VirtualBox Main API Documentation

Welcome to the VirtualBox Main API documentation. This documentation describes the so-called VirtualBox Main API which comprises all public COM interfaces and components provided by the VirtualBox server and by the VirtualBox client library.

VirtualBox employs a client-server design, meaning that whenever any part of VirtualBox is running -- be it the Qt GUI, the VBoxManage command-line interface or any virtual machine --, a dedicated server process named VBoxSVC runs in the background. This allows multiple processes working with VirtualBox to cooperate without conflicts. These processes communicate to each other using inter-process communication facilities provided by the COM implementation of the host computer.

On Windows platforms, the VirtualBox Main API uses Microsoft COM, a native COM implementation. On all other platforms, Mozilla XPCOM, an open-source COM implementation, is used.

All the parts that a typical VirtualBox user interacts with (the Qt GUI and the VBoxManage command-line interface) are technically front-ends to the Main API and only use the interfaces that are documented in this Main API documentation. This ensures that, with any given release version of VirtualBox, all capabilities of the product that could be useful to an external client program are always exposed by way of this API.

The VirtualBox Main API (also called the VirtualBox COM library) contains two public component classes: VirtualBox.VirtualBox and VirtualBox.Session, which implement IVirtualBox and ISession interfaces respectively. These two classes are of supreme importance and will be needed in order for any front-end program to do anything useful. It is recommended to read the documentation of the mentioned interfaces first.

The VirtualBox.VirtualBox class is a singleton. This means that there can be only one object of this class on the local machine at any given time. This object is a parent of many other objects in the VirtualBox COM library and lives in the VBoxSVC process. In fact, when you create an instance of the VirtualBox.VirtualBox, the COM subsystem checks if the VBoxSVC process is already running, starts it if not, and returns you a reference to the VirtualBox object created in this process. When the last reference to this object is released, the VBoxSVC process ends (with a 5 second delay to protect from too frequent restarts).

The VirtualBox.Session class is a regular component. You can create as many Session objects as you need but all of them will live in a process which issues the object instantiation call. Session objects represent virtual machine sessions which are used to configure virtual machines and control their execution.

The naming of methods and attributes is very clearly defined: they all start with a lowercase letter (except if they start with an acronym), and are using CamelCase style otherwise. This naming only applies to the IDL description, and is modified by the various language bindings (some convert the first character to upper case, some not). See the SDK reference for more details about how to call a method or attribute from a specific programming language.