Posted by: Ian | March 14, 2008

Running a Windows Seamless on Ubuntu using VirtualBox

Recently I’ve been playing around with Linux a bit. Mainly Ubuntu as it seems well supported and generally easy to get on with. In the past I’ve had issues with hardware compatibility and generally little support for getting things working.

The reason i’ve been trying to use Linux is that my work machine (A Dual Core Optiplex 745 with 2Gb ram) is currently running Vista for testing. Its been getting slower and slower and also hanging a lot more than usual. So i thought it was time to sample something else. The only problem is that the enviroment i look after is 90% Windows and so requires some Windows only apps. This is where VirtualBox comes in.

You can read all about VirtualBox here – In summary it allows you to run Virtual Machines, in my case a Virtual Windows XP machine in Ubuntu Linux. Big wh00p you might say Vmware workstation/player already do that. Well something unique to VirtualBox is the fact you can run the Windows machine in Seamless mode. This allows you to have the look and feel of Ubuntu but run Windows apps as if they were loaded from Ubuntu itself.

How to set it up:

  • Download Ubuntu – I had issues with Ubuntu 7.10 and my Intel 965 graphics card so am using Ubuntu 8.04 Alpha 6
  • Install Ubuntu – I’m not going to run through this as it will greatly differ from machine to machine

Once Ubuntu is installed make sure everything is working – sound, video etc. This is fully needed but you may as well get your Ubuntu machine running sweet before running a Virtual Machine over the top.

Once you’re ready to install VirtualBox follow the below guide (Taken from This forum post)

  • Create a temporary directory and move into it.


mkdir /tmp/virtualboxcd /tmp/virtualbox
  • Get dependencies for building:
sudo apt-get install module-assistantsudo apt-get build-dep virtualbox-ose
  • Get virtualbox-ose
apt-get source virtualbox-ose
  • Go into directory virtualbox-ose-1.5.4-dfsg


cd /tmp/virtualbox/virtualbox-ose-q.5.4-dfsg
  • Build (takes a while) (You may also need to install fakeroot with the command sudo apt-get install fakeroot:
dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot
  • Install source for modules:
sudo dpkg -i virtualbox-ose-source_1.5.4-dfsg-4ubuntu1_all.deb
  • Build modules:
sudo m-a build virtualbox-ose
  • Install modules (by default it builds in /usr/src):
sudo dpkg -i /usr/src/virtualbox-ose-modules-2.6.24-5-generic_1.5.4-dfsg-4ubuntu1+2.6.24-5.8_amd64.deb #(might be different for you because I have Ubuntu for amd64)
  • Install VirtualBox:
sudo dpkg -i virtualbox-ose_1.5.4-dfsg-4ubuntu1_amd64.deb #(might be different for you because I have Ubuntu for amd64)

After all that you can load it from the Applications -> System Tools -> VirtualBox OSE.

I had a few issues at first and needed to run sudo modprobe vboxdrv. Also something else to be aware of is that after updating 8.04 with the latest patches i had to use the .11 kernel not the new one (Selected on Startup).

Apart from those issues i have been running my XP machine fine in full seamless with Compiz. The only thing really lacking is 3d support in VirtualBox which means it’s not going on my home machine, but for work it’s freakin awesome!

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