A few days ago I found I can no longer create symlinks from Ubuntu in any directories that are shared with the OS X host.

ln: creating symbolic link `foo': Read-only file system

I'm able to create symlinks in non-shared folders and on OS X directly. I've also tried running disk repair, but no errors were found.


  • OS X 10.6.6
  • Ubuntu server 11.04
  • Virtualbox 4.1.8

Another workaround is to run the following command on your host:

VBoxManage setextradata VM_NAME VBoxInternal2/SharedFoldersEnableSymlinksCreate/SHARE_NAME 1

Or on Windows

VBoxManage.exe setextradata VM_NAME VBoxInternal2/SharedFoldersEnableSymlinksCreate/SHARE_NAME 1

where VM_NAME is the name of your virtual machine (e.g Ubuntu) and SHARE_NAME the name of your shared directory (without the "sf_" prefix).

This will re-enable the previous symlink friendly behavior.

Note: On Windows, always restart the Virtual Machine AND VirtualBox GUI.

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  • How do you run that on a Windows host? – Chris Pratt May 2 '12 at 18:40
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    @Chris, VBoxManage is located in the Program Files directory (e.g. C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\VBoxManage.exe). That said, I have not been able to get the solution to work for me yet when hosting on windows (details at virtualbox.org/ticket/10085#comment:16). – studgeek May 16 '12 at 4:08
  • @schisamo can you confirm this actually worked for you on Windows/NTFS? I (and others) still get "read only file-system" as I describe in the ticket at virtualbox.org/ticket/10085#comment:16. – studgeek Jun 14 '12 at 20:19
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    This solution helped. The only thing you mustn't forget is to change SHARE_NAME to your actual share name – n1313 Oct 3 '12 at 16:28
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    Tried this on Windows, afterward got "protocol error" when creating links. Running VirtualBox as admin seems to have resolved it. – Tahlor Sep 18 '17 at 18:21

On a windows host - run the virtual machine instance as an Administrator. I found this solved the problem.

-- I tried @schisamo's suggestion first - it may be necessary to do both. Apologies I would have added this as a comment but I'm so rep-poor I can't even comment ;-)

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  • running as administrator worked – Marian Zburlea Aug 13 '19 at 10:33
  • The combined solution worked for me. Host OS : Windows 10 64 bit , VirtualBox version: 6.0, Guest OS : Ubuntu Xenial . So, I ran the command as given in the accepted answer from my Windows host : "C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\VBoxManage.exe" setextradata net1mc1 VBoxInternal2/SharedFoldersEnableSymlinksCreate/shared3 1. shared3 is the name of the shared folder given while creating the share. Then, I restarted VirtualBox as Admin user, and restarted the VM too. After this, I was able to create symbolic links from the guest OS's shared directory. – Binita Bharati Nov 21 '19 at 5:28

This appears to be a bug in VirtualBox 4.1.8. Some people report that downgrading to 4.1.6 resolves the issue. See https://www.virtualbox.org/ticket/10085

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