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Apparently some distributions do not run smoothly in VirtualBox. For example I installed Fedora 11 and I couldn't configure monitor's screen resolution to more than 800x600.

What distribution run without problems in VirtualBox and which should be avoided? Which is the best one with regards to performance?

UPDATE: Can you explain what are the VirtualBox's Guest Additions.

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If you googled about this problem, you will find that the guest additions are custom modules that need to be built for your virtual OS so that it can interact with VirtualBox. This includes custom video drivers and also a custom file-system module. – sybreon Jul 24 '09 at 15:14

10 Answers 10

up vote 12 down vote accepted

'Guest Additions' is a bundle of support tools and drivers that allows VirtualBox to interface directly with the OS to enable certain features, such as automatic mouse-out and accelerated graphics.

I've not had an issue with Linux on VirtualBox, and I've tried a half dozen different distributions including Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian and CentOS.


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And which one did you consider to be your choice? – cmserv Jul 14 '09 at 8:59
Well Fedora would probably be my distro of choice at the moment, but that may well be due to my familiarity with CentOS. I won't go into the vast number of factors involved in choosing a distro for yourself in this comment, but suffice it to say that given the ease of installing a distro in a VM, my suggestion would be to install as many of the more well known ones as you like, and see which tickles your fancy. For many of us, choosing a Linux distro is a very personal thing, I stongly encourage you to make your own choice based on your own experiences. (sorry for long comment) – Ehtyar Jul 14 '09 at 11:50
+1 you need to install those guest additions – sybreon Jul 24 '09 at 15:13

I've got Ubuntu 9.04 and Fedora 11 successfully running in VirtualBox (Windows 7, too, by the way).

They refer to the tools/drivers that enable higher resolution, copy/paste, etc., as "Guest Additions". Once you've installed the client OS, you mount the ISO image that contains the Additions and install them from within the client.

By the way, this page has some information about client compatibility.

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Okay, I didn't install any "additions". Do you know from where to get them(let's say fedora 11)? – cmserv Jul 13 '09 at 20:04
Maybe this can be a place to start:… – cmserv Jul 13 '09 at 20:06
I have used Kubuntu for some time and it has worked fantastically. – Qwerty Jul 14 '09 at 4:12
@cmserv I would also suggest you read the section on installing the guest additions in the VirtualBox user manual. It describes the process step by step for the various linux variants. Basically you need to call the additions installer using sh. – BinaryMisfit Jul 14 '09 at 8:05
Installed them and Fedora 11 works nicely. See… for installation. – cmserv Jul 14 '09 at 9:01

I've successfully used both Ubuntu and openSUSE without any problem. All features including desktop scaling and battery monitoring work correctly once the client tools are installed.

Are you sure you installed the client tools on your Fedora VM?

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I think Ubuntu runs a bit slowly in VirtualBox. I will try it anyway and see how it runs. As for openSUSE I find it a bit large. It is delivered on a 4GB large image. – cmserv Jul 13 '09 at 19:51
With Fedora I didn't install any client tools. Can you be more specific on what tools you're referring to ? – cmserv Jul 13 '09 at 19:52
As Dennis mentioned, it's the "Guest Additions". They're installable from one of the menus in the VirtualBox GUI. – Kamil Kisiel Jul 13 '09 at 21:12

I had great success with Arch Linux. Because you build it up with just what you need you can keep it really small and fast, which is ideal for in a VM.

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I had issues with Arch Linux in VirtualBox because it uses rather new kernels. But as soon as a new version of VirtualBox is released, everything goes well. – Anonymous Nov 24 '09 at 6:26

What do you mean by smoothly? Are there any issues that aren't solved by adding the VirtualBox client tools? What other distributions have you had a problem with?

I haven't run into any issues on the client side using many new and older versions of many distributions of linux.

Side note: On the server side the newest Ubuntu Karmic kernel has issues with NMI. This can be solved with an alternate kernel for now (currently Karmic is an alpha release). Other distros with 2.6.30+ kernels don't have the bug.

Treat Virtuals as you would remote machines. There are many choices.

Text mode for virtuals if possibly, lamp servers, etc.. No X installed on virtual. If tuned well this will give maximum performance.

Run X apps over virtual network, still no X on virtuals.

Use seamless mode, launch over RDP using scripts/menu entries and use the lightest window manager possibly (enter argument over which is the better light-weight window manager)

Use light-weight window manager for virtuals like Openbox, IceWM, Windowmaker or even LXDE, XFCE, Flux, etc..

Use an NX client and nx server like Google's neatx. More applicable to remote virtual access.

Use all the same performance tuning tips you would use for an linux audio workstation or older hardware running linux. In the virtual client, disable or turn off auto-everything; dhcp, zeroconf, hal hardware detection, cups printing service, bluetooth, acpi, pulse, etc..

As stated above, building up rather than installing a "desktop" distribution is the best. In the next few years, perhaps even now, you should be able to use an appliance or cloud distribution like Ubuntu's JEOS or Fedora's AOS, etc.. (They're not ready yet, IMHO. Great ideas, looking forward to improvements in them.)

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I have tried many flavors of Linux as Virtual Box Guests. Recently my favorite is the Lubuntu 12.04 respin of Ubuntu that runs LXDE as the window manager. It has a very low memory profile, doesn't require 3D rendering, and has access to all the Ubuntu repositories.

LXDE has a few quirks compared to Unity and Gnome but I value the the small overhead.

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I tried Xubuntu since I wanted a lightweight, yet full-featured distro. It works really well using VirtualBox. I would highly recommend it, or any in the Ubuntu family.

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I got Puppy Linux up and running quite easily in VirtualBox - performance was quite snappy too.

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Sometimes, if you have a computer with a CPU that wont support virtualization you are not able to assign more than one CPU to a VM and so performance will be sluggish.

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The only linux distro I have got to run perfect on VBOX is Mandriva. Not only is the res perfect with no changes needed It can take a monitor and intigrate with windows as in mouse and keyboard without having to use right ctrl all the time.

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