Install Oracle VirtualBox And Manage It Using phpVirtualBox On Ubuntu 15.10 Headless Server


It is easy to install Oracle VirtualBox on any GUI Linux desktops, isn’t it? But, what about in a Linux Server that has no GUI? No worries! It is not that difficult either.

This step by step tutorial will teach you how to install Oracle VirtualBox on Ubuntu 15.10 headless server. The same procedure should work on Ubuntu 15.04 server and other older versions.

Here is my test box details:

  • Operating System: Ubuntu 15.10 64 bit Server (No GUI)
  • IP Address:

Preparing Ubuntu 15.10 Server

Before installing VirtualBox, we have to do a couple of tasks.

First of all, update your server with command:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade -y

Now, install the following prerequisites which will need by oracle VirtualBox.

sudo apt-get install build-essential dkms unzip -y

Reboot your server once to take effect all the changes.

Install Oracle VirtualBox on Ubuntu 15.10 server

Edit /etc/apt/sources.list file:

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

Add the latest oracle virtualbox repository to your Ubuntu server. You can download the oracle virtualbox latest repository from here.

I am running Ubuntu 15.10, so I added the following line.

deb wily contrib

Add the virtualbox public key:

wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add -

Now, update the repository and install latest oracle virtualbox version.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install virtualbox-5.0

After installing virtualbox, add the system user, for example sk, to the vboxusers group. sk is the system normal user that I have created already. You can create and use a separate new user of your choice. If you use different user, log out and log in back to that user and do the rest of the steps.

sudo usermod -aG vboxusers sk

Now, run the following command to check if virtualbox kernel modules are loaded or not.

sudo systemctl status vboxdrv


sudo /etc/init.d/vboxdrv status

Sample output:

● vboxdrv.service - VirtualBox Linux kernel module
 Loaded: loaded (/usr/lib/virtualbox/; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
 Active: active (exited) since Thu 2015-11-26 16:38:30 IST; 42s ago

Nov 26 16:38:29 server systemd[1]: Starting VirtualBox Linux kernel module...
Nov 26 16:38:30 server systemd[1]: Started VirtualBox Linux kernel module.
Nov 26 16:38:30 server[15008]: Starting VirtualBox kernel modules....
Hint: Some lines were ellipsized, use -l to show in full.

If it, not loaded, run the following command to load them:

sudo /etc/init.d/vboxdrv setup

Install Oracle VirtualBox Extension pack

Starting with VirtualBox 4.0, we should install Extension pack to manage and connect our remote guest consoles via web interface. This Extension pack provides the following functionalities to the VirtualBox guests.

  • The virtual USB 2.0 (EHCI) device
  • VirtualBox Remote Desktop Protocol (VRDP) support
  • Host webcam passthrough
  • Intel PXE boot ROM
  • Experimental support for PCI passthrough on Linux hosts

VirtualBox extension pack should be same version as VirtualBox base package. Download Extension pack for VirtualBox 5 from here.


Then, Install Extension pack as shown below.

sudo VBoxManage extpack install Oracle_VM_VirtualBox_Extension_Pack-5.0.10-104061.vbox-extpack

Sample output:

Successfully installed "Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack".

That’s it. Oracle VirtualBox and Extension pack have been installed successfully on our Ubuntu 15.04 server. Start using Oracle VirtualBox!

Create and manage VMs from command line

First, let us create a Ubuntu 14.04 server VM with 512MB RAM and 8GB virtual hdd.

To do that, run:

VBoxManage createvm --name "Ubuntu 14.04" --register

Sample output:

Virtual machine 'Ubuntu 14.04' is created and registered.
UUID: c5f89cfd-b0ee-40da-93b8-d4d3a5324bea
Settings file: '/home/sk/VirtualBox VMs/Ubuntu 14.04/Ubuntu 14.04.vbox'

Next, assign the RAM size and network card mode(Bridge or NAT).

VBoxManage modifyvm "Ubuntu 14.04" --memory 512 --acpi on --boot1 dvd --nic1 bridged --bridgeadapter1 eth0

Assign virtual hard drive size.

VBoxManage createhd --filename Ubuntu_14_04.vdi --size 8000

Sample Output:

Disk image created. UUID: 8d48aef4-eb92-4181-aed1-63ccbae0f2b1

Add Storage controller:

VBoxManage storagectl "Ubuntu 14.04" --name "IDE Controller" --add ide

Attach the Virtual hard drive file(vdi) to the storage controller using command:

VBoxManage storageattach "Ubuntu 14.04" --storagectl "IDE Controller" --port 0 --device 0 --type hdd --medium /home/sk/Ubuntu_14_04.vdi

Now, Assign the Ubuntu ISO media using command:

VBoxManage storageattach "Ubuntu 14.04 Server" --storagectl "IDE Controller" --port 1 --device 0 --type dvddrive --medium /home/sk/ubuntu-14.04-server-i386.iso

That’s it. The new VM has been created.

To know about VBoxManage command, run:

VBoxManage --help

Or, refer the Official guide.

Now, start the VM using command:

VBoxHeadless --startvm "Ubuntu 14.04"

To stop a running VM, enter the following command:

VBoxManage controlvm "Ubuntu 14.04" poweroff

Similarly we can pause a VM, using command:

VBoxManage controlvm "Ubuntu 14.04" pause

To reset a VM, enter:

VBoxManage controlvm "Ubuntu 14.04" reset

To learn more about VBoxHeadless options, run:

VBoxHeadless --help

Sample output:

Oracle VM VirtualBox Headless Interface 4.3.28
(C) 2008-2015 Oracle Corporation
All rights reserved.

   -s, -startvm, --startvm <name|uuid>   Start given VM (required argument)
   -v, -vrde, --vrde on|off|config       Enable (default) or disable the VRDE
                                         server or don't change the setting
   -e, -vrdeproperty, --vrdeproperty <name=[value]> Set a VRDE property:
                                         "TCP/Ports" - comma-separated list of ports
                                         the VRDE server can bind to. Use a dash between
                                         two port numbers to specify a range
                                         "TCP/Address" - interface IP the VRDE server
                                         will bind to
   --settingspw <pw>                     Specify the settings password
   --settingspwfile <file>               Specify a file containing the settings password
   -c, -capture, --capture               Record the VM screen output to a file
   -w, --width                           Frame width when recording
   -h, --height                          Frame height when recording
   -r, --bitrate                         Recording bit rate when recording
   -f, --filename                        File name when recording. The codec used
                                         will be chosen based on the file extension

For more details, refer the official manual.

Creating and managing VMs from the command line mode might be bit difficult and time consuming method for some lazy administrators. If you are one of them, there is another way to create and manage VMs in the headless from a Remote system web browser using a tool called “phpvirtualbox”.

What is phpVirtualBox?

phpVirtualBox is an open source, web-based client written using PHP. It can be used to manage and administer Oracle VirtualBox headless instances.

Install phpVirtualBox

Before installing phpVirtualBox, we have to install Apache web server and PHP.

sudo apt-get install apache2 php5 php5-mysql libapache2-mod-php5 php-soap

Restart the web server to take effect the changes.

sudo systemctl restart apache2


sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

Now, Download the latest version from the phpVirtualBox official site.


Extract the zip file using the following command:


Move the extracted folder to your apache root folder.

sudo mv phpvirtualbox-5.0-3 /var/www/html/phpvirtualbox

Give full rights to the phpvirtualbox folder.

sudo chmod 777 /var/www/html/phpvirtualbox

Restart all services to take effect the changes.

sudo systemctl restart vboxweb-service
sudo systemctl restart vboxdrv
sudo systemctl restart apache2

Configure phpVirtualBox

Edit phpVirtualBox config.php file:

sudo cp /var/www/html/phpvirtualbox/config.php-example /var/www/html/phpvirtualbox/config.php
sudo nano /var/www/html/phpvirtualbox/config.php

Change the username/password for system user that runs VirtualBox. In our case, the username/password is sk/ubuntu.

var $username = 'sk';
var $password = 'ubuntu';

Save and close the file.

Create a file called /etc/default/virtualbox:

sudo nano /etc/default/virtualbox

Append the following line:


Now, start vboxweb-service, and make it to start automatically on every reboot.

sudo systemctl status vboxweb-service


sudo /etc/init.d/vboxweb-service start

Sample output:

Starting VirtualBox web service ...done.

Access phpVirtualBox Web console

Now, go to any client systems that has installed with GUI desktop environements, and try to access the URL http://ip-address-of-virtualbox-headless-server/phpvirtualbox from the web browser.

Now, try again the same URL mentioned above. The following screen should appear. Enter the username/password.

The default username/password is admin/admin.

phpVirtualBox – VirtualBox Web Console – Google Chrome_001

Here it is how my phpVirtualBox dashboard looks like.

phpVirtualBox – VirtualBox Web Console – Google Chrome_002

From here, you can create, modify, delete, and manage virtual machines as the way you do in the normal VirtualBox GUI application.

Creating sample Virtual Machine

Let us create a sample virtual machine to install Ubuntu 14.04 Server.

Click on the New button on the top left corner and enter the Virtual machine name.

phpVirtualBox – VirtualBox Web Console – Google Chrome_002

Enter the VM name and select version etc.

phpVirtualBox – VirtualBox Web Console – Google Chrome_003

Set the Memory size for the virtual machine.

phpVirtualBox – VirtualBox Web Console – Google Chrome_004

You can either create a new hard drive file or select one from the list or from another location using the folder icon. The recommended size of the hard drive is 8 GB.

Here, I am going to create a new hard drive. So, Select “Create a virtual hard drive now” option.

phpVirtualBox – VirtualBox Web Console – Google Chrome_005

Please choose the type of file that you would like to use for the new virtual hard drive. If you do not need to use it with other virtualization software you can leave this setting unchanged.

phpVirtualBox – VirtualBox Web Console – Google Chrome_006

Choose whether the new virtual hard drive file should grow as it is used (dynamically allocated) or it should be created at its maximum size (fixed size).

phpVirtualBox – VirtualBox Web Console – Google Chrome_007

Enter the size of the virtual hdd.

phpVirtualBox – VirtualBox Web Console – Google Chrome_008

That’s it. The virtual machine has been created. Start installing the OS, and use the virtual machine.

phpVirtualBox – VirtualBox Web Console – Google Chrome_009

phpVirtualBox tool will definitely help the system administrators who are working on headless remote Ubuntu server. Using phpVirtualBox, you can easily run virtual machines as many as your hardware supports from your headless Ubuntu server. Unfortunately, phpVirtualBox only allows you to create 32bit guests at present. if you want to deploy, 64bit guests, follow the command line way. It was not difficult either.

Reference Links: