Sun has just released the major 2.2 update to their VirtualBox virtualization software. The most exciting new feature in this release is 3D acceleration for Linux guest operating systems! See the changelog for all the new features and fixes.

VirtualBox 2.2

Install VirtualBox
VirtualBox offers Ubuntu package downloads as well as a software repository from their Linux downloads page. Neither of these options have been updated for Ubuntu 9.04 yet, so I just downloaded and installed the 8.10 package for now.

Start VirtualBox from Applications->System Tools->Sun VirtualBox.

Install Guest Additions
Here’s how I installed the VirtualBox guest additions in an Ubuntu 9.04 guest. Start up your Ubuntu guest OS. In VirtualBox, click Devices->Install Guest Additions.

Click Run when the autorun prompt opens in the guest. The installation could take a minute while kernel modules are being built. When it’s finished, the installer should prompt you to reboot the guest.

Shared Folders
I wanted to copy some files into my Ubuntu 9.04 virtual machine using VirtualBox’s shared folders feature. It isn’t obvious how to do this, and a bug also complicates things.

Set up a shared folder in VirtualBox and make sure you have the guest additions installed in your guest. In the guest, open a terminal and use this command to mount the share:
sudo mount -t vboxsf shared_folder_name mount_point

If this gives you a protocol error message, you’ll need to get a root prompt to work around this bug. Use the commands below to do this:
sudo -i
mount -t vboxsf shared_folder_name mount_point

Press Ctrl-D to exit the root prompt when you’re done. Your shared folder should now to available from the mount point you specified.

3D Acceleration
To take advantage of 3D acceleration in your guest operating systems, you’ll need to first install the VirtualBox guest additions. Then, open the settings for your virtual machine and enable the 3D acceleration option.

I tried out the 3D acceleration with an Ubuntu 9.04 guest running on an Ubuntu 9.04 host with the Nvidia graphics driver. After enabling 3D, the guest detected it and started up Compiz.

Compiz runs smoothly on the guest, including intensive effects such as wobbly windows. I encountered a few graphical glitches. As seen below, transparency seems to be a problem for some windows:

Compiz in a virtual machine with glitches

I tried the 3D game Nexuiz, running the game just produced a blank screen. Google Earth was sluggish at first, but after turning down the graphics settings it was completely usable.

I have had one virtual machine crash when pasting text copied from the guest, but no stability problems with the 3D acceleration so far.


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