Chapter 12. Troubleshooting

Table of Contents

12.1. Procedures and tools
12.1.1. Categorizing and isolating problems
12.1.2. Collecting debugging information
12.1.3. The built-in VM debugger
12.1.4. VM core format
12.2. General
12.2.1. Guest shows IDE/SATA errors for file-based images on slow host file system
12.2.2. Responding to guest IDE/SATA flush requests
12.2.3. Poor performance caused by host power management
12.2.4. GUI: 2D Video Acceleration option is grayed out
12.3. Windows guests
12.3.1. Windows bluescreens after changing VM configuration
12.3.2. Windows 0x101 bluescreens with SMP enabled (IPI timeout)
12.3.3. Windows 2000 installation failures
12.3.4. How to record bluescreen information from Windows guests
12.3.5. No networking in Windows Vista guests
12.3.6. Windows guests may cause a high CPU load
12.3.7. Long delays when accessing shared folders
12.3.8. USB tablet coordinates wrong in Windows 98 guests
12.3.9. Windows guests are removed from an Active Directory domain after restoring a snapshot
12.3.10. Restoring d3d8.dll and d3d9.dll
12.4. Linux and X11 guests
12.4.1. Linux guests may cause a high CPU load
12.4.2. AMD Barcelona CPUs
12.4.3. Buggy Linux 2.6 kernel versions
12.4.4. Shared clipboard, auto-resizing and seamless desktop in X11 guests
12.5. Solaris guests
12.5.1. Older Solaris 10 releases hang in 64-bit mode
12.6. Windows hosts
12.6.1. VBoxSVC out-of-process COM server issues
12.6.2. CD/DVD changes not recognized
12.6.3. Sluggish response when using Microsoft RDP client
12.6.4. Running an iSCSI initiator and target on a single system
12.6.5. Bridged networking adapters missing
12.6.6. Host-only networking adapters cannot be created
12.7. Linux hosts
12.7.1. Linux kernel module refuses to load
12.7.2. Linux host CD/DVD drive not found
12.7.3. Linux host CD/DVD drive not found (older distributions)
12.7.4. Linux host floppy not found
12.7.5. Strange guest IDE error messages when writing to CD/DVD
12.7.6. VBoxSVC IPC issues
12.7.7. USB not working
12.7.8. PAX/grsec kernels
12.7.9. Linux kernel vmalloc pool exhausted
12.8. Solaris hosts
12.8.1. Cannot start VM, not enough contiguous memory
12.8.2. VM aborts with out of memory errors on Solaris 10 hosts

This chapter provides answers to commonly asked questions. In order to improve your user experience with VirtualBox, it is recommended to read this section to learn more about common pitfalls and get recommendations on how to use the product.

12.1. Procedures and tools

12.1.1. Categorizing and isolating problems

More often than not, a virtualized guest behaves like a physical system. Any problems that a physical machine would encounter, a virtual machine will encounter as well. If, for example, Internet connectivity is lost due to external issues, virtual machines will be affected just as much as physical ones.

If a true VirtualBox problem is encountered, it helps to categorize and isolate the problem first. Here are some of the questions that should be answered before reporting a problem:

  1. Is the problem specific to a certain guest OS? Specific release of a guest OS? Especially with Linux guest related problems, the issue may be specific to a certain distribution and version of Linux.

  2. Is the problem specific to a certain host OS? Problems are usually not host OS specific (because most of the VirtualBox code base is shared across all supported platforms), but especially in the areas of networking and USB support, there are significant differences between host platforms. Some GUI related issues are also host specific.

  3. Is the problem specific to certain host hardware? This category of issues is typically related to the host CPU. Because of significant differences between VT-x and AMD-V, problems may be specific to one or the other technology. The exact CPU model may also make a difference (even for software virtualization) because different CPUs support different features, which may affect certain aspects of guest CPU operation.

  4. Is the problem specific to a certain virtualization mode? Some problems may only occur in software virtualization mode, others may be specific to hardware virtualization.

  5. Is the problem specific to guest SMP? That is, is it related to the number of virtual CPUs (VCPUs) in the guest? Using more than one CPU usually significantly affects the internal operation of a guest OS.

  6. Is the problem specific to the Guest Additions? In some cases, this is a given (e.g., a shared folders problem), in other cases it may be less obvious (for example, display problems). And if the problem is Guest Additions specific, is it also specific to a certain version of the Additions?

  7. Is the problem specific to a certain environment? Some problems are related to a particular environment external to the VM; this usually involves network setup. Certain configurations of external servers such as DHCP or PXE may expose problems which do not occur with other, similar servers.

  8. Is the problem a regression? Knowing that an issue is a regression usually makes it significantly easier to find the solution. In this case, it is crucial to know which version is affected and which is not.

12.1.2. Collecting debugging information

For problem determination, it is often important to collect debugging information which can be analyzed by VirtualBox support. This section contains information about what kind of information can be obtained.

Every time VirtualBox starts up a VM, a so-called "release log file" is created containing lots of information about the VM configuration and runtime events. The log file is called VBox.log and resides in the VM log file folder. Typically this will be a directory like this:

$HOME/VirtualBox VMs/{machinename}/Logs

When starting a VM, the configuration file of the last run will be renamed to .1, up to .3. Sometimes when there is a problem, it is useful to have a look at the logs. Also when requesting support for VirtualBox, supplying the corresponding log file is mandatory.

For convenience, for each virtual machine, the VirtualBox main window can show these logs in a window. To access it, select a virtual machine from the list on the left and select "Show logs..." from the "Machine" window.

The release log file (VBox.log) contains a wealth of diagnostic information, such as Host OS type and version, VirtualBox version and build (32-bit or 64-bit), a complete dump of the guest's configuration (CFGM), detailed information about the host CPU type and supported features, whether hardware virtualization is enabled, information about VT-x/AMD-V setup, state transitions (creating, running, paused, stopping, etc.), guest BIOS messages, Guest Additions messages, device-specific log entries and, at the end of execution, final guest state and condensed statistics.

In case of crashes, it is very important to collect crash dumps. This is true for both host and guest crashes. For information about enabling core dumps on Linux, Solaris, and OS X systems, refer to the core dump article on the VirtualBox website.[44]

You can also use VBoxManage debugvm to create a dump of a complete virtual machine; see Section 8.32, “VBoxManage debugvm”.

For network related problems, it is often helpful to capture a trace of network traffic. If the traffic is routed through an adapter on the host, it is possible to use Wireshark or a similar tool to capture the traffic there. However, this often also includes a lot of traffic unrelated to the VM.

VirtualBox provides an ability to capture network traffic only on a specific VM's network adapter. Refer to the network tracing article on the VirtualBox website[45] for information on enabling this capture. The trace files created by VirtualBox are in .pcap format and can be easily analyzed with Wireshark.

12.1.3. The built-in VM debugger

VirtualBox includes a built-in VM debugger, which advanced users may find useful. This debugger allows for examining and, to some extent, controlling the VM state.

Warning

Use the VM debugger at your own risk. There is no support for it, and the following documentation is only made available for advanced users with a very high level of familiarity with the x86/AMD64 machine instruction set, as well as detailed knowledge of the PC architecture. A degree of familiarity with the internals of the guest OS in question may also be very helpful.

The VM debugger is available in all regular production versions of VirtualBox, but it is disabled by default because the average user will have little use for it. There are two ways to access the debugger:

  • A debugger console window displayed alongside the VM

  • Via the telnet protocol at port 5000

The debugger can be enabled in three ways:

  • Start the VM directly using VirtualBox --startvm, with an additional --dbg, --debug, or --debug-command-line argument. See the VirtualBox usage help for details.

  • Set the VBOX_GUI_DBG_ENABLED or VBOX_GUI_DBG_AUTO_SHOW environment variable to true before launching the VirtualBox process. Setting these variables (only their presence is checked) is effective even when the first VirtualBox process is the VM selector window. VMs subsequently launched from the selector will have the debugger enabled.

  • Set the GUI/Dbg/Enabled extra data item to true before launching the VM. This can be set globally or on a per VM basis.

A new 'Debug' menu entry will be added to the VirtualBox application. This menu allows the user to open the debugger console.

The VM debugger command syntax is loosely modeled on Microsoft and IBM debuggers used on DOS, OS/2 and Windows. Users familiar with symdeb, CodeView, or the OS/2 kernel debugger will find the VirtualBox VM debugger familiar.

The most important command is help. This will print brief usage help for all debugger commands. The set of commands supported by the VM debugger changes frequently and the help command is always up-to-date.

A brief summary of frequently used commands follows:

  • stop -- stops the VM execution and enables single stepping

  • g -- continue VM execution

  • t -- single step an instruction

  • rg/rh/r -- print the guest/hypervisor/current registers

  • kg/kh/k -- print the guest/hypervisor/current call stack

  • da/db/dw/dd/dq -- print memory contents as ASCII/bytes/words/dwords/qwords

  • u -- unassemble memory

  • dg -- print the guest's GDT

  • di -- print the guest's IDT

  • dl -- print the guest's LDT

  • dt -- print the guest's TSS

  • dp* -- print the guest's page table structures

  • bp/br -- set a normal/recompiler breakpoint

  • bl -- list breakpoints

  • bc -- clear a breakpoint

  • writecore -- writes a VM core file to disk, refer Section 12.1.4, “VM core format”

See the built-in help for other available commands.

The VM debugger supports symbolic debugging, although symbols for guest code are often not available. For Solaris guests, the detect command automatically determines the guest OS version and locates kernel symbols in guest's memory. Symbolic debugging is then available. For Linux guests, the detect commands also determines the guest OS version, but there are no symbols in the guest's memory. Kernel symbols are available in the file /proc/kallsyms on Linux guests. This file must be copied to the host, for example using scp. The loadmap debugger command can be used to make the symbol information available to the VM debugger. Note that the kallsyms file contains the symbols for the currently loaded modules; if the guest's configuration changes, the symbols will change as well and must be updated.

For all guests, a simple way to verify that the correct symbols are loaded is the k command. The guest is normally idling and it should be clear from the symbolic information that the guest operating system's idle loop is being executed.

Another group of debugger commands is the set of info commands. Running info help provides complete usage information. The information commands provide ad-hoc data pertinent to various emulated devices and aspects of the VMM. There is no general guideline for using the info commands, the right command to use depends entirely on the problem being investigated. Some of the info commands are:

  • cfgm -- print a branch of the configuration tree

  • cpuid -- display the guest CPUID leaves

  • ioport -- print registered I/O port ranges

  • mmio -- print registered MMIO ranges

  • mode -- print the current paging mode

  • pit -- print the i8254 PIT state

  • pic -- print the i8259A PIC state

  • ohci/ehci -- print a subset of the OHCI/EHCI USB controller state

  • pcnet0 -- print the PCnet state

  • vgatext -- print the contents of the VGA framebuffer formatted as standard text mode

  • timers -- print all VM timers

The output of the info commands generally requires in-depth knowledge of the emulated device and/or VirtualBox VMM internals. However, when used properly, the information provided can be invaluable.

12.1.4. VM core format

VirtualBox uses the 64-bit ELF format for its VM core files created by VBoxManage debugvm; see Section 8.32, “VBoxManage debugvm”. The VM core file contain the memory and CPU dumps of the VM and can be useful for debugging your guest OS. The 64-bit ELF object format specficiation can be obtained here: http://downloads.openwatcom.org/ftp/devel/docs/elf-64-gen.pdf.

The overall layout of the VM core format is as follows:

[ ELF 64 Header]
[ Program Header, type PT_NOTE ]
  -> offset to COREDESCRIPTOR
[ Program Header, type PT_LOAD ] - one for each contiguous physical memory range
  -> Memory offset of range
  -> File offset
[ Note Header, type NT_VBOXCORE ]
[ COREDESCRIPTOR ]
  -> Magic
  -> VM core file version
  -> VBox version
  -> Number of vCPUs etc.
[ Note Header, type NT_VBOXCPU ] - one for each vCPU
[ vCPU 1 Note Header ]
  [ CPUMCTX - vCPU 1 dump ]
[ Additional Notes + Data ] - currently unused
[ Memory dump ]

The memory descriptors contain physical addresses relative to the guest and not virtual addresses. Regions of memory such as MMIO regions are not included in the core file.

The relevant data structures and definitions can be found in the VirtualBox sources under the following header files: include/VBox/dbgfcorefmt.h, include/VBox/cpumctx.h and src/VBox/Runtime/include/internal/ldrELFCommon.h.

The VM core file can be inspected using elfdump and GNU readelf or other similar utilities.

12.2. General

12.2.1. Guest shows IDE/SATA errors for file-based images on slow host file system

Occasionally, some host file systems provide very poor writing performance and as a consequence cause the guest to time out IDE/SATA commands. This is normal behavior and should normally cause no real problems, as the guest should repeat commands that have timed out. However, some guests (e.g. some Linux versions) have severe problems if a write to an image file takes longer than about 15 seconds. Some file systems however require more than a minute to complete a single write, if the host cache contains a large amount of data that needs to be written.

The symptom for this problem is that the guest can no longer access its files during large write or copying operations, usually leading to an immediate hang of the guest.

In order to work around this problem (the true fix is to use a faster file system that doesn't exhibit such unacceptable write performance), it is possible to flush the image file after a certain amount of data has been written. This interval is normally infinite, but can be configured individually for each disk of a VM.

For IDE disks use the following command:

VBoxManage setextradata "VM name"
      "VBoxInternal/Devices/piix3ide/0/LUN#[x]/Config/FlushInterval" [b]

For SATA disks use the following command:

VBoxManage setextradata "VM name"
      "VBoxInternal/Devices/ahci/0/LUN#[x]/Config/FlushInterval" [b]

The value [x] that selects the disk for IDE is 0 for the master device on the first channel, 1 for the slave device on the first channel, 2 for the master device on the second channel or 3 for the master device on the second channel. For SATA use values between 0 and 29. Only disks support this configuration option; it must not be set for CD/DVD drives.

The unit of the interval [b] is the number of bytes written since the last flush. The value for it must be selected so that the occasional long write delays do not occur. Since the proper flush interval depends on the performance of the host and the host filesystem, finding the optimal value that makes the problem disappear requires some experimentation. Values between 1000000 and 10000000 (1 to 10 megabytes) are a good starting point. Decreasing the interval both decreases the probability of the problem and the write performance of the guest. Setting the value unnecessarily low will cost performance without providing any benefits. An interval of 1 will cause a flush for each write operation and should solve the problem in any case, but has a severe write performance penalty.

Providing a value of 0 for [b] is treated as an infinite flush interval, effectively disabling this workaround. Removing the extra data key by specifying no value for [b] has the same effect.

12.2.2. Responding to guest IDE/SATA flush requests

If desired, the virtual disk images can be flushed when the guest issues the IDE FLUSH CACHE command. Normally these requests are ignored for improved performance. The parameters below are only accepted for disk drives. They must not be set for DVD drives.

To enable flushing for IDE disks, issue the following command:

VBoxManage setextradata "VM name" "VBoxInternal/Devices/piix3ide/0/LUN#[x]/Config/IgnoreFlush" 0

The value [x] that selects the disk is 0 for the master device on the first channel, 1 for the slave device on the first channel, 2 for the master device on the second channel or 3 for the master device on the second channel.

To enable flushing for SATA disks, issue the following command:

VBoxManage setextradata "VM name" "VBoxInternal/Devices/ahci/0/LUN#[x]/Config/IgnoreFlush" 0

The value [x] that selects the disk can be a value between 0 and 29.

Note that this doesn't affect the flushes performed according to the configuration described in 12.2.1. Restoring the default of ignoring flush commands is possible by setting the value to 1 or by removing the key.

12.2.3. Poor performance caused by host power management

On some hardware platforms and operating systems, virtualization performance is negatively affected by host CPU power management. The symptoms may be choppy audio in the guest or erratic guest clock behavior.

Some of the problems may be caused by firmware and/or host operating system bugs. Therefore, updating the firmware and applying operating systems fixes is recommended.

For optimal virtualization performance, the C1E power state support in the system's BIOS should be disabled, if such a setting is available (not all systems support the C1E power state). On Intel systems the Intel C State setting should be disabled. Disabling other power management settings may also improve performance. However, a balance between performance and power consumption must always be considered.

12.2.4. GUI: 2D Video Acceleration option is grayed out

To use 2D Video Acceleration within VirtualBox, your host's video card should support certain OpenGL extensions. On startup, VirtualBox checks for those extensions, and, if the test fails, this option is silently grayed out.

To find out why it has failed, you can manually execute the following command:

VBoxTestOGL --log "log_file_name" --test 2D

It will list the required OpenGL extensions one by one and will show you which one failed the test. This usually means that you are running an outdated or misconfigured OpenGL driver on your host. It can also mean that your video chip is lacking required functionality.

12.3. Windows guests

12.3.1. Windows bluescreens after changing VM configuration

Changing certain virtual machine settings can cause Windows guests to fail during start up with a bluescreen. This may happen if you change VM settings after installing Windows, or if you copy a disk image with an already installed Windows to a newly created VM which has settings that differ from the original machine.

This applies in particular to the following settings:

  • The ACPI and I/O APIC settings should never be changed after installing Windows. Depending on the presence of these hardware features, the Windows installation program chooses special kernel and device driver versions and will fail to startup should these hardware features be removed. (Enabling them for a Windows VM which was installed without them does not cause any harm. However, Windows will not use these features in this case.)

  • Changing the storage controller hardware will cause bootup failures as well. This might also apply to you if you copy a disk image from an older version of VirtualBox to a virtual machine created with a newer VirtualBox version; the default subtype of IDE controller hardware was changed from PIIX3 to PIIX4 with VirtualBox 2.2. Make sure these settings are identical.

12.3.2. Windows 0x101 bluescreens with SMP enabled (IPI timeout)

If a VM is configured to have more than one processor (symmetrical multiprocessing, SMP), some configurations of Windows guests crash with an 0x101 error message, indicating a timeout for inter-processor interrupts (IPIs). These interrupts synchronize memory management between processors.

According to Microsoft, this is due to a race condition in Windows. A hotfix is available.[46] If this does not help, please reduce the number of virtual processors to 1.

12.3.3. Windows 2000 installation failures

When installing Windows 2000 guests, you might run into one of the following issues:

  • Installation reboots, usually during component registration.

  • Installation fills the whole hard disk with empty log files.

  • Installation complains about a failure installing msgina.dll.

These problems are all caused by a bug in the hard disk driver of Windows 2000. After issuing a hard disk request, there is a race condition in the Windows driver code which leads to corruption if the operation completes too fast, i.e. the hardware interrupt from the IDE controller arrives too soon. With physical hardware, there is a guaranteed delay in most systems so the problem is usually hidden there (however it should be possible to reproduce it on physical hardware as well). In a virtual environment, it is possible for the operation to be done immediately (especially on very fast systems with multiple CPUs) and the interrupt is signaled sooner than on a physical system. The solution is to introduce an artificial delay before delivering such interrupts. This delay can be configured for a VM using the following command:

VBoxManage setextradata "VM name" "VBoxInternal/Devices/piix3ide/0/Config/IRQDelay" 1

This sets the delay to one millisecond. In case this doesn't help, increase it to a value between 1 and 5 milliseconds. Please note that this slows down disk performance. After installation, you should be able to remove the key (or set it to 0).

12.3.4. How to record bluescreen information from Windows guests

When Windows guests run into a kernel crash, they display the infamous bluescreen. Depending on how Windows is configured, the information will remain on the screen until the machine is restarted or it will reboot automatically. During installation, Windows is usually configured to reboot automatically. With automatic reboots, there is no chance to record the bluescreen information which might be important for problem determination.

VirtualBox provides a method of halting a guest when it wants to perform a reset. In order to enable this feature, issue the following command:

VBoxManage setextradata "VM name" "VBoxInternal/PDM/HaltOnReset" 1

12.3.5. No networking in Windows Vista guests

With Windows Vista, Microsoft dropped support for the AMD PCNet card that VirtualBox used to provide as the default virtual network card before version 1.6.0. For Windows Vista guests, VirtualBox now uses an Intel E1000 card by default.

If, for some reason, you still want to use the AMD card, you need to download the PCNet driver from the AMD website (available for 32-bit Windows only). You can transfer it into the virtual machine using a shared folder, see (see Section 4.3, “Shared folders”).

12.3.6. Windows guests may cause a high CPU load

Several background applications of Windows guests, especially virus scanners, are known to increases the CPU load notably even if the guest appears to be idle. We recommend to deactivate virus scanners within virtualized guests if possible.

12.3.7. Long delays when accessing shared folders

The performance for accesses to shared folders from a Windows guest might be decreased due to delays during the resolution of the VirtualBox shared folders name service. To fix these delays, add the following entries to the file \windows\system32\drivers\etc\lmhosts of the Windows guest:

255.255.255.255        VBOXSVR #PRE
255.255.255.255        VBOXSRV #PRE

After doing this change, a reboot of the guest is required.

12.3.8. USB tablet coordinates wrong in Windows 98 guests

If a Windows 98 VM is configured to use the emulated USB tablet (absolute pointing device), the coordinate translation may be incorrect and the pointer is restricted to the upper left quarter of the guest's screen.

The USB HID (Human Interface Device) drivers in Windows 98 are very old and do not handle tablets the same way all more recent operating systems do (Windows 2000 and later, Mac OS X, Solaris). To work around the problem, issue the following command:

VBoxManage setextradata "VM name" "VBoxInternal/USB/HidMouse/0/Config/CoordShift" 0

To restore the default behavior, remove the key or set its value to 1.

12.3.9. Windows guests are removed from an Active Directory domain after restoring a snapshot

If a Windows guest is a member of an Active Directory domain and the snapshot feature of VirtualBox is used, it could happen it loses this status after you restore an older snapshot.

The reason is the automatic machine password changing performed by Windows in regular intervals for security purposes. You can disable this feature by following the instruction of this http://support.microsoft.com/kb/154501 article from Microsoft.

12.3.10. Restoring d3d8.dll and d3d9.dll

VirtualBox Guest Additions for Windows prior to 4.1.8 did not properly back up the original d3d8.dll and d3d9.dll system files when selecting and installing the experimental Direct3D support. This process replaces both system files with files from the VirtualBox Guest Additions so that Direct3D calls can be handled correctly. Although this issue was fixed with VirtualBox 4.1.8, there is no way the Windows Guest Additions installer can repair these files.

Corruption of these files has no implications in case 3D acceleration is enabled and basic Direct3D support is installed, that is, without WDDM (on Windows Vista or higher) or on older Windows systems like Windows XP. With the basic Direct3D support all Direct3D 8.0 and Direct3D 9.0 applications will utilize VirtualBox Direct3D files directly and thus will run as expected.

For WDDM Direct3D support however, the originally shipped d3d8.dll and d3d9.dll files are required in order to run Direct3D 8.0 and Direct3D 9.0 applications. As a result of the above mentioned system files corruption these applications will not work anymore. See below for a step-by-step guide for restoring the original d3d8.dll and d3d9.dll system files in case the VirtualBox Guest Additions installer warned about those incorrect files or when having trouble running Direct3D applications.

Note

Starting at Windows 7 the 3D desktop (aka Aero) uses DirectX 10 for rendering so that corrupted d3d8.dll and d3d9.dll system files will have no effect on the actual rendering.

This is why such a detected file corruption is not considered as fatal for the basic Direct3D installation on all supported Windows guests, and for WDDM Direct3D installation on Windows 7 and later guests.

Extracting d3d8 and d3d9.dll from a Windows XP installation CD:

  1. Download and install the latest version of 7-Zip File Manager http//www.7-zip.org

  2. Browse into installation CD for example E:\i386 (or AMD64 for 64bit version)

  3. Locate file d3d8.dl_ and d3d9.dl_, double click on it and Extract d3d8.dll and d3d9.dll

  4. Reboot Windows in Safe mode

  5. Copy extracted d3d8.dll and d3d9.dll to C:\Windows\system32 and C:\Windows\system32\dllcache

  6. Reboot

Extracting d3d8 and d3d9.dll from Windows XP Service pack

  1. 1, 3-6 Same as installation CD

  2. Use 'Open inside' to open WindowsXP-KB936929-SP3-x86.exe as archive and browse i386 directory.

Extracting d3d8 and d3d9.dll from Vista/Windows7 installation CD or Service Pack iso

  1. Download and install the latest version of 7-Zip File Manager http//www.7-zip.org

  2. Browse into installation CD for example E:\sources

  3. Locate file install.wim and double click it. After 7-Zip utility opens the file, you'll get a few numbered folders. Each numeric subfolder represents a different version of Windows (Starter, Home Basic, and so on)

  4. After entering into the one of the numeric folders, browse into Windows\System32 (or C:\Windows\SysWOW64 for 64 bit version) directory locate d3d8.dll and d3d9.dll and extract

  5. Copy extracted d3d8.dll and d3d9.dll to C:\Windows\system32 or C:\Windows\SysWOW64 (files from system32 should go to system32, from SysWOW64 to SysWOW64)

  6. Reboot

12.4. Linux and X11 guests

12.4.1. Linux guests may cause a high CPU load

Some Linux guests may cause a high CPU load even if the guest system appears to be idle. This can be caused by a high timer frequency of the guest kernel. Some Linux distributions, for example Fedora, ship a Linux kernel configured for a timer frequency of 1000Hz. We recommend to recompile the guest kernel and to select a timer frequency of 100Hz.

Linux kernels shipped with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) as of release 4.7 and 5.1 as well as kernels of related Linux distributions (for instance CentOS and Oracle Linux) support a kernel parameter divider=N. Hence, such kernels support a lower timer frequency without recompilation. We suggest to add the kernel parameter divider=10 to select a guest kernel timer frequency of 100Hz.

12.4.2. AMD Barcelona CPUs

Most Linux-based guests will fail with AMD Phenoms or Barcelona-level Opterons due to a bug in the Linux kernel. Enable the I/O-APIC to work around the problem (see Section 3.4, “System settings”).

12.4.3. Buggy Linux 2.6 kernel versions

The following bugs in Linux kernels prevent them from executing correctly in VirtualBox, causing VM boot crashes:

  • The Linux kernel version 2.6.18 (and some 2.6.17 versions) introduced a race condition that can cause boot crashes in VirtualBox. Please use a kernel version 2.6.19 or later.

  • With hardware virtualization and the I/O APIC enabled, kernels before 2.6.24-rc6 may panic on boot with the following message:

    Kernel panic - not syncing: IO-APIC + timer doesn't work!  Boot with
    apic=debug and send a report.  Then try booting with the 'noapic' option

    If you see this message, either disable hardware virtualization or the I/O APIC (see Section 3.4, “System settings”), or upgrade the guest to a newer kernel.[47]

12.4.4. Shared clipboard, auto-resizing and seamless desktop in X11 guests

Guest desktop services in guests running the X11 window system (Solaris, Linux and others) are provided by a guest service called VBoxClient, which runs under the ID of the user who started the desktop session and is automatically started using the following command lines

VBoxClient --clipboard
VBoxClient --display
VBoxClient --seamless

when your X11 user session is started if you are using a common desktop environment (Gnome, KDE and others). If a particular desktop service is not working correctly, it is worth checking whether the process which should provide it is running.

The VBoxClient processes create files in the user's home directory with names of the form .vboxclient-*.pid when they are running in order to prevent a given service from being started twice. It can happen due to misconfiguration that these files are created owned by root and not deleted when the services are stopped, which will prevent them from being started in future sessions. If the services cannot be started, you may wish to check whether these files still exist.

12.5. Solaris guests

12.5.1. Older Solaris 10 releases hang in 64-bit mode

Solaris 10 releases up to and including Solaris 10 8/07 ("S10U4") incorrectly detect newer Intel processors produced since 2007. This problem leads to the 64-bit Solaris kernel hanging or crashing almost immediately during startup, in both virtualized and physical environments.

The recommended solution is upgrading to at least Solaris 10 5/08 ("S10U5"). Alternative solutions include forcing Solaris to always boot the 32-bit kernel or applying a patch for bug 6574102 (while Solaris is using the 32-bit kernel).

12.6. Windows hosts

12.6.1. VBoxSVC out-of-process COM server issues

VirtualBox makes use of the Microsoft Component Object Model (COM) for inter- and intra-process communication. This allows VirtualBox to share a common configuration among different virtual machine processes and provide several user interface options based on a common architecture. All global status information and configuration is maintained by the process VBoxSVC.exe, which is an out-of-process COM server. Whenever a VirtualBox process is started, it requests access to the COM server and Windows automatically starts the process. Note that it should never be started by the end user.

When the last process disconnects from the COM server, it will terminate itself after some seconds. The VirtualBox configuration (XML files) is maintained and owned by the COM server and the files are locked whenever the server runs.

In some cases - such as when a virtual machine is terminated unexpectedly - the COM server will not notice that the client is disconnected and stay active for a longer period (10 minutes or so) keeping the configuration files locked. In other rare cases the COM server might experience an internal error and subsequently other processes fail to initialize it. In these situations, it is recommended to use the Windows task manager to kill the process VBoxSVC.exe.

12.6.2. CD/DVD changes not recognized

In case you have assigned a physical CD/DVD drive to a guest and the guest does not notice when the medium changes, make sure that the Windows media change notification (MCN) feature is not turned off. This is represented by the following key in the Windows registry:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\Cdrom\Autorun

Certain applications may disable this key against Microsoft's advice. If it is set to 0, change it to 1 and reboot your system. VirtualBox relies on Windows notifying it of media changes.

12.6.3. Sluggish response when using Microsoft RDP client

If connecting to a Virtual Machine via the Microsoft RDP client (called Remote Desktop Connection), there can be large delays between input (moving the mouse over a menu is the most obvious situation) and output. This is because this RDP client collects input for a certain time before sending it to the RDP server.

The interval can be decreased by setting a Windows registry key to smaller values than the default of 100. The key does not exist initially and must be of type DWORD. The unit for its values is milliseconds. Values around 20 are suitable for low-bandwidth connections between the RDP client and server. Values around 4 can be used for a gigabit Ethernet connection. Generally values below 10 achieve a performance that is very close to that of the local input devices and screen of the host on which the Virtual Machine is running.

Depending whether the setting should be changed for an individual user or for the system, either

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Terminal Server Client\Min Send Interval

or

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Terminal Server Client\Min Send Interval

can be set appropriately.

12.6.4. Running an iSCSI initiator and target on a single system

Deadlocks can occur on a Windows host when attempting to access an iSCSI target running in a guest virtual machine with an iSCSI initiator (e.g. Microsoft iSCSI Initiator) that is running on the host. This is caused by a flaw in the Windows cache manager component, and causes sluggish host system response for several minutes, followed by a "Delayed Write Failed" error message in the system tray or in a separate message window. The guest is blocked during that period and may show error messages or become unstable.

Setting the environment variable VBOX_DISABLE_HOST_DISK_CACHE to 1 will enable a workaround for this problem until Microsoft addresses the issue. For example, open a command prompt window and start VirtualBox like this:

set VBOX_DISABLE_HOST_DISK_CACHE=1
VirtualBox

While this will decrease guest disk performance (especially writes), it does not affect the performance of other applications running on the host.

12.6.5. Bridged networking adapters missing

If no bridged adapters show up in the "Networking" section of the VM settings, this typically means that the bridged networking driver was not installed properly on your host. This could be due to the following reasons:

  • The maximum allowed filter count was reached on the host. In this case, the MSI log would mention the 0x8004a029 error code returned on NetFlt network component install:

    VBoxNetCfgWinInstallComponent: Install failed, hr (0x8004a029)

    You can try to increase the maximum filter count in the Windows registry at the following key:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Network\MaxNumFilters

    The maximum number allowed is 14. After a reboot, try to re-install VirtualBox.

  • The INF cache is corrupt. In this case, the install log (%windir%\inf\setupapi.log on XP or %windir%\inf\setupapi.dev.log on Vista or later) would typically mention the failure to find a suitable driver package for either the sun_VBoxNetFlt or sun_VBoxNetFltmp components. The solution then is to uninstall VirtualBox, remove the INF cache (%windir%\inf\INFCACHE.1), reboot and try to re-install VirtualBox

12.6.6. Host-only networking adapters cannot be created

If host-only adapter cannot be created (either via the Manager or VBoxManage), then the INF cache is probably corrupt. In this case, the install log (%windir%\inf\setupapi.log on XP or %windir%\inf\setupapi.dev.log on Vista or later) would typically mention the failure to find a suitable driver package for the sun_VBoxNetAdp component. Again, as with the bridged networking problem described above, the solution is to uninstall VirtualBox, remove the INF cache (%windir%\inf\INFCACHE.1), reboot and try to re-install VirtualBox.

12.7. Linux hosts

12.7.1. Linux kernel module refuses to load

If the VirtualBox kernel module (vboxdrv) refuses to load, i.e. you get an "Error inserting vboxdrv: Invalid argument", check (as root) the output of the dmesg command to find out why the load failed. Most probably the kernel disagrees with the version of the gcc used to compile the module. Make sure that you use the same compiler as used to build the kernel.

12.7.2. Linux host CD/DVD drive not found

If you have configured a virtual machine to use the host's CD/DVD drive, but this does not appear to work, make sure that the current user has permission to access the corresponding Linux device file (/dev/hdc or /dev/scd0 or /dev/cdrom or similar). On most distributions, the user must be added to a corresponding group (usually called cdrom or cdrw).

12.7.3. Linux host CD/DVD drive not found (older distributions)

On older Linux distributions, if your CD/DVD device has a different name, VirtualBox may be unable to find it. On older Linux hosts, VirtualBox performs the following steps to locate your CD/DVD drives:

  1. VirtualBox examines if the environment variable VBOX_CDROM is defined (see below). If so, VirtualBox omits all the following checks.

  2. VirtualBox tests if /dev/cdrom works.

  3. In addition, VirtualBox checks if any CD/DVD drives are currently mounted by checking /etc/mtab.

  4. In addition, VirtualBox checks if any of the entries in /etc/fstab point to CD/DVD devices.

In other words, you can try to set VBOX_CDROM to contain a list of your CD/DVD devices, separated by colons, for example as follows:

export VBOX_CDROM='/dev/cdrom0:/dev/cdrom1'

On modern Linux distributions, VirtualBox uses the hardware abstraction layer (hal) to locate CD and DVD hardware.

12.7.4. Linux host floppy not found

The previous instructions (for CD and DVD drives) apply accordingly to floppy disks, except that on older distributions VirtualBox tests for /dev/fd* devices by default, and this can be overridden with the VBOX_FLOPPY environment variable.

12.7.5. Strange guest IDE error messages when writing to CD/DVD

If the experimental CD/DVD writer support is enabled with an incorrect VirtualBox, host or guest configuration, it is possible that any attempt to access the CD/DVD writer fails and simply results in guest kernel error messages (for Linux guests) or application error messages (for Windows guests). VirtualBox performs the usual consistency checks when a VM is powered up (in particular it aborts with an error message if the device for the CD/DVD writer is not writable by the user starting the VM), but it cannot detect all misconfigurations. The necessary host and guest OS configuration is not specific for VirtualBox, but a few frequent problems are listed here which occurred in connection with VirtualBox.

Special care must be taken to use the correct device. The configured host CD/DVD device file name (in most cases /dev/cdrom) must point to the device that allows writing to the CD/DVD unit. For CD/DVD writer units connected to a SCSI controller or to a IDE controller that interfaces to the Linux SCSI subsystem (common for some SATA controllers), this must refer to the SCSI device node (e.g. /dev/scd0). Even for IDE CD/DVD writer units this must refer to the appropriate SCSI CD-ROM device node (e.g. /dev/scd0) if the ide-scsi kernel module is loaded. This module is required for CD/DVD writer support with all Linux 2.4 kernels and some early 2.6 kernels. Many Linux distributions load this module whenever a CD/DVD writer is detected in the system, even if the kernel would support CD/DVD writers without the module. VirtualBox supports the use of IDE device files (e.g. /dev/hdc), provided the kernel supports this and the ide-scsi module is not loaded.

Similar rules (except that within the guest the CD/DVD writer is always an IDE device) apply to the guest configuration. Since this setup is very common, it is likely that the default configuration of the guest works as expected.

12.7.6. VBoxSVC IPC issues

On Linux, VirtualBox makes use of a custom version of Mozilla XPCOM (cross platform component object model) for inter- and intra-process communication (IPC). The process VBoxSVC serves as a communication hub between different VirtualBox processes and maintains the global configuration, i.e. the XML database. When starting a VirtualBox component, the processes VBoxSVC and VirtualBoxXPCOMIPCD are started automatically. They are only accessible from the user account they are running under. VBoxSVC owns the VirtualBox configuration database which normally resides in ~/.config/VirtualBox, or the appropriate configuration directory for your operating system. While it is running, the configuration files are locked. Communication between the various VirtualBox components and VBoxSVC is performed through a local domain socket residing in /tmp/.vbox-<username>-ipc. In case there are communication problems (i.e. a VirtualBox application cannot communicate with VBoxSVC), terminate the daemons and remove the local domain socket directory.

12.7.7. USB not working

If USB is not working on your Linux host, make sure that the current user is a member of the vboxusers group. On older hosts, you need to make sure that the user has permission to access the USB filesystem (usbfs), which VirtualBox relies on to retrieve valid information about your host's USB devices. The rest of this section only applies to those older systems.

As usbfs is a virtual filesystem, a chmod on /proc/bus/usb has no effect. The permissions for usbfs can therefore only be changed by editing the /etc/fstab file.

For example, most Linux distributions have a user group called usb or similar, of which the current user must be a member. To give all users of that group access to usbfs, make sure the following line is present:

# 85 is the USB group
none     /proc/bus/usb     usbfs      devgid=85,devmode=664    0    0

Replace 85 with the group ID that matches your system (search /etc/group for "usb" or similar). Alternatively, if you don't mind the security hole, give all users access to USB by changing "664" to "666".

The various distributions are very creative from which script the usbfs filesystem is mounted. Sometimes the command is hidden in unexpected places. For SuSE 10.0 the mount command is part of the udev configuration file /etc/udev/rules.d/50-udev.rules. As this distribution has no user group called usb, you may e.g. use the vboxusers group which was created by the VirtualBox installer. Since group numbers are allocated dynamically, the following example uses 85 as a placeholder. Modify the line containing (a linebreak has been inserted to improve readability)

DEVPATH="/module/usbcore", ACTION=="add",
    RUN+="/bin/mount -t usbfs usbfs /proc/bus/usb"

and add the necessary options (make sure that everything is in a single line):

DEVPATH="/module/usbcore", ACTION=="add",
    RUN+="/bin/mount -t usbfs usbfs /proc/bus/usb -o devgid=85,devmode=664"

Debian Etch has the mount command in /etc/init.d/mountkernfs.sh. Since that distribution has no group usb, it is also the easiest solution to allow all members of the group vboxusers to access the USB subsystem. Modify the line

domount usbfs usbdevfs /proc/bus/usb -onoexec,nosuid,nodev

so that it contains

domount usbfs usbdevfs /proc/bus/usb -onoexec,nosuid,nodev,devgid=85,devmode=664

As usual, replace the 85 with the actual group number which should get access to USB devices.

Other distributions do similar operations in scripts stored in the /etc/init.d directory.

12.7.8. PAX/grsec kernels

Linux kernels including the grsec patch (see http://www.grsecurity.net/) and derivates have to disable PAX_MPROTECT for the VBox binaries to be able to start a VM. The reason is that VBox has to create executable code on anonymous memory.

12.7.9. Linux kernel vmalloc pool exhausted

When running a large number of VMs with a lot of RAM on a Linux system (say 20 VMs with 1GB of RAM each), additional VMs might fail to start with a kernel error saying that the vmalloc pool is exhausted and should be extended. The error message also tells you to specify vmalloc=256MB in your kernel parameter list. If adding this parameter to your GRUB or LILO configuration makes the kernel fail to boot (with a weird error message such as "failed to mount the root partition"), then you have probably run into a memory conflict of your kernel and initial RAM disk. This can be solved by adding the following parameter to your GRUB configuration:

uppermem 524288

12.8. Solaris hosts

12.8.1. Cannot start VM, not enough contiguous memory

The ZFS file system is known to use nearly all available RAM as cache if the default system settings are not changed. This may lead to a heavy fragmentation of the host memory preventing VirtualBox VMs from being started. We recommend to limit the ZFS cache by adding a line

set zfs:zfs_arc_max = xxxx

to /etc/system where xxxx bytes is the amount of memory usable for the ZFS cache.

12.8.2. VM aborts with out of memory errors on Solaris 10 hosts

32-bit Solaris 10 hosts (bug 1225025) require swap space equal to, or greater than the host's physical memory size. For example, 8 GB physical memory would require at least 8 GB swap. This can be configured during a Solaris 10 install by choosing a 'custom install' and changing the default partitions.

Note

This restriction applies only to 32-bit Solaris hosts, 64-bit hosts are not affected!

For existing Solaris 10 installs, an additional swap image needs to be mounted and used as swap. Hence if you have 1 GB swap and 8 GB of physical memory, you require to add 7 GB more swap. This can be done as follows:

For ZFS (as root user):

zfs create -V 8gb /_<ZFS volume>_/swap
swap -a /dev/zvol/dsk/_<ZFS volume>_/swap

To mount if after reboot, add the following line to /etc/vfstab:

/dev/zvol/dsk/_<ZFS volume>_/swap - - swap - no -

Alternatively, you could grow the existing swap using:

zfs set volsize=8G rpool/swap

And reboot the system for the changes to take effect.

For UFS (as root user):

mkfile 7g /path/to/swapfile.img
swap -a /path/to/swapfile.img

To mount it after reboot, add the following line to /etc/vfstab:

/path/to/swap.img - - swap - no -