I was using 13.04 as a guest OS on my VirtualBox 14.2.18. Host is Windows 8.

After upgrade to 13.10 Ubuntu does not start. I can see a black screen and blinking cursor.

I am pretty new to Ubuntu. I suspect a problem with graphics drivers. I can access tty and all files (/home) are there.

19 Answers 19


I had this problem and my solution was simple.

Somehow, my VirtualBox configuration for the VM (Ubuntu) was changed after a VirtualBox upgrade. My guest VM was Ubuntu 64 bits and it was configured as 32-bit version. To change:

  1. Open VirtualBox
  2. Select your virtual machine and click on Configurations
  3. Go to General
  4. Change the version to Ubuntu (64-bit)
  • 2
    Happened to me after transferring machine files to another machine and re-installing virtual box. This fixed my problem.
    – Orestis P.
    Jun 10, 2016 at 5:42
  • 1
    This really was the right hint for me, to go to the bios and enable Virtualisation. Kudos Mar 16, 2017 at 9:38

This is how I troubleshoot a non-starting Ubuntu in Virtual Box (assuming optimal settings for a virtual machine were already made):

  1. Make sure you had installed the most recent version of Virtual Box.
  2. Try a reboot by entering a TTY terminal (Host + F1)

    sudo reboot
  3. Update the guest OS from TTY (Host + F1):

    sudo apt update && sudo apt dist-upgrade
  4. Install guest additions from command line.

  5. Reboot the guest after installing the guest additions.
  6. Start lightdm manually from a TTY (Host + F1) with

    sudo lightdm
  7. Try several reboots of the VM. Due to timing issues it may help eventually.

  8. Try a reboot of the host.
  9. Check forums and virtualbox.org for known bugs.
  • I've updated VIrtualBox to 4.3.2 and installed additions. Now I see login page from ubuntu. After typing password it shows black screen with popup: "System program problem detected. Do you want to report a problem now?" after pressing Report problem 4 times nothing happens. Black screen is there.
    – don
    Nov 5, 2013 at 15:31
  • This message is seen on bare metal too - its bugs which may hopefully be fixed sooner or later. Until then your VM may still need occasional reboots, or manual starts of lightdm from TTY. Not much we can do.
    – Takkat
    Nov 5, 2013 at 15:37
  • is there any way to downgrade or migrate my data from this installation to another?
    – don
    Nov 5, 2013 at 15:56
  • Downgrade is not recommended. But you could copy & paste your HOME to restore it elsewhere. However I am pretty confident it will be much more stable soon.
    – Takkat
    Nov 5, 2013 at 18:43
  • 2
    Already solved my issue by Step 2 - thank you!
    – Nick Coad
    Jun 20, 2016 at 8:49

For me, none of the previous answers worked. I solved this problem by disabling 3d acceleration on the vm settings page. This is quite odd since I've been using 3D acceleration flawlessly for months on that VM.

  • 1
    I resolved the issue in the same way. It appeared after I installed Docker Desktop. Jun 7, 2021 at 10:42
  • @SanjokGurung this worked for me too and it also started after installing Docker Desktop.
    – user199590
    Oct 1, 2021 at 6:24

When I got to the login screen, I turned fullscreen mode off, logged in, then turned it back on. It worked. I might have just been lucky, though.


This maybe an answer:

  1. You (and me) get to this screen through an (accidental) host+f9. It doesn't tell you what happened though.

  2. The reverse magic spell is alt+f7 (everything restored in its former glory).

I had to discover this myself. Though getting into trouble was easy enough.

  • You baited me to try host+f9 bu tthen the alt+f7 did not help. I'm not sure how I got out again
    – lucidbrot
    Sep 22, 2020 at 8:22

I had a similar problem, what I did was:

  1. Enter into Setting --> System --> Processor
  2. Set Processor to 2CPU instead of 1CPU
  3. Click OK and restart.

Worked fine for me after

  • I can confirmed this worked for Xubuntu 18.04 and running on VirtualBox 5.2 on an Ubuntu host. Sep 28, 2019 at 18:22

This happens to me today after upgrade VBox to 5.1.30. The logon screen looks normal. After login in, however, the screen becomes black and remain black, while VBox manager preview showing the desktop.

Tried various suggestions, the only thing that works is to disable 3D acceleration for guest OS (Linux Mint18).

Guest addition update has no effect.


I had the same issue installing Kali in VirtualBox, blinking cursors on the upper left corner. The simple solution for me was entering BIOS by pressing F10 during boot, and enabling virtualization.


I did the following as it worked for me.

  1. Open TTYL (Ctrl + Alt + F1)

  2. Login to a regular user account (not guest).

  3. Enter sudo dpkg --configure -a

  4. Press (Ctrl + F7)


Here is how I resolved the issue. I had installed Hadoop on my guest openSuse OS. There are several services which need to be started to start working on Hadoop like:


I added both the above start commands in my .bashrc file so that I don't have to start them explicitly every time I log in. .bashrc gets executed every time I log in.

cd ~
vi .bashrc

I commented my start service commands as shown below.

.bashrc file open in Vim

  • This is a bit confusing - why are the lines you mentioned you needed commented out?
    – Zanna
    Oct 22, 2020 at 13:35

I had a frozen black screen of the graphical interface with Ubuntu 18.04 VM running on VirtualBox 6.0, on Windows 8 host. Changing the Display > Graphics Controller to VMSVGA fixed it.

  • Changing from VBoxVGA, booting for the first time, then switching to VMSVGA or VBoxSVGA fixed it for me.
    – Unknow0059
    Oct 29, 2019 at 1:52

The following works for my Ubuntu 16.04 inside VirtualBox:

  1. Shutdown Ubuntu guest OS
  2. Go to Settings -> System -> Motherboard
  3. Change Chipset from ICH9 to PIIX3
  4. Restart Ubuntu and the graphics mode becomes normal

Strangely, ICH9 works fine until one day when I upgraded VirtualBox from 5.0.18 to 5.1.28.


Nothing worked, so I booted into recovery mode and selected the DPKG option (repair broken packages) and after that did it.

  • Are you saying that you had broken packages?
    – user535733
    Nov 20, 2017 at 16:10

I had the same issue with Linux Mint on VirtualBox 5.2.22.

I could see the boot screen but after boot it would go to a black screen and remain black.

My Base Memory was set at 512 MB. I bumped it to 1024 MB and it got past boot and into the desktop.


Try disabling hyper-v - Worked for me in Windows 10

bcdedit /set hypervisorlaunchtype off

When trying to boot Ubuntu on in VirtualBox I had a black screen until I went into Settings > System and unchecked enable EFI.

Ubuntu booted up successfully after I did that.


The following worked for me with Lubuntu 18.04:

  1. Shut down virtual machine
  2. Go to Settings > Display
  3. Increase video RAM size
  4. Start virtual machine again

For me, the screen was maximized. I just restored it to small screen size and then reboot the VM. After login, the black screen issue is gone, and I can maximize the screen back to normal.


My Hardware Platform:

  • System Model: DELL Latitude E6420
  • Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-2640M CPU @ 2.80GHz, 2801 Mhz, 2 Core(s),
  • 4 Logical Processor(s)
  • Installed Physical Memory (RAM): 16.0 GB
  • System Type: x64-based PC

My Software Platform:

  • Microsoft Windows 10 Professional (10.0.18362) as Host
  • Oracle VM VirtualBox (6.1) as a Virtual Machine Container
  • Ubuntu Linux (20.04) as a Virtual Machine (VM)
  • VDI Dynamic Hard Disk with 20 GB upgraded to 100 GB as the solution
  • Android Studio (Artic Fox | 2020.3.1) Gradle (7.0.2 and 7.2)

My Similar Issue:

I experienced booting to a black screen with a blinking or frozen cursor just after downloading and then attempting to install software, in my case two versions of Gradle (7.0.2 and 7.2) for Android Studio (Artic Fox | 2020.3.1) running Ubuntu Linux (20.04) in VirtualBox (6.1) as a Virtual Machine within Microsoft Windows 10 Professional (10.0.18362). I had last downloaded two container files, 'gradle-7.0.2-all.zip' and 'gradle-7.2-all.zip' from the Gradle distribution website. I used a terminal screen to unzip and install these two distributions.

My Analysis:

My initial impression was that my VM was ready for the recycle bin. I learned a good lesson here in that setting up snaphots or VM directory backup periodically is very important. I focused on my immediate last actions which had to do with installing software and having low disk space available. My focus remained on disk space limitations as the real problem which turned out to be correct path to solve the problem.

My Comments / Side Notes: I had earlier downloaded and installed the same Gradle versions on the Windows Host OS. It was not clear to me whether the Gradle distributions, zip file containers, were platform specific or not. I downloaded these also to my Windows Host which I believe can also be used on the Ubuntu 20.04 VM. I copied one of the Gradle zip files from the Host to the VM to save downloading data. Gradle was new to me, so I was very concerned about installation issues. As I understand it, it turns out that the same files can be installed on either platform. I originally thought this problem issue might have been tied to my black screen problem by possibly having the wrong binaries loaded.*

My Solution:

1.) I discovered that Ubuntu 20.04 had a boot-up recovery mode. This allowed me to get to the VHD and delete the Gradle directories I had just installed to gain and recover disk space.

2.) I rebooted my computer and the black screen with the hanging cursor was eliminated. I was very happy at this point. Note: This would be a good point to make a snapshot of your VM, like a restore point in Windows.

3.) I reviewed the information about my dynamic virtual hard disk (*.vdi) by going to Oracle VirtualBox 6.1 | Settings | Storage | Controller: SATA. I found information about the "Virtual Size" limit and the "Actual Size" consumed by my VM.

4.) I found that VirtualBox 6.1 | Virtual Media Manager allows the user to graphically increase the "Virtual Size" limit of the virtual drive, like buying a new higher capacity hard drive which I modified when the Ubuntu VM was off, not running. Optionally, there is a command line option to increase the "Virtual Size" of the drive.

Important Notes: Setting the Virtual Size to 100 GB in the GUI will be equivalent to setting the 102400 MB in the Terminal mode. Shrinking the size of a drive is not currently permitting or supported. You will receive an error if you accidently try to shrink the size of the virtual drive. So, you can go up; but you cannot go down. So, you should consider that when increasing the "Virtual Size" of the virtual hard disk. This work alone does not solve the virtual hard disk space problem.

Comments: Consider the Windows Host box and physical drives where you have a physical drive of a certain size or capacity and partitions within that drive, like Primary Partitions, or creating an Extended Partition to a particular Primary Partition containing possible Logical Partitions within it; the collective/aggregate size of all the Partitions cannot exceed the maximum size or capacity of the drive, in our case the capacity of a Virtual Drive. So, you have to increase the "Virtual Size" of the drive first, like buying a new higher capacity hard drive at the store where you could clone the old drive to the new one of higher capacity and then stretch the "Actual Size" of the existing partition up to the maximum size or capacity ("Virtual Size") of the new Virtual Drive. "Virtual Size" limit represents the maximum size or capacity of the virtual drive or hard disk. So, additional work remains to be done.

  1. I then downloaded the GNOME Partition Editor, an ISO file. There is a 32-bit and 64-bit ISO file version available.

  2. I mounted the ISO from VirtualBox and Windows 10 when the VM is not running.

  3. I Backed up my VirtualBox folder in Windows 10. IMPORTANT

  4. Required: This process requires that all VM snapshots be deleted before enlarging the "Actual Size" (partition) of the virtual drive to increase and likely match the virtual size capacity ("Virtual Size"), of the new drive.

  5. Using the mounted ISO file, I booted into GNOME Partition Editor.

  6. I successfully increased the size of the old partition to match the new capacity and "Virtual Size" of the drive set earlier in the GUI of VirtualBox.

  7. I performed a normal shutdown of the VM.

  8. I dismounted the ISO boot file for the GNOME Partition Editor.

  9. I restarted the Ubuntu 20.04 virtual VM and the solution to my problem was complete.

  10. I then reloaded the two versions of Gradle. I then performed software updates to my computer for Ubuntu 20.04.

Solution References:

1.) VDI: Oracle's Default Disk Format Used by Virtual Box https://www.google.com/search?channel=fs&client=ubuntu&q=vdi+hard+disk+format

2.) How to Boot to Recovery Mode (Safe Mode) in Ubuntu Important https://www.google.com/search?q=boot+up+recovery+mode+in+Ubunta+20.04&oq=boot+up+recovery+mode+in+Ubunta+20.04&aqs=chrome..69i57j33i10i22i29i30.18691j0j15&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

3.) Partitioning Hard Drives https://www.diskpart.com/resource/disk-partition-basic-understanding.html

4.) GNOME Partition Editor Important https://gparted.org/download.php

5.) How to Increase Disk Size of Your Existing Virtual Machines in VirtualBox

https://itsfoss.com/increase-disk-size-virtualbox/ Important Notes: This shows the GUI approach and the Terminal Command Line approach to increasing the "Virtual Size" of the drive.

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