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VirtualBox: installation instructions in two separate chapters for Windows and Linux, respectively

As installation of VirtualBox varies depending on your host operating system, we provide installation instructions in two separate chapters for Windows and Linux, respectively.
1.1 Installing on Windows hosts
1.1.1 Prerequisites
In addition, Windows Installer 1.1 or higher must be present on your system. This should be the case if you have all recent Windows updates installed.
Note: Presently VirtualBox can only be run from user accounts with administrator rights. This will be fixed in a future release.
1.1.2 Performing the installation
The VirtualBox installation can be started
• either by double-clicking on its Microsoft Installer archive (MSI file)
• or by entering
msiexec /i VirtualBox.msi on the command line.

In either case, this will display the installation welcome dialog and allow you to choose where to install VirtualBox to and which components to install. In addition to the VirtualBox application, the following components are available:
USB support This package contains special drivers for your Windows host that VirtualBox requires to fully support USB devices inside your virtual machines.
Networking This package contains extra networking drivers for your Windows host that VirtualBox needs to support Host Interface Networking (to make your VM’s virtual network cards accessible from other machines on your physical network).
Depending on your Windows configuration, you may see warnings about “unsigned drivers” or similar. Please select “Continue” on these warnings as otherwise VirtualBox might not function correctly after installation.
The installer will create a “VirtualBox” group in the programs startup folder which allows you to launch the application and access its documentation.
With standard settings, VirtualBox will be installed for all users on the local system.
In case this is not wanted, you have to invoke the installer as follows:

msiexec /i VirtualBox.msi ALLUSERS=2
This will install VirtualBox only for the current user.
1.1.3 Uninstallation
As we use the Microsoft Installer, VirtualBox can be safely uninstalled at any time by choosing the program entry in the “Add/Remove Programs” applet in the Windows Control Panel.
1.1.4 Unattended installation
Unattended installations can be performed using the standard MSI support.
1.2 Installing on Linux hosts
1.2.1 Prerequisites
In any case, the following packages must be installed on your Linux system:
• Qt 3.3.5 or higher;
• SDL 1.2.7 or higher (this graphics library is typically called libsdl or similar).
Note: To be precise, these packages are only required if you want to run the VirtualBox graphical user interfaces. In particular, VirtualBox, our main graphical user interface, requires both Qt and SDL; VBoxSDL, our simplified GUI, requires only SDL. By contrast, if you only want to run the headless VRDP server that comes with VirtualBox, neither Qt nor SDL are required.

1.2.2 Support for external kernel modules

VirtualBox uses a special kernel module to perform physical memory allocation and to gain control of the processor for guest system execution. Without this kernel module, you will still be able to work with Virtual Machines in the configuration interface, but you will not be able to start any virtual machines.
To be able to install this kernel module, you will have to prepare your system for building external kernel modules. As this process can vary from system to system, we will only describe what to do for systems we have tested
• Most Linux distributions can be set up simply by installing the right packages.
Normally, these will be the GNU compiler (GCC), GNU Make (make) and packages containing header files for your kernel. The version numbers of the header file packages must be the same as that of the kernel you are using.
– In newer Debian and Ubuntu releases, you must install the right version of the linux-headers and if it exists the linux-kbuild package. Current Ubuntu releases should have the right packages installed by default.
– In older Debian and Ubuntu releases, you must install the right version of the kernel-headers package.
– On Fedora and Redhat systems, the package is kernel-devel.
– On SUSE and OpenSUSE Linux, you must install the right versions of the kernel-source and kernel-syms packages.
• Alternatively, if you built your own kernel /usr/src/linux will point to your kernel sources, and you have not removed the files created during the build process, then your system will already be correctly set up.
In order to use VirtualBox’s USB support, the user account under which you intend to run VirtualBox must have read and write access to the USB filesystem (usbfs).

1.2.3 Performing the installation
VirtualBox is available as a Debian package (in fact, there are packages for Ubuntu 6.10 “Edgy”, Ubuntu 6.06 “Dapper” and Debian 4.0 “Etch”) or as an alternative installer (.run) which should work on most Linux distributions. Installing VirtualBox from a Debian/Ubuntu package
First, download the appropriate package for your distribution. The following examples assume that you are installing to an Ubuntu Edgy system. Use dpkg to install the Debian package:

sudo dpkg -i VirtualBox_1.4.0_Ubuntu_edgy.deb

You will be asked to accept the VirtualBox Personal Use and Evaluation License.
Unless you answer “yes” here, the installation will be aborted.
The group vboxusers will be created during installation. Note that a user who is going to run VirtualBox must be member of that group. Also note that adding an active user to that group may require a restart of the session of that user. This should be done manually after successful installation of the package.
The installer will also search for a VirtualBox kernel module suitable for your kernel. The package includes pre-compiled modules for the most common kernel configurations. If no suitable kernel module is found, the installation script
tries to build a module itself. If the build process is not successful you will be shown a warning and the package will be left unconfigured. Please have a look at /var/log/vbox-install.log to find out why the compilation failed. You may have to install the appropriate Linux kernel headers
After correcting any problems, do
sudo /etc/init.d/vboxdrv setup

This will start a second attempt to build the module.
If a suitable kernel module was found in the package or the module was successfully built, the installation script will attempt to load that module.
Once VirtualBox has been successfully installed and configured, you can start it by selecting “VirtualBox” in your start menu or from the command line Using the alternative installer
The alternative installer performs the following steps:
• It unpacks the application files to a target directory of choice. By default, the following directory will be used:
• It builds the VirtualBox kernel module (vboxdrv) and installs it.
• It creates /etc/init.d/vboxdrv, an init script to start the VirtualBox kernel module.
• It creates a new system group called vboxusers.
• It creates symbolic links to VirtualBox, VBoxSDL and VBoxManage in /usr/bin.
• It creates /etc/udev/60-vboxdrv.rules, a description file for udev, if that is present, which makes the module accessible to anyone in the group vboxusers.

• It writes the installation directory to /etc/vbox/vbox.cfg.
The installer must be executed as root with either install or uninstall as the first parameter. If you do not want the installer to ask you whether you wish to accept the licence agreement (for example, for performing unattended installations), you can add the parameter license_accepted_unconditionally. Finally, if you want to use a directory other than the default installation directory, add the desired path as an extra parameter.

sudo ./VirtualBox.run install /opt/innotek/VirtualBox

Or if you do not have the “sudo” command available, run the following as root
./VirtualBox.run install /opt/innotek/VirtualBox

If any users on your system should be able to access host USB devices from within VirtualBox guests, you should add them to the appropriate user group that your distribution uses for USB access, e.g. usb or usbusers. Performing a manual installation
If, for any reason, you cannot use the shell script installer described previously, you can also perform a manual installation. Invoke the installer like this:

./VirtualBox.run --keep --noexec

This will unpack all the files needed for installation in the directory install under the current directory. The VirtualBox application files are contained in VirtualBox.tar.bz2 which you can unpack to any directory on your system. For
sudo mkdir /opt/VirtualBox
sudo tar jxf ./install/VirtualBox.tar.bz2 -C /opt/VirtualBox
or as root:
mkdir /opt/VirtualBox
tar jxf ./install/VirtualBox.tar.bz2 -C /opt/VirtualBox

The sources for VirtualBox’s kernel module are provided in the src directory. To build the module, change to the directory and issue make If everything builds correctly, issue the following command to install the module to the appropriate module directory:

sudo make install

In case you do not have sudo, switch the user account to root and perform make install The

VirtualBox kernel module needs a device node to operate. The above make command will tell you how to create the device node, depending on your Linux system.
The procedure is slightly different for a classical Linux setup with a /dev directory, a system with the now deprecated devfs and a modern Linux system with udev.
On certain Linux distributions, you might experience difficulties building the module. You will have to analyze the error messages from the build system to diagnose the cause of the problems. In general, make sure that the correct Linux kernel sources are used for the build process.
Note that the user who is going to run VirtualBox needs read and write permission on the VirtualBox kernel module device node /dev/vboxdrv. You can either define a vboxusers group by entering groupadd vboxusers

chgrp vboxusers /dev/vboxdrv
chmod 660 /dev/vboxdrv

or, alternatively, simply give all users access (insecure, not recommended!) chmod 666 /dev/vboxdrv
You should also add any users who will be allowed to use host USB devices in VirtualBox guests to the appropriate USB users group for your distribution. This group is often called usb or usbusers.
Next, you will have to install the system initialization script for the kernel module:

cp /opt/VirtualBox/vboxdrv.sh /etc/init.d/vboxdrv

(assuming you installed VirtualBox to the /opt/VirtualBox directory) and activate the initialization script using the right method for your distribution. You should create VirtualBox’s configuration file:

mkdir /etc/vbox
echo INSTALL_DIR=/opt/VirtualBox > /etc/vbox/vbox.cfg

and, for convenience, create the following symbolic links:

ln -sf /opt/VirtualBox/VBox.sh /usr/bin/VirtualBox
ln -sf /opt/VirtualBox/VBox.sh /usr/bin/VBoxSVC
ln -sf /opt/VirtualBox/VBox.sh /usr/bin/VBoxManage Updating and uninstalling VirtualBox
Before updating or uninstalling VirtualBox, you must terminate any virtual machines which are currently running and exit the VirtualBox or VBoxSVC applications. To update VirtualBox, simply run the installer of the updated version. To uninstall
VirtualBox, invoke the installer like this:

sudo ./VirtualBox.run uninstall
or as root
./VirtualBox.run uninstall

To manually uninstall VirtualBox, simply undo the steps in the manual installation in reverse order. Automatic Installation of Debian packages
The Debian packages will request some user feedback when installed for the first time.
The debconf system is used to perform this task. To prevent any user interaction during installation, default values can be defined. A file vboxconf can contain the following debconf settings:

debconf virtualbox/accepted-virtualbox-puel-1-2 boolean true
debconf virtualbox/module-compilation-allowed boolean true
debconf virtualbox/delete-old-modules boolean true

With the first setting, the user accepts the VirtualBox Personal Use and Evaluation License. The second line allows compilation of the vboxdrv kernel module if no module was found for the current kernel. The third line allows the package to delete any old vboxdrv kernel modules compiled by previous installations.
These default settings can be applied with debconf-set-selections vboxconf
prior to the installation of the VirtualBox Debian package.

1.2.4 Starting VirtualBox on Linux
To start the VirtualBox graphical user interface, simply start the VirtualBox program.
To start the command line management interface for virtual machines, start VBox Manage. To start a single virtual machine from the command line, start VBoxSDL. The following chapters explain how to use these applications.

The following detailed instructions should only be of interest if you wish to execute VirtualBox without installing it first. You should start by compiling the vboxdrv kernel module (see above) and inserting it into the Linux kernel. VirtualBox consists of a service daemon (VBoxSVC) and several application programs. The daemon is automatically started if necessary. All VirtualBox applications will communicate with the daemon through Unix local domain sockets.

There can be multiple daemon instances under different user accounts and applications can only communicate with the daemon running under the user account as the application. The local domain socket resides in a subdirectory of your system’s directory for temporary files called .vbox--ipc. In case of communication problems or server startup problems, you may try to remove this directory.
All VirtualBox applications (VirtualBox, VBoxSDL, VBoxManage and VBoxVRDP) require the VirtualBox directory to be in the library path:
LD_LIBRARY_PATH=. ./VBoxManage showvminfo "Windows XP"

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About Hugo Repetto

Ubuntu is a Linux distribution that offers an operating system predominantly focused on desktop computers but also provides support for servers. Based on Debian GNU / Linux, Ubuntu focuses on ease of use, freedom in usage restriction, regular releases (every 6 months) and ease of installation.
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