I'm running VirtualBox headless server on an Ubuntu 64 bit host, and I want to use it remotely. However, I'm having problems connecting via RDP. The DNS names in my network show the host to be 'server', and the guest to be 'ubuntu-vm'.

From the official documentation, I gather that I am to connect to server on the default RDP port in order to see the guest machine. I start the virtual machine like so:

vboxheadless -startvm My_VM

Then I connect on my laptop, and I get...

rdesktop -a 16 server
ERROR: server: unable to connect

So next I consult the documentation further, and I find there are RDP flags that can be turned on (but should be on implicitly for a headless server). So I pull up information using 'vboxmanage showvminfo My_VM', and I find the VRDP property is off.

VRDP Connection:    not active

To make things even weirder, RDP flag seems to be missing from vboxmanage. I've installed straight from the ubuntu repo's using the virutalbox-ose package, not sure how that measures up against the official docs.

For instance, this command doesn't exist:

VBoxManage modifyvm My_VM --vrdp on

From the UI, the VM's Settings regarding Display have greyed out the 'remote Display' option.

What I'm looking for is advice :). I'm open to suggestions that don't involve starting again with something like VMWare.

Thanks in advance!


As of VirtualBox version 4, the RDP support has been moved to an Extension Pack, which you install in an existing VirtualBox installation. The Extension Pack, which is distributed only in binary form, is available commercially, as well as at no cost under personal use and evaluation licenses.


If you're using the Ubuntu supplied VirtualBox package, then you're using the Open Source Edition (OSE). This edition lacks RDP support as well as USB and USB over RDP support.

If you need RDP, then you need to download the non-OSE binary package from the VirtualBox website.

http://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Editions explains the different editions more fully.

http://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Linux_Downloads has deb files for download and links to repositories for easier upgrading of VirtualBox.

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