Install VirtualBox Additions for an Ubuntu 8.04 Guest

An updated post for VirtualBox 2, Ubuntu 8.04, and 8.10 is available.

I’m running a few Ubuntu virtual machines for testing new software. My favorite virtualization software, VirtualBox, is much easier to use with the additional drivers (called “Guest Additions”) that allow higher screen resolutions, better display performance, and mouse integration. For Ubuntu 8.04 guests, I had some issues installing the guest additions using VirtualBox 1.5.6 OSE.

Start up your Ubuntu 8.04 guest. In VirtualBox, click Devices->Install Guest Additions and your virtual Ubuntu should recognize a new CD. Open a terminal and run this command:

sudo /media/cdrom/

The installer should prompt you that it’s time to restart the virtual machine once it’s done. Just logging out and back in should work.

This is where things get sticky. For Ubuntu 8.04 guests, the VirtualBox video driver will not be enabled because of the minimalistic xorg.conf file.

Open your guest machine’s xorg.conf file:

gksu gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Find the device section, which should look like this:

Section "Device"
    Identifier  "Configured Video Device"

And replace it with this to enable the VirtualBox driver:

Section "Device"
    Identifier  "Configured Video Device"
    Driver      "vboxvideo"

Changing screen resolutions in Ubuntu 8.04 is done with RandR, which is not supported by VirtualBox. So you’ll also need to set a resolution manually. Find the screen section, which should look like this:

Section "Screen"
    Identifier  "Default Screen"
    Monitor     "Configured Monitor"
    Device      "Configured Video Device"

And replace it with this, but change 1024x768 to your preferred resolution:

Section "Screen"
    Identifier      "Default Screen"
    Device          "VirtualBox graphics card"
    Monitor         "Generic Monitor"
    DefaultDepth    24
    SubSection "Display"
        Depth       24
        Modes       "1024x768"

Save, exit the editor, and log out. You should now have a large virtual machine window, as well as mouse pointer integration. Enjoy your VM!

Archived Comments


Great post Tom. I’ve been using the mediocre resolution for quite some time … :)


This is great! I was wondering why I couldn’t get the resolution to change. Thanks!


1.6.0 is out and the guest additions on Heron work just fine! Hope the integrate it in the repositories soon.


Finally! I was going crazy trying to make my Intel 915G chipset to work and was wondering what the matter was.

The only thing, though, is that logging off wasn’t enough: I had to actually reboot to actually see the vboxvideo driver.

Thank you for saving my sanity.


It’s better to use the new virtualbox from sun microsystems website with now seamless windows for linux and has compatibility with ubuntu 8.04 guests


I can’t do that, when I want put the pass, the keys not responding. Do you know about that? please help




Thanks! Perfectly written and helpful post.


well call me stupid but…….that file can not be changed…..even with admin rights AND as Root.


Thanks! this works perfect. I’ve been using Ubuntu 8.04 with VirtualBox and I couldn’t figure out the resolution issue.. This is the perfect solution.

I got the resolution that I wanted. One more thing though.. how about the Visual Effects ? I was still unable to enable them.. Any suggestions ??

Thanks again though..


It’s not possible to get 3D acceleration inside a virtual machine yet, so visual effects won’t work. However, you can try Metacity’s compositing:


great job! thx


IS there a more up to date tutoral for VirtualBox 2.0.2?


In 8.04 Try:

in terminal:
# cd /media/cdrom/
# sudo ./VBox… (choose version for our CPU)

# sudo reboot now



Gabriel, you only need to install VB Additions and all works like a charm. You don’t need to edit configuration files and screen resolution can be changed with System -> Preferences -> Screen Resolution


Thanks Tom, I’m new to Linux, and except for this post, most of the stuff I’ve found has been in a different language.

This tip was clear, concise, and it actually worked the first time. Awesome…


I agree with Ralph. This was a nice, concise guide that worked on the first try as well.

Thanks very much for the piece. Very nice!


I do not find the “devices” menu/button anywhere in the VM.
Help me plz


Thanks for this! I’m now running Ubuntu on my MacBook with 2048x1152! :)


great stuff! thanks!!!!!!


With VirtualBox 3.0.12 r54655 and Ubuntu 9.10, no need for the “Sticky” part, just ran the installer, logged out and back in.


Using the Virtual Box 3.2 running Ubuntu 10.4 in Vista SP2 was pretty straight forward, you click the devices-install guest services…then you can actually run the “CD” using the autorun functionality and it takes care of it for you…just reboot and go to full screen and it set my resolution correctly :), thanks for the great TIP


WOW thanks man it did work :)

Styrofoam Sheets 

i am also not a fan of overclocking personal computers, if done incorrectly, it could permanently damage your system–.

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