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I am using VirtualBox to run Ubuntu 12.04 as a guest in a Windows 7 host. I would like execute a command in Windows that will launch Ubuntu's Firefox. I tried VirtualBox's VBoxManage guestcontrol function. The command seems to do something, but nothing seems to happen in Ubuntu:

C:\VirtualBox>VBoxManage.exe guestcontrol MyVirtualMachineUbuntu exec --image "/usr/bin/firefox" --username bob --password password --wait-stdout --verbose
Waiting for guest to start process ...
Waiting for process to exit ...
Exit code=1 (Status=500 [successfully terminated])

The /usr/bin/firefox command works when I run it in Ubuntu. Also, with guestcontrol, I can successfully call /bin/ls. But I can't actually get a major program like Firefox to run. Any ideas? Thanks.

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Try it with --username instead of --user – Simplexion Dec 10 '12 at 1:21
@Simplexion: My script was using --username. I mistyped it when writing the AskUbuntu post. I've now fixed my post. Thanks. – SpaceRook Dec 10 '12 at 3:47
Could it be that it's not routed to the correct display?. Can you try: "DISPLAY=:0 /usr/bin/firefox"?. – Javier Rivera Dec 10 '12 at 8:21
@Javier Rivera: Thanks, your comment lead me to the correct solution. I had to add the --environment "DISPLAY=:0" parameter and now it works like a charm. If you want to formally answer this question, I will accept your answer. – SpaceRook Dec 13 '12 at 5:43
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Could it be that it's not routed to the correct display?

As you have found you can solve it using the --enviroment flag. The command should be:

VBoxManage.exe guestcontrol MyVirtualMachineUbuntu exec --image "/usr/bin/firefox" --username bob --password password --wait-stdout --verbose  --environment "DISPLAY=:0"
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