I created a 64-bit ubuntu 16.04.3 guest VM on a Windows 7 Pro 64-bit host using Oracle VirtualBox 4.3.12. (Ubuntu VMs won't even start in later versions of VirtualBox.)

However the new VM only has a max screen size of 1024 x 768 compared to my 1920 x 1080 screen resolution. It's hard to work on a VM with such a small resolution.

I tried the following steps after the install to allow me to use a higher screen resolution, but none worked:

sudo apt-get update

Restarted VM as requested.

sudo apt-get install virtualbox-guest-dkms

Restarted VM.

sudo apt-get install virtualbox-guest-x11

This failed with unmet dependencies, including xserver-xorg-core, so I did:

sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-core
sudo apt-get install virtualbox-guest-x11

Restarted VM. But now the VM starts up in an even smaller resolution (800 x 600?) and when I mouse over it the cursor disappears! Also, keyboard input is now ignored.

Does anyone know (a) how I can interact with my VM again and (b) allow me to have a larger maximum screen resolution? I don't care whether the screen re-sizes automatically; I just want a larger resolution so my VM is usable.

EDIT This isn't a duplicate of How to install VirtualBox Guest Additions for Ubuntu 16.04 because that says to install the latest version of VirtualBox. Here's the error I get when I installed vbox 5.1.28 and try to start one of my ubuntu VMs:

enter image description here

AFAIK Where I work no-one's ever succeeded in running an ubuntu VM on a version of VirtualBox > 4.3.12. Possibly due to a clash with corporate antivirus software as the error implies. Also, I first need to be able to interact with my VM via mouse or keyboard before I can install Guest Additions.

  • I do not know about the mouse / keyboard issue, but once the vbox guest additoins are installed you resize the VM by dragging the corners like any other application, the resolution adjusts to window size. Not really a solution, but, FWIW, KVM + spice works very well as an alternate to vbox.
    – Panther
    Sep 22, 2017 at 13:37
  • In my case, dragging the corners simply enlarges the external window for Oracle VirtualBox. The inner window for the VM's display stays at a fixed size.
    – snark
    Sep 22, 2017 at 15:37
  • 1
    I would install the guest additions from the vbox .iso - askubuntu.com/questions/792832/… - Use the ACCEPTED ANSWER installing from the .iso NOT the ubuntu repositories.
    – Panther
    Sep 22, 2017 at 15:43
  • I'm sure I've tried the vbox .iso on previous VMs because that's the most obvious thing to do. The answer at askubuntu.com/a/792833/103266 is no good because the VM won't even start if I install the latest version of VirtualBox. Everyone I know at work only uses VirtualBox 4.3.12 if they want to run ubuntu on Windows. I'm not sure why later versions don't work - some clash with the corporate antivirus tools or something.
    – snark
    Sep 22, 2017 at 15:56
  • 1
    If you install from the VBox .iso you can try - forums.virtualbox.org but you are almost certainly going to be advised to install the latest stable version of VBox.
    – Panther
    Sep 22, 2017 at 16:14

1 Answer 1


After installing xserver-xorg-core and virtualbox-guest-x11 to attempt to get shared clipboard working with virtual box, although this worked fine at first, upon rebooting I encountered this error where I could not control the machine at all.

To resolve I booted to recovery mode (hold Esc on boot) and ran:

apt-get remove virtualbox-guest-x11
apt-get remove xserver-xorg-core
apt-get install xorg

This returned me back to where I was to begin with.

  • 1
    dude.. you seriously saved my life. Reinstalling xorg got me working again. Thanks!
    – ScorpiAS
    Mar 22, 2020 at 12:17
  • only problem I had is installing xorg. But I could remove the other 2. I'll see where that gets me!
    – Luke Hill
    Sep 28, 2020 at 8:20

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