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I am running Windows XP as a virtual machine through VirtualBox on Ubuntu 11.10. I have some USB devices (namely a video grabber & Android phone) that aren't recognised by Ubuntu. Will they be recognised by Windows XP if it is running virtually?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Probably, yes. The USB-passthrough gives native-like access to USB devices to VMs.

In the past I've used VirtualBox to update the firmware on my old phone, the firmware on my mouse (it's a very shiny mouse) and update our Logitech Harmony remote. All things that aren't really possible through Ubuntu directly.

What I should point out is that the performance is not great all the time. It isn't a real passthrough (that's practically impossible as the hubs are all managed by Ubuntu) so there's a software layer in there that does slow things up. Pointedly for you, a video grabber may not work very well.

Note: I thought this didn't need saying but, just reading Frank's answer, it probably does... All this does require you to set up USB support correctly!

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We may also need the PUEL (closed source) extensions for USB 2.0 support. – Takkat Mar 15 '12 at 7:22

Yes, but.. You have to add your user account to the VBOXUSERS group.

Here is a quick rundown.

Once you do that (and reboot) your USB devices should appear when you click on the USB icon on the bottom status bar of your virtualbox window.

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My experience with VMWare on Windows is that VMWare installs a USB driver that essentially passes the USB device's communications directly through to the VM. So if I plugged in a USB wireless card, the Wireless card would disappear from the host's device list and be replaced with a "VMWare USB Device" and then it would appear in the guest's device manager.

YMMV with different VM software.

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