[vbox-dev] Co-existence of distribution-installed Guest Additions and Oracle-provided ones

Michael Thayer michael.thayer at oracle.com
Thu Jun 15 10:47:04 GMT 2017

Hello Gianfranco,

15.06.2017 11:49, Gianfranco Costamagna wrote:
[Discussion of replacing distribution-provided kernel modules.]
>> Currently, our installation script aborts if
>> /usr/sbin/vbox-uninstall-guest-additions returns failure.  We could
>> slightly refine this, by splitting that into two exit codes: a code of
>> "1" to say that the distribution thinks it is providing up-to-date
>> Additions (which would probably involve checking an end-of-support date
>> for the Additions in the distribution), and "2" to tell the installer to
>> abort.  In both cases it would probably make sense to assume we have a
>> terminal and print a message - for instance, print instructions telling
>> the user how to uninstall the distribution Additions and return "2".
> ack

"Ack" as in something you are likely to implement when you have time?

>> Any thoughts about that?  How realistic does it seem to you to keep the
>> Additions up-to-date in in-support Debian and Ubuntu releases?  Since
>> Debian and Ubuntu kernels have (if I am not mistaken) a module ABI which
>> is not broken in every kernel update it might make sense to package the
>> modules separately again and match them to the current kernel ABI.
> the kernel modules are inside the linux source (In Ubuntu), so they are already
> provided with the kernel, and from time to time (each new vbox release ideally)
> I request to sync them with the new kernel modules, so on the next linux
> update they go in older ubuntu releases.

That will work well if the kernel package is updated relatively
frequently, which is probably the case.

> wrt vbox, I keep it up-to-date from time to time on older Ubuntu releases with micro
> new releases
> e.g. now Ubuntu has
> 4.1.44 Lucid
> 4.3.36 Trusty/Vivid
> 5.0.40 Xenial
> 5.1.22 Zesty/Artful.

>From my point of view it would make most sense to always track the most
recent stable release.  4.1.44 for example is long out of support, and
we try to make sure that any supported Additions version will work with
any supported version of VirtualBox, so 5.1 Additions should work with
VirtualBox 5.0.  We do not test this extensively, but we would take bug
reports against it (I don't think there has ever been one).  And of
course, there is no logical requirement for you to package the same
version (even major version) of VirtualBox, the main (host) software and
of the Guest Additions.  Whether that makes sense from a Debian/Ubuntu
policy point of view is another question of course.

And while we are on the subject, is it worth looking at things that we
(the team at Oracle) could do to make the Additions easier to package?
That also extends to the main software to some extent, as our Linux
packaging is one of the too many things I am involved in.


> Debian has no vbox anymore in stable, so I don't care because they will have the latest
> one in unstable.
> G.

Michael Thayer | VirtualBox engineer
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