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Mount USB Devices in Virtualbox with Ubuntu

Mounting a USB device inside a virtual machine is often a tool that you cannot go without. If you are using Virtualbox in Ubuntu however, you need to take a few extra steps to make it work.

Install Virtualbox

The first thing you need to do is install Virtualbox from Oracle’s website. It is different than Virtualbox OSE which is included in the Ubuntu repositories because the Virtualbox from Oracle includes proprietary software which allows you to mount USB devices inside you VM among other things. If you already have Virtualbox OSE installed from the Ubuntu repositories, uninstall it before installing the .deb file from Oracle’s website.

Note: Any VMs you made with Virtualbox OSE will still work with the standard version of Virtualbox. Uninstall Virtualbox OSE before installing virtualbox from Oracle.

Set up Your Virtual Machine

Install your virtual machine and once the installation is complete install the Virtualbox guest additions into the guest OS from the devices menu.

Turn the virtual machine off and go to the settings for the VM. Click on USB on the left and check the top two boxes in the window shown.

Along the right hand side there will be a few icons to set up USB filters. These filters are where you can tell Virtualbox what USB devices you want to have available to your guest OS. Plug in your USB device and click on the second icon to view available USB devices that can be mounted into the guest OS.

Select any devices you would like to mount in the guest OS and then close out of the settings window.

Set Up Your User Account

The next thing you need to do is add your user to the vboxusers group on your system. Navigate to the System -> Administration -> Users and Groups option and click on manage groups on the left side.

Scroll down in the group settings and highlight the vboxusers group and then click properties on the right.

In most cases you probably will only have one user so check the box to include your user in the group; put in your admin password when prompted, and then restart your computer.

Mount Your USB Device

Once your computer restarts, log in and start your virtual machine. In the devices menu of the VM, select the USB device you want to mount.

Your device should show up automatically in the VM and you can use it the same way you would be able to on the host operating system.

Virtualbox Website

Justin is a Linux and HTPC enthusiast who loves to try new projects. He isn't scared of bricking a cell phone in the name of freedom.

  • Published 10/18/10

Comments (16)

  1. Jimmy

    Thank you!!! Exactly what I need!

  2. dana ross

    I am so grateful to you for this article.
    I have been trying to run Canon software that allows me to shoot with my camera tethered to my laptop, allowing live views of the shots on my monitor. I had Virtual Box running and configured to use my USB devices but I hadn’t yet figured out how to join them onto the network. You came out with this article the day before a big shoot and I could do it all from my Ubuntu laptop.

    Fantastic! The right information, just in time. I’m very lucky. Clients were impressed, I was happy.

    Ubuntu Rules but one does need a little Geek help from time to time.

  3. Chris

    I have Windows 7 Ultimate, and I’m going to run Ubuntu 10.10 in Virtual Box on Windows 7

    Will this work on Windows as well?

  4. Michael

    This should, but doesn’t help. I had USB support working fine, and then it stopped. Naturally, all the above settings continue to be set. I can only imagine that synaptic updated my system and broke Virtualbox.

    I did uninstall adn rereinstall as per directions above. Time for me to go to VM. I waste toomuch time on VB.

  5. joni

    I don’t have any usb, under settings. anyone know why?

  6. aj

    This is an excellent, clear, concise tutorial that works exactly as advertised. Thanks so much!

  7. zane3021

    yes, thanks a lot for this post – I searched for “usb windows7 virtual box 4 ubuntu 10″ and finally found it… working nice, the transfer seems to be not usb2.0 as averages at 3.36 MB/second

  8. camrto

    on errors try restart everything. It worked for me. even i reinstalled kernel modules as sugested by VB
    sudo /etc/init.d/vboxdrv setup

    Thanks

  9. kpatch

    Great article! Worked exactly as described…almost.

    My VirtualBox installation is on a netbook running Ubuntu 10.4. To get the system to recognize the addition of my username, I had to restart the system.

    Once it restarted, i was even able to use my MagicJack.

  10. Larry

    When I start VirtualBox at the top it says file machine help
    When I start Ubuntu in VirtualBox it says Ubuntu running, nothing anywhere about devices.

    Larry

  11. E=mc^2

    Thanks a lot! It works! Perfect manual.

  12. rider skn

    >joni
    >I don’t have any usb, under settings. anyone know why?

    you first have to do the ‘Set Up Your User Account’ part, then you will be able to see the usb list

  13. megha

    I cannot connect internet on ubuntu 11.04 in vitrual box 4.1 with host as window 7.
    Can u pls tell how can I get this wokring.

  14. ozgur

    Thanks, it works for me :D

  15. Andrews

    I shall show my thanks for your constructive article.

  16. Silvain Dupertuis

    When you say «Add a user to your vboxusers group», I guess you mean on the host system – but it is not explictly said in the explanation.
    I have a Ubuntu guest in a Windows 7 host, so this should be a bit different…
    I have not yet been able to use an externel USB hard disk or USB key in the Ubuntu host
    Nevertheless, USB in general is working, as my Logitec Receiver (small ESB receiver for a wireless mouse) functions perfectly…

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