[vbox-dev] Inclusion of the Guest Additions in Ubuntu 11.10 by default

Michael Thayer michael.thayer at oracle.com
Tue Aug 30 08:29:31 PDT 2011

Hello Felix,

We started discussing this on IRC, but I will include it for background
as it might be of interest to other people.  I noticed when installing
Alpha 3 of Ubuntu 11.10 in order to test the Guest Additions there that
the operating system detected that it was running in VirtualBox and
offered to install Additions itself via the Additions Drivers" feature.
On the whole I think this is a good thing, as it makes for a good user
experience both from the point of view of Ubuntu and of VirtualBox, but
I am slightly worried that unless this feature is actively maintained
during the active lifetime of Ubuntu versions (and possibly beyond) that
it may lead to more users using mismatching versions of VirtualBox and
the Guest Additions, which clearly won't provide the best experience,
and I was hoping that we could think this through to find a solution
that both of us are happy with.  I don't know how deeply you are
involved with the Ubuntu side of this - do you know anyone else we
should be talking to?

One way of handling this would be for Ubuntu to automatically download
and run a Guest Additions installer from Oracle (or mirror the installer
themselves), checking for the right version before downloading.
(VirtualBox versions as of 3.0.4 can be detected using "dmidecode -u |
grep vboxVer", versions as of 1.5.0 if necessary by dd-ing the BIOS and
running it through the "strings" command.)  What we would certainly
appreciate would be for released versions of Ubuntu to be able to
support new versions of VirtualBox as they are released - or to drop the
Additions installation feature altogether when a release gets to a point
when Ubuntu no longer wish to update it.

On IRC you mentioned testing as something which worried you (the
Additions Drivers window says that the Additions have been "tested by
the Ubuntu developers" - does that mean you in this case?) as you wish
to have tested every combination which you support but don't have the
time to test every release of Ubuntu with every version of VirtualBox.
On the whole I don't have a good answer here if you are not willing to
pass the buck on to us.  Though we do do quite a bit of testing of the
Guest Additions before releasing it is mainly limited to the newest
version of a number of distributions, which of course covers quite a
range of kernel and X.Org versions.  Though we expect any "reasonable"
system as of Linux 2.4.21 (I think it was) and XFree86 4.3 to work with
the Additions we tend to rely on users to report breakage with systems
at the older end of the range.  However even Ubuntu 4.10 should be
sufficiently new to have a relatively low risk of breakage.  (Having
claimed that I will now have to install a copy if I can find one!)

Please let me know what your thoughts are on this subject.


ORACLE Deutschland B.V. & Co. KG   Michael Thayer
Werkstrasse 24                     VirtualBox engineering
71384 Weinstadt, Germany           mailto:michael.thayer at oracle.com

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