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Install VirtualBox Guest Additions on Ubuntu and Debian

If you want performance and convenience out of your virtual machine (VM) you must install VirtualBox Guest Additions on Ubuntu and Debian. We have shown you how to install Virtual Box on Ubuntu / Debian and Windows. But the vanilla VirtualBox has quite a few annoyances like inability to run guest OSes in fullscreen, sharing clipboard, etc. On top of that there is room for improved performance of VirtualBox machines. Install VirtualBox Guest Additions on Ubuntu and Debian, eliminate these issues, and take your virtual machines to a new level.

What are VirtualBox Guest Additions?

Guest Additions are extra features that make VirtualBox even more powerful. Some examples of features added by VirtualBox Guest additions are listed below:

  • Better Screen resolution - allows fullscreen operation
  • Automatic resizing of appliance window
  • Seamless mode - guest OS blends in with host OS
  • Shared Clipboard between host and guest OSes
  • Improved performance of guest OS
  • Drag and Drop between guest and host OSes

Installing VirtualBox Guest Additions on Ubuntu / Debian guest OSes is the first thing I do after creating a VM. Now let us see how to install Guest Additions in VirtualBox.

Install VirtualBox Guest Additions on Ubuntu / Debian Linux

One thing to keep in mind is that Guest Additions, as the name says, are additions to the Guest OS and not the host OS. Therefore, in this case the guest OS running on the virtual machine is Ubuntu, Ubuntu Derivatives (including Ubuntu Server), Debian, or Debian derivatives (including Debian server). The host OS on which VirtualBox is installed can be anything.

Recommended HTPC / Home Server Builds:

The VirtualBox Guest Additions setup method varies slightly with distribution. In some cases, as soon as you mount the VBox Guest Additions ISO CD image you will be prompted to execute the autorun script. On others you will have to manually setup VirtualBox Guest Additions. The manual method to install VirtualBox Guest Additions on Debian and Ubuntu Linux is shown here as it should work in most cases.

First, we will need to install a package called dkms. This is needed to make Virtual Box continue to work with any updated kernels in future. You may already have it installed but there is no harm in trying again and running the command below.

sudo apt-get install dkms

Next, you do not have to download VirtualBox Guest Additions CD. All you have to do is, when Ubuntu or Debian virtual appliance is running, go to Devices->Insert Guest Additions CD image as shown in the picture below. This will mount the VBox Guest Additions CD for installation.

Install Vbox Guest Additions
Load Vbox Guest Additions Cd Image

In some Linux distributions, the autorun script automatically opens. In others, the CD image is opened and contents are shown in file explorer. This is what happened with Xubuntu that is being used in this demo.

Open Vbox Guest Additions Cd
Open Vbox Guest Additions Cd

You may now right-click in the empty space within the file explorer and choose "Open Terminal Here". In some others, nothing happens after you insert CD image and you will have to manually open terminal and navigate the contents. The CD image is typically mounted under /media/USERNAME/CDNAME, where USERNAME is your username and CDNAME is name of the CD image. In this demo the path is:


Once you have a terminal window open and you are in the CD image folder, you are now ready to install VirtualBox Guest Additions on Ubuntu or Debian guest OS. Finally, run the VBox Guest Additions installer using the following command:

sudo ./VBoxLinuxAdditions.run

That is it, just sit and watch. The script will automatically prepare and install VBox Guest Additions on Ubuntu / Debian.

Install Virtualbox Guest Additions On Ubuntu / Debian
Install Virtualbox Guest Additions On Ubuntu / Debian

Once the installation finishes, reboot your guest OS, and you are done. You should now be able to run the guest OS in fullscreen mode, drag and drop things between guest and host OS, share clipboards, and do much more. In my opinion, if you use VirtualBox then Guest Additions are a must-have. VirtualBox also offers what is known as Extension Pack, which adds some advanced features. But most users do not need the Extension Pack. Go ahead install VirtualBox Guest Additions on Ubuntu and Debian guest OSes and enjoy added performance and features.

Complete Guide to Setting Up a Home Server on VirtualBox Virtual Machine:
  1. Install VirtualBox - Windows 7/8/10 / Ubuntu/Debian
  2. Install VirtualBox Extension Pack - Linux and Windows Host
  3. Install Guest OS on Virtual Box - Ubuntu Server
  4. Install VirtualBox Guest Additions - Windows Guest / Linux Guest
  5. Update VirtualBox Guest Additions - Windows Guest / Linux Guest
  6. Setup VirtualBox Shared Folder - Windows and Linux
  7. Mount VirtualBox Shared Folder - Windows Guest / Ubuntu Guest
  8. Access USB Drive on VM - Windows and Linux Guest
  9. Configure Home Server on VirtualBox - Ubuntu Server

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Anand is a self-learned computer enthusiast, hopeless tinkerer (if it ain't broke, fix it), a part-time blogger, and a Scientist during the day. He has been blogging since 2010 on Linux, Ubuntu, Home/Media/File Servers, Smart Home Automation, and related HOW-TOs.