Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

Getting VirtualBox 2.02 working on Ubuntu 8.04

10th October 2008

Seamless VirtualBox VM Application Windows on Ubuntu

Having run VirtualBox OSE (1.5.6) for a while now, I succumbed to the idea of grabbing the latest version from the VirtualBox website and putting it on my main Linux box. The idea of having 64-bit support proved irresistible and I did get OpenSolaris to start, even if its being a VMware VM meant that it stalled along the way.

To accomplish this, I needed to rid my system of all traces of the old version before 2.02 would install, with a system reboot being needed before the process of installation fully completed. Then, I fired up a Windows XP virtual machine only for it to completely freeze. The hint as to the cause came when I opened up the VM’s settings for the following message to greet me:

Could not load the Host USB Proxy Service (VERR_FILE_NOT_FOUND). The service might be not installed on the host computer.

While it didn’t stop things in their tracks when it came to accessing and changing those settings, it was a vital hint for working out what was happening. It now seems that a problem with USB port support was the cause. The fact that issuing the following command got things going for me appeared to confirm the prognosis.

sudo  mount -t usbfs /sys/bus/usb /proc/bus/usb/

Of course, not wanting to have to issue the same command over and over again, I was after a more permanent solution. That involved adding the following lines to /etc/fstab:


none /proc/bus/usb usbfs devgid=46,devmode=664 0 0

A reboot later, that change apparently was enough to settle the matter and I am now able to run VM’s as before. Seamless application mode is going well (the host key -- right Ctrl by default -- + L key combination is sufficient to toggle the setting on and off), even if it has a few quirks. Two that I have spotted include the usual Ubuntu screen furniture disappearing when maximised windows are displayed and the Windows taskbar appearing when two or more applications are running. That last one may be just as well because individual applications don’t get an Ubuntu taskbar icon each, which is perhaps an idea for a future enhancement. Updating Guest Additions in a VM’s doesn’t seem to change the behaviour, but any imperfections are curiosities rather than complaints given how well things run anyway, unless you decide to confound matters by closing and minimising windows, but resolving that is just a toggle away. It’s all looking good so far…


  • Paolo says:

    Thanks for the trick. However I had a minor problem.

    Remember to use the correct gid for the device. Supposing that the group to run virtual machines is called vboxusers, obtain the group id with cat /etc/group | grep vboxusers | cut -d: -f3 and instead of 46 use the output of this command.

    This is my line:
    none /proc/bus/usb usbfs devgid=124,devmode=664 0 0

  • John says:

    Thanks for passing this on. I never noticed any problem so never delved any further…

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