy and paste between host OS and guest OS.
  • Arbitrary screen solutions which automatically resize guest operating system desktop resolution by resizing the VirtualBox guest window.
  • Custom video drivers provide extra high and non-standard video modes as well as accelerated video performance.
  • Time synchronization between guest OS and host machine.
  • Shared folders where folder in directories in host available in guest operating system as network share.
  • Seamless windows to map individual windows that are displayed on the desktop of the virtual machine on the host’s desktop, side by side.
  • Automated Windows logon.

With the powerful features provided by Guest Additions, the installation of the Guest Additions right after the operating system is installed on the guest virtual machine is almost a must-do. Unlike in Windows, installation of VirtualBox Guest Additions in Linux is slightly more complicated. Here’s the steps to install Guest Additions in Linux for VirtualBox, which works for most flavors of Linux, including Ubuntu, Fedora, Red Hat, Debian, OpenSUSE, Arch Linux, Gentoo, Mandriva, TurboLinux, and Xandros.

  1. Start up the Linux guest virtual machine.
  2. In the Linux guest Virtualbox window, click on Devices pull down menu, and choose Install Guest Additions.

    Install VirtualBox Guest Additions

    The CD ISO image for VirtualBox Guest Additions will be mounted at /media/cdrom, and CD icon will be displayed on desktop, in the case of some Linux such as Ubuntu.

  3. Inside the Linux operating system, launch Terminal or command-line window. For example, in Ubuntu, go to Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal.

    Open Ubuntu Terminal Command-Line Window

  4. Change directory to the CD/DVD-ROM drive when VirtualBox Guest Additions image is loaded and mounted:

    cd /media/cdrom

    Note: In some Linux flavors, the path may be different.

  5. For 32-bit (x86) guest OS, run the following command to install Virtual Box Guest Additions:

    sudo ./VBoxLinuxAdditions-x86.run

    For 64-bit (x64) guest OS, run the following command:

    sudo ./VBoxLinuxAdditions-amd64.run

    Install Guest Additions in Linux VM

    Enter the administrator’s password when prompted.

  6. After installation completed, restart the guest machine. In Ubuntu 9.10, just click on the user name on top right corner, and select Restart. Prior to Ubuntu 9.04, go to System to reboot the virtual machine.

    Reboot Guest OS

  7. Once the virtual machine boots up again, VirtualBox Guest Additions is installed, and user can enjoy the benefits, most visibly is mouse pointer integration.

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