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

3 Answers 3


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.

  • 1
    @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
    Commented May 16, 2012 at 4:08
  • 1
    Couldn't get this to work with a Windows host
    – OlliM
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 12:39
  • 3
    This solution helped. The only thing you mustn't forget is to change SHARE_NAME to your actual share name
    – n1313
    Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 16:28
  • 2
    Restarting VBox GUI is also important
    – Jayesh
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 16:23
  • 5
    Tried this on Windows, afterward got "protocol error" when creating links. Running VirtualBox as admin seems to have resolved it.
    – Tahlor
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 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 ;-)

  • 1
    running as administrator worked Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 10:33
  • 1
    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. Commented Nov 21, 2019 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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