Preparing your Computer for VirtualBox
Installing VirtualBox
Importing a Virtual Machine with VirtualBox
Using VirtualBox Virtual Machines
Troubleshooting Issues with VirtualBox

This guide deals primarily with issues related to the VirtualBox hypervisor. Other hypervisors may be used to run our Virtual Machines, such as VMware, KVM, hyper-V, Parallels, but we do not provide technical support for those.
This guide is not intended to provide detailed steps for every item on every operating system. It is meant as a general guide, and you will have to google to find the procedure for your particular operating system and computer model.
Remember this terminology: The host is your computer on which you are running VirtualBox. A guest is a Virtual Machine running on your host that you imported into VirtualBox.

Preparing your Computer for VirtualBox

Before getting started with VirtualBox, there is a few things you will want to check on your host computer. Checking these before attempting to install and run your virtual machine reduces the chance that something will go wrong.

If you have already tried to install VirtualBox, and you received an error, or the virtual machine is running very slowly, these preparation steps may help with your problems.

  • Enable Processor Virtualization: Ensure Virtualization is enabled on your Computer. See the Virtualization Error (VT-d/VT-x or AMD-V) in the Trouble-Shooting section below for instructions.
  • Disable OneDrive, DropBox Sync, iCloud, etc If you are using a data synchronization service, make sure it does not (or at least not frequently) synchronize the folder in which you have VirtualBox import and run the Virtual Machines. This can cause a dramatic fall-off of performance for you entire system as these services try to synchronize these massive files.
  • Sufficient Disk Space: Virtual Machines require a significant amount of Disk space (10 GB or more each). Ensure you have sufficient space on your computer

Installing VirtualBox

Click Here for a video tutorial on installing VirtualBox and running a course VM.

Please complete BOTH of these steps to install VirtualBox:

  1. Download and install the latest VirtualBox for your host OS from
  2. Download the VirtualBox Extension Pack from
    Open Preferences… -> Extensions and click the little Add New Package button, then browse to the Extension Pack you just downloaded and follow the instructions
    IMPORTANT: ALL of the SCS Virtual Machines require the Extension Pack which provides critical tools and drivers for the Virtual Machines.

WARNING: It is important to update VirtualBox each term. Older version of VirtualBox are not tested with our newer Virtual Machines. Older Virtual Machines generally+ work fine with newer version of VirtualBox.

Importing a Virtual Machine with VirtualBox

Click Here for a video tutorial on installing VirtualBox and importing a course VM.

To import one of the SCS Virtual Machines as a guest into VirtualBox (which you already installed using the VirtualBox Installation steps above), follow these steps:

  1. Download the Virtual Machine for your course from our Course Virtual Machines page. This will download the .ova file which – if you are curious – is a compressed tarball of the Virtual Machine exported from VirtualBox
  2. In VirtualBox go to File -> Import Appliance (or press CTRL-I)
  3. In the Appliance Import Window that opens, click the folder icon to browse for the .ova file you just downloaded, then click Next
  4. Do NOT change any of the Appliance Settings, these have already been optimized for most systems
    Click Import
    NOTE: Importing an Appliance can take 5-10 minutes depending on the speed of your computer and the size of the Virtual Machine
  5. When the import is complete, you will see the new Virtual Machine guest in VirtualBox’s guest list.

Using VirtualBox Virtual Machines

Starting a Virtual Machine

To start-up a Virtual Machine guest, simply click on the desired one and click the Start button (or double-click the Virtual Machine). Some of our larger Virtual Machines can take up to a minute to boot up the linux operating system and show you the login screen. It the boot-up is a lot slower, or if the performance when logged into the Virtual Machine Desktop or Shell is poor, then consult the Trouble-Shooting section below.

Using a Virtual Machine

How you use a Virtual Machine will depend on your course, so consult your TAs. Some useful things to know:

  • Sharing files between the guest and host: To learn about different ways of sharing files, check out this guide. To quickly get a folder that is shared between the host and guest on your own PC, check out this quick-start guide.
  • Create a Host-Only Adapter: For information on network adapters in VirtualBox, click here. To get started fast, check out this quick-start guide on creating a host-only adapter.
  • Run a command with sudo (root) privileges: Open a terminal and type any command with sudo in front to run that command as root.
    Example: sudo apt-get install vim – will install the vim text editor package on an ubuntu linux Virtual Machine
  • Find the IP address of your Host-Only Network connection: Open a terminal and type ifconfig | more – The | more (pronounced “pipe more”) will “pipe” the output of the ifconfig command to the more command which will show the results one page at a time, so it doesn’t scroll by before you see it all.
    If you have a Host-Only Network IP address you will see an IP of (or something similar). Check the Trouble-Shooting section below for more information about the Host-Only Network.

Shutting down a Virtual Machine

When you are done using a Virtual Machine, you need to shut it down properly. This can be done in three ways:

  1. Press the the shut down button found on the desktop, task bar, or task menu of the guest operating system
  2. Open a terminal and type the command: sudo shutdown -h now
  3. In the guest window click Machine (menu) -> ACPI Shutdown – This will simulate the power button being pressed

WARNING: If you shutdown a guest operating system any other way, such as by just pressing the “X” button on the guest window or File (menu) -> Close, this is the same as pulling the power cord out of your desktop computer. This can result in hard drive errors depending on what the guest operating system was doing when you killed it.
NOTE: Some of our VMs can take as much as a minute to shut down depending on what the system was doing, please be patient.

Troubleshooting Issues with VirtualBox

For a curated list of Virtual Machine troubleshooting steps and quick-start guides, click here.

These are some of the most frequent issues when getting started with VirtualBox:

  • Extension Pack Missing
    • If you receive this error, or your system is running sluggishly, the extension pack may not be installed.
    • Follow the Installation Steps or watch the VirtualBox setup video and make sure to follow the instructions for installing the extension pack.
  • Virtualization Error (Intel VT-d/VT-x or AMD-V)
    • This issue can appear with different error messages or could contribute to poor system performance.
    • Follow the Troubleshooting Steps
  • Graphics Controller (VMSVGA) Settings
    • For best performance, you should enable the VMSVGA, instructions available here
    • Sometimes your graphics controller can contribute to crashing, boot errors, or very poor performance. If you encounter these issues, try changing your graphics controller using the instructions found in the Graphics Controller Troubleshooting Steps

Virtual Machine Troubleshooting Articles

Below is a list of all of the current virtual machine help articles. For a compact and curated view, visit the troubleshooting and guides page.