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I've recently installed Ubuntu on Oracle's Virtualbox. Now I want to install the guest additions.

I started up my Ubuntu guest OS, clicked "Devices" and chose "Install Guest Additions". Nothing happened, and I don't see the CD icon on my desktop.

How can I make this work?

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10 Answers 10

up vote 173 down vote accepted

If you have trouble installing Ubuntu in a VirtualBox VM, because the installer window does not fit the low resolution screen size, you can move the window with Alt+F7.

Installing Guest additions from the repositories

In case we have installed the OSE edition of Virtual Box from the repositories we can add the guest additions from the repositories (install virtualbox-guest-utils Install virtualbox-guest-utils in the guest). This will install guest additions matching the Virtual Box version as obtained from the repositories. It is not recommended to install these in newer releases of Virtual Box as obtained from the Oracle repository (see below).

Alternatively we can install the package virtualbox-guest-additions-iso Install virtualbox-guest-additions-iso in the host Ubuntu. The .iso file with an image of the OSE edition of the guest additions CD will install in the host directory /usr/share/virtualbox/VBoxGuestAdditions.iso. Mount this .iso file as a CD in your virtual machine's settings. In the guest you will then have access to a CD-ROM with the installer.

Installing Guest Additions from Virtual Box Manager

In case the Guest Additions fail to build we may have to install the Linux kernel headers (see How do I install kernel header files?) or build-essential Install build-essential tools in addition. It is also recommended to have dkms Install dkms installed (see below - Note 4).

Selecting Devices -> Install Guest Additions (or press Host+D from the Virtual Box Manager) the Guest Additions CD .iso will be loaded but not installed in your guest OS. To install we need to run the installer script VBoxLinuxAdditions.run as root or from the Autorun Prompt (see below),

GNOME classic

To install the Guest Additions we will have a CD icon on our desktop as soon as the virtual drive is mounted:

alt text

Next step is to run the autorun.sh script (as root) on this mounted CD either by opening the drive or by choosing "Open With Autorun Prompt" from the right-click context menu as depicted above. This will build and install the vbox kernel modules needed.


The guest additions is mounted as a virtual CD visible on the launcher:

enter image description here

In case the system is set up to autorun a CD it should just open the following autorun dialogue (if not select the CD symbol, choose open, then choose Open Autorun Prompt)

enter image description here

After having entered your credentials for root access the guest additions will build as seen from the terminal output:

enter image description here

Press Return to close the terminal.

Note 1
Guest Additions need a reboot of your guest OS to take effect.

Note 2
In some systems the Virtual Box Guest Additions CD icon may not be shown on the desktop, but will be accessible from the Places menu. If the CD still was not there you may have to manually add the VBoxGuestAdditions.iso as a CD-ROM in the Virtual Box Manager Storage menu. In an Ubuntu host the disk image is in /usr/share/virtualbox/VBoxGuestAdditions.iso.

Note 3
In some systems (e.g. when running Xubuntu guests) we may not have an Autorun Prompt for the mounted CD. Then we can install the guest additions by opening a terminal on the mounted guest additions .iso to run sudo ./VBoxLinuxAdditions.run. In Lubuntu guests we additionally need to install the GNU C compiler (gcc Install gcc) and the make Install make utility in the guest system to be able to compile the guest additions.

Note 4
Running DKMS in the guest OS will keep Guest Additions installed after a guest kernel update. It is not a prerequisite for Guest Additions but if used it should be installed before we install the Guest Additions.

Installing Guest Additions from a Terminal

In case Guest Additions are not installed properly we may not be able to boot to the GUI. In this case we need to boot holding the Shift key to access the Grub menu where we access a root shell as depicted in the following question (we do need to mount the filesystem read/write to proceed):

The Guest Additions .iso file needs to be installed on /dev/cdrom from the Virtual Box Manager (see above). We then may install Guest Additions by typing the following commands:

mount /dev/cdrom /mnt              # or any other mountpoint
cd /mnt

Remove Guest Additions

In case something went wrong with installing the guest additions, or the guest OS can not boot after installing we may have to remove the additions. This can be done by running an uninstallation script located in the guest /opt directory.

cd /opt/<VirtualBoxAdditions-x.x.xx>/
sudo ./uninstall.sh

Replace x.x.xx with your current version of guest additions.

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I came across this answer while trying to install Guest Additions on Ubuntu Server. One step is missing if you need to install on server: run sudo apt-get install dkms first. (ref virtualbox.org/manual/ch04.html#idp19765808) –  Charles Roper May 23 '12 at 7:30
I tried your solution for ubuntu 12.10 server as guest and mac os x as host. Virtual box is 4.2.6. I am unable to to get the shared folders to work. somehow the guest additions are not working. Even Devices > Install Guest Additions did not work too. Not even the package virtualbox-guest-additions helped. Every attempt to run the iso GuestAdditions.iso does NOT lead to the iso showing up under /media/cdrom. Please advise. –  Kim Stacks Jan 3 '13 at 10:43
@kimsia: you need to mount the .iso in your server first. After that you can install the GA with sudo ./<mountpoint>/VBoxLinuxAdditions.run –  Takkat Jan 3 '13 at 11:16
@Takkat the mounting cannot work at all. In other news, i finally found a way to make everything work.superuser.com/a/527508/8184 so thank you for answering me. Appreciate it greatly :) –  Kim Stacks Jan 3 '13 at 11:21
@kimisa: please note that the method you linked to will not install the most recent guest addition but those available from Ubuntu repositories (which would be 4.1.18 for 12.10 and 4.1.22 for 13.04). In case your host Virtual Box release is newer it is not recommended to run older versions of Guest Additions (but they will mostly still work). –  Takkat Jan 3 '13 at 11:31

You could also try the following (this worked for me after I had to reinstall the Guest Addtitions after Update Manager killed them). Solution found here:


In summary:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install build-essential linux-headers-$(uname -r)
sudo apt-get install virtualbox-ose-guest-x11

This found and updated the correct version of the VirtualBox Guest Additions and my system seems to work properly again, and I'm assuming this will also work if Guest Additions are failing to install from the menu item.

One other thing of note. I originally tried to run this under the fish shell - make sure you're using bash (i.e. type "bash" into the terminal before you start).

Note on more recent systems, the command has been changed to

sudo apt-get install virtualbox-guest-x11
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your answer helped even though i was installing in a fresh installation ubuntu server. thank you. superuser.com/questions/527507/… –  Kim Stacks Jan 3 '13 at 11:05
The package is called virtualbox-guest-x11 on more recent systems. I think this should be the accepted answer, because guest additions from ISO might not auto-update, in contrast to those installed using apt-get. –  krlmlr Jan 21 '14 at 12:33
Note that I didn't have to install build-essentials on a freshly installed 14.04, and linux-headers were already installed. So running sudo apt-get install virtualbox-guest-x11 on the guest system was all I had to do. –  pcworld Apr 25 '14 at 13:19
I liked to use this method for the mentioned reason. However, it didn't work for me on OSX host (10.9.3) and Ubuntu 12.04 guest on VirtualBox (4.3.12). I had to use ISO installation askubuntu.com/a/22745/24203 (otherwise got not such device error stackoverflow.com/questions/3492466/…) –  IsaacS Jun 8 '14 at 23:14
Ok this worked for me. ubuntu 32 and 64 versions 14.04 –  Kangarooo Jul 24 '14 at 22:54

The standard "virtualbox-guest-additions" package on the .iso provided by Oracle, has general tools for different Guest Operating Systems...

However, Ubuntu has its own dedicated Ubuntu-specific Guest Addon package(s)...
named virtualbox-ose-guest-dkms and ..-x11 and ..-utils .

These 'virtualbox-ose-guest-*' packages are DKMS aware.. "(DKMS is a framework designed to allow individual kernel modules to be upgraded without changing the whole kernel.)"

Here is the link to a question I asked 5-6 months ago on this issue... How can I get Compiz to work in a VirtualBox VM

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I get "Unable to locate package virtualbox-ose-guest-dkms". Do I need to add an apt repo? –  Dan Dascalescu Dec 1 '14 at 8:25
I think all you need to install on newer Ubuntus is the package virtualbox-guest-x11, which will draw in any other required dependencies. –  Lambart Dec 11 '14 at 22:45

The virtualbox-guest-additions package has to be installed. Furthermore, it may appear that nothing has happened, but all the "Install Guest Additions" button do is mounting the cdrom. You should open the File manager (Nautilus / Dolphin), select the "CD device" and run the installer.

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Within the guest operating system, install the package virtualbox-guest-dkms. For example, using the Terminal application, type sudo apt-get install virtualbox-guest-dkms.

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Here are the steps I ran which finally worked, but as user named 'pcworld' stated above it may have been the case that only the last command was actually required. I'll never know, but I want to share in case this helps anyone else:

sudo apt-get install virtualbox-guest-additions-iso
sudo apt-get update 
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo apt-get install virtualbox-guest-x11

And don't forget to set your VirtualBox instance to use like 128MB video ram and Enable 3D Acceleration under the "Display" settings section for your instance, for good performance.

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This worked for me for a Ubuntu Server 14.04 guest VM (no GUI):

1) Install dkms. From the guest run:

sudo apt-get install dkms

2) From the VirtualBox VM window menu select: Devices --> Insert Guest Additions CD image...

3) Use blkid to identify the CD-ROM device. From the guest run:

sudo blkid

One of the lines in the output should look like this:

/dev/sr0: LABEL="VBOXADDITIONS_4.3.16_95972" TYPE="iso9660"

The first part (/dev/sr0) is the name of the CD-ROM device.

4) Mount the CD (replace /dev/sr0 by the device name found above):

sudo mount /dev/sr0 /media/cdrom/

5) Run the Guest Additions installer:

sudo /media/cdrom/VBoxLinuxAdditions.run

6) Reboot the guest.

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In VirtualBox, under Machine -> Settings -> Advanced, make sure that Shared Clipboard is enabled or set to bidirectional.

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While this may be helpful, it doesn't help the OP with his issue –  Lars Nordin Jun 27 '14 at 12:07

If you have the guest additions .iso, mount it in virtualbox via the guest os settings. Then start the guest os and run the vboxwindowsadditions-x86 or amd64 exe.

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Open Ubuntu in VirtualBox. Open FireFox and go here:

Find your version of Virtualbox and click the link to open it.

Download your version of VBoxGuestAdditions (iso):

Open it in Archive manager and extract files.

Run: sudo VBoxLinuxAdditions.run


This works if you can't open the iso file in VirtualBox (ISO9660 error).

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