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Originally it was the case that Unity could not run in tools like Virtualbox.

How can I now do so?

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I've installed the pre-release of guest additions and Unity is working fine. – user14617 Apr 20 '11 at 3:12
up vote 27 down vote accepted

In VirtualBox >= 4.0 Unity is supported and runs nice when Guest Additions are installed.

XServer 1.10 from 11.04 is supported in Virtual Box >= 4.0.6 when Guest Additions are installed.

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For people that find this via google.. install guest additions. Check box to enable 3D graphics in VM Settings, and try upping the amount of Video RAM. – Brian Mar 1 '11 at 21:52
is it working at the moment? Right now it claims to not find the (installed) kernel headers and is then unable to load vboxvideo. Xorg.0.log says because of wrong ABI version (9 vs 10). – turbo Mar 21 '11 at 21:12
Virtual Box (at present 4.1.2) runs 11.10 with Unity2D when GA are not installed or when the host GPU does not fully support the virtualized 3D functions. – Takkat Aug 21 '11 at 9:26

Unity has 3D requirements above and beyond Compiz itself.

On top of the 3D required by compiz, which is supported by Virtualbox's 3D support, Unity also requires the OpenGL Frame buffer object extension, which is not supported by Virtualbox's 3D drivers. Wikipedia has a good article on FBO too.)

Bug report:

However this appears to be fixed in the new release of Virtualbox

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There is also a ppa for Unity in 2d. It's how I set up my own VM:

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Since this question asks about tools like VirtualBox, I can confirm that Unity runs on VMware Player 4.0 and beyond.

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