Suspending a VM

Managing VMs from the command line

List the VMs

vboxmanage list vms

Get the power state of a VM

vboxmanage showvminfo "VM name" | grep ^State

Start a VM

vboxmanage startvm "VM name" --type headless

Safely shut down a VM

vboxmanage controlvm "VM name" acpipowerbutton

Show port forwarding rules

vboxmanage showvminfo "VM name" | grep Rule

Delete a port forwarding rule

$ vboxmanage showvminfo "VM name" | grep Rule
NIC 1 Rule(0):   name = Rule 1, protocol = tcp, host ip = , host port = 15672, guest ip = , guest port = 15672
$ vboxmanage controlvm "VM name" natpf1 delete "Rule 1"
$ vboxmanage showvminfo "VM name" | grep Rule

Create a port forwarding rule

$ vboxmanage controlvm "VM name" natpf1 "Rule 1,tcp,,15671,,15671"
$ vboxmanage showvminfo "VM name" | grep Rule
NIC 1 Rule(0):   name = Rule 1, protocol = tcp, host ip = , host port = 15671, guest ip = , guest port = 15671


Grow virtual disk

Note: The virtual disk type must be VDI. If not, see below to convert it.

  1. Power off the VM

  2. Resize the disk
     vboxmanage modifyhd /path/to/image.vdi --resize 61440

    (size is in MB)

  3. Power on the VM and resize the filesystem within the OS

Convert a virtual disk from VMDK to VDI

  1. Clone the virtual disk to a new VDI image
     vboxmanage clonehd --format VDI /path/to/image.vmdk /path/to/image.vdi
  2. Remove the old disk image
    • VirtualBox > select the VM > Settings > Storage > right-click the old disk image > Remove Attachment
  3. Add the new disk image
    • Right-click Controller: SATA > Add Hard Disk > Choose Existing Disk > browse to the new disk image you created > Open > OK

Convert a raw disk image (created by dd) to VDI

vboxmanage convertfromraw /path/to/disk.img /path/to/disk/vdi


To allow VMs to talk to each other as well as the outside network

This method requires a DHCP server for your outside network with available addresses:

  1. Select the VM > Settings > Network > Adapter 1 > Attached to > Bridged Adapter

  2. Name > select the appropriate adapter to be bridged (e.g. eth0 for a wired connection, wlan0 for wireless) > OK

If that isn’t an option:

  1. Power off the VM (required to add or remove network adapters)

  2. Set the first network adapter for the VM to NAT (the default)
    1. Select the VM > Settings > Network > Adapter 1 > Attached to > NAT
  3. Set the second network adapter for the VM to Host-only Adapter
    1. Adapter 2 > check Enable Network Adapter > Attached to > Host-only Adapter > OK
      • If OK is greyed out and you see Invalid settings detected:
        1. Cancel > File > Host Network Manager > Create > Close

        2. Repeat the above instructions to add a new network adapter to the newly created VM

  4. Power on the VM

  5. Configure the second NIC
    • Ubuntu/Debian:
      • Configuration should be automatic
    • RHEL/CentOS:
      1. Copy the configuration from the first NIC
         sudo cp /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0 /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth1
      2. Get the MAC address for the new adapter (the one with eth1 in the name), or you can get it from the Virtualbox settings:
         cat /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules
      3. Edit /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth1
         sudo vi /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth1
        1. Update DEVICE:
        2. Update HWADDR. Ex:
        3. Delete the UUID line
      4. Restart the network
         sudo service network restart

Guest additions

Install VirtualBox guest additions on Ubuntu

  1. After installing Ubuntu, install prerequisite packages for the VirtualBox Guest Additions
     sudo apt-get -y install build-essential dkms linux-headers-generic
  2. Install the VirtualBox Guest Additions:
    1. Devices > Insert Guest Additions CD image

    2. Open a terminal and run:
    3. Reboot

    4. If you get error messages related to guest additions or they don’t appear to be working, try reinstalling them and reboot again


If you are unable to attach USB devices

Your user must be part of the vboxusers group

  1. Use the id command to list your group membership
  2. If vboxusers isn’t in the list of groups, run this command to add your user
     sudo usermod -a -G vboxusers $USER
  3. Log out and log back in to update your membership. If you’d rather not log out:
    1. Completely close VirtualBox

    2. Run this command in a terminal to update your groups temporarily:
       su - $USER
    3. Run the virtualbox command to open VirtualBox with the new groups

Errors when trying to start a VM from the command line

  • VBoxManage: error: This VM was configured to use 3D acceleration.
    • Edit the .vbox file for the VM and set accelerate3D="false"
  • VBoxManage: error: Failed to load unit 'HGCM' (VERR_SSM_UNEXPECTED_DATA)
    1. Delete the saved state:
       vboxmanage discardstate "VM name"
    2. Then try to start the VM again

VM is unable to access the internet

  1. Double-check the network settings (see above)

  2. If you’re running Docker, you may need to stop it or change the default network range used by Docker, as this can conflict with the private network ranges used by VirtualBox