As I understand VirtualBox Guest Additions can be installed via command line as:

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

Although there seems to be differences of opinion about what exactly is to be installed but my understanding is that these are the necessary and sufficient components. Different advice here, here, here, here, here and here and pretty much everywhere.

However this seem to install version 4.3.36.

This way Unity 3D is not supported which causes lagging. This can be verified by the following command:

/usr/lib/nux/unity_support_test -p

(For the record I went through all other recommendation to make it work such as this and that which include allocating more VRAM, enabling 3D acceleration in VirtualBox, etc.)

Via the Oracle iso file version 5.1.18 is installed. With that Unity 3D works fine. I also understand that these packages are different as the iso is shipped by Oracle and the ones installed via command line are shipped by Ubuntu but in most threads they are treated as if they were the same.

So my questions:

What is the difference if any between these packages?

How can I install the latest version via command line? || How can I install a version that supports Unity 3D?

Currently using Ubuntu 14.04 and Virtual 5.1.18 but experienced this on many other setups as well.

  • You really shouldn't be using a 3D desktop environment in a VM. There's a reason why even VMware doesn't support Unity. Just install XFCE and you'll get a much better experience. Mar 27, 2017 at 19:49

1 Answer 1


The only appropriate guest additions running the most recent fully updated Virtual Box is those you get with the package from the Oracle repositories. The versions we can install from the Ubuntu repositories only meets those of the Virtual Box release version provided there. These usually are many versions behind (14.04 ships 4.3.36, 16.10 ships 5.1.16).

Depending on how you had installed Virtual Box the guest additions CD ISO image will be in /usr/share/virtualbox/VBoxGuestAdditions.iso or in /opt/virtualbox/VBoxGuestAdditions.iso. Usually you can mount this CD by selecting Devices > Insert Guest Additions CD image from the graphical VirtualBox Manager interface or using VBoxManage storageattach (see manual for details on syntax).

The guest additions will install in the guest after running the installer from the mounted CD in the guest either by auto-run or in a terminal afte cd to the mountpoint:

sudo ./VBoxLinuxAdditions.run

After that the Virtual Box graphic driver will make use of the host GPU for 3D graphic acceleration and Unity will be fully supported if the host graphics driver is capable of providing the hardware acceleration needed.

Often newer Ubuntu releases also need a new release of Virtual Box for installing as a guest. Therefore we can not install Ubuntu 16.10 as a guset in a VirtualBox 4.3. from Ubuntu 14.04 host.

  • I know about the iso but wanted to avoid that solution. Is there a way to get the version that is shipped for 16.10 from 14.04? Mar 27, 2017 at 23:48
  • @thisismydesign: the version specific additions ISO is always shipped with virtualbox. Check in the directories I mentioned above.
    – Takkat
    Mar 28, 2017 at 6:00

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