Headless Start

Headless Mode for Virtual Machines of VirtualBox – Thomas …

VirtualBox offers exceptional options for managing virtual machines (VMs) from the command line using the VBoxManage utility. [1] Headless mode is a useful feature for starting virtual machines. Thereby, the virtual machine will not be started from the VirtualBox GUI, but rather from the command line. A graphical popup window with the virtual machine’s console will not appear. Instead, a connection will be initiated through a remote desktop or SSH connection.
VirtualBox Remote Display Protocol (VRDP)
Installing Extension Packs
Displaying a virtual machine started in headless mode can be achieved through VRDP. [2] To be able to use VRPDP, the extension package for VirtualBox must have been installed. It can be downloaded from the download page and installed by means of the VirtualBox GUI:
If the VirtualBox remote display extension has not been activated, the procedure can be repeated by means of:[2]
~$ VBoxManage modifyvm “VM name” –vrde on
Starting and Connecting to the Virtual Machine
After the successful installation of VRDP, a virtual machine can be started in headless mode. The name of the virtual machine will be given in the first step:
~$ VBoxManage list vms
“ubuntu-server” {763d57b9-8eef-4572-8e71-f33fea89e950}
In this example, there is a virtual machine named “ubuntu-server”. The subsequent number is its UID.
Headless mode can be activated afterwards in one of two manners:
~$ VBoxHeadless -s ubuntu-server
Oracle VM VirtualBox Headless Interface 4. 1. 8
(C) 2008-2011 Oracle Corporation
All rights reserved.
VRDE server is listening on port 3389.
~$ VBoxManage startvm ubuntu-server –type headless
Waiting for VM “ubuntu-server” to power on…
VM “ubuntu-server” has been successfully started.
The virtual machine will now be running, however display output will not be shown. Instead, one connects to the machine through RDP or SSH (assuming that corresponding network and SSH configurations) exist.
~$ ssh tktest@192. 168. 56. 101
In this example, the virtual machine has one Host-only-Adapter, which will automatically get an IP address from the DHCP server when the virtual machine is started. For that reason, the running SSH server for the virtual machine can be reached without any problems. This connection will also work through SSH, if VRDE has not been activated for the virtual machine.
Connection to a virtual machine via RDP will only work when VRDE has been activated for the virtual machine. After that, any RDP client can be used for connecting to the local host or using the IP address for the host on the virtual machine:
A connection is created via RDP for starting the virtual machine in headless mode.
↑ VBoxManage (Oracle VM VirtualBox User Manual, Chapter 8)
↑ 2. 0 2. 1 Remote virtual machines: Remote display (VRDP support) (Oracle VM VirtualBox User Manual, Chapter 7)
Why is Virtualbox start mode not detachable by default - Super User

Why is Virtualbox start mode not detachable by default – Super User

Virtualbox has three start modes:
normal (with a window for the VM but window cannot be closed)
headless start (no window for the VM, but you can see a screenshot in VBox UI)
detachable start (a mix of the above two; window can be closed without turning off VM)
I was wondering, why do they have these three options when the third one satisfies the first and second? Is it possible there are also performance reasons?
In other words, why should I ever need to use the other options?
asked Jan 26 ’16 at 8:18
ChristianChristian5241 gold badge4 silver badges11 bronze badges
You can read why in the current version of the user manual for the startvm command:
Starts a VM with detachable UI (technically it is a headless VM with user interface in a separate process). This is an experimental feature as it lacks certain functionality at the moment (e. g. 3D acceleration will not work).
So, yes, this is still a new feature and it is missing some of the features a fully attached GUI provides.
answered Jan 27 ’16 at 7:36
heavydheavyd59. 3k17 gold badges146 silver badges168 bronze badges
(Not enough reputation to comment here, so apologies for the “new answer” instead)
This isn’t an option in the UI, but is an option in the command line tool.
VBoxManage modifyvm “vmname” –defaultfrontend headless
Sets the VM named “vmname” to headless start if you just click the big green Start button
VBoxManage modifyvm “vmname” –defaultfrontend separate
Sets the VM named “vmname” to detachable start if you just click the big green Start button
VBoxManage modifyvm “vmname” –defaultfrontend gui
Resets the VM named “vmname” to the default integrated (non-detachable) GUI start if you just click the big green Start button
answered Oct 28 ’20 at 23:22
The global or per-VM default value for the VM front end type will be taken if the type is not explicitly specified. If none of these are set, the GUI variant will be started.
The following values are allowed:
Starts a VM showing a GUI window. This is the default.
Starts a VM without a window for remote display only.
Starts a VM with a detachable UI. Technically, it is a headless VM with user interface in a separate process. This is an experimental feature as it lacks certain functionality, such as 3D acceleration.
Glorfindel3, 9918 gold badges22 silver badges37 bronze badges
answered Mar 16 ’19 at 18:45
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Chapter 7. Remote Virtual Machines - VirtualBox

Chapter 7. Remote Virtual Machines – VirtualBox

Chapter�7. �Remote Virtual Machines7. 1. �Remote Display (VRDP Support)
Oracle VM VirtualBox can display virtual machines remotely, meaning that
a virtual machine can execute on one computer even though the
machine will be displayed on a second computer, and the machine
will be controlled from there as well, as if the virtual machine
was running on that second computer.
For maximum flexibility, Oracle VM VirtualBox implements remote machine
display through a generic extension interface called the
VirtualBox Remote Desktop Extension (VRDE). The base open source
Oracle VM VirtualBox package only provides this interface, while
implementations can be supplied by third parties with
Oracle VM VirtualBox extension packages, which must be installed
separately from the base package. See
Section�1. 5, “Installing Oracle VM VirtualBox and Extension Packs”.
Oracle provides support for the VirtualBox Remote Display Protocol
(VRDP) in such an Oracle VM VirtualBox extension package.
VRDP is a backwards-compatible extension to Microsoft’s Remote
Desktop Protocol (RDP). As a result, you can use any standard RDP
client to control the remote VM.
Even when the extension is installed, the VRDP server is disabled
by default. It can easily be enabled on a per-VM basis either in
the VirtualBox Manager in the
Display settings, see
Section�3. 6, “Display Settings”, or with the
VBoxManage command, as follows:
$ VBoxManage modifyvm VM-name –vrde on
By default, the VRDP server uses TCP port 3389.
You will need to change the default port if you run more than one
VRDP server, since the port can only be used by one server at a
time. You might also need to change it on Windows hosts since the
default port might already be used by the RDP server that is built
into Windows itself. Ports 5000 through 5050 are typically not
used and might be a good choice.
The port can be changed either in the
Display settings of the graphical
user interface or with the –vrdeport option of
the VBoxManage modifyvm command. You can
specify a comma-separated list of ports or ranges of ports. Use a
dash between two port numbers to specify a range. The VRDP server
will bind to one of the available ports from
the specified list. For example, VBoxManage modifyvm
VM-name –vrdeport
5000, 5010-5012 configures the server to bind to one of
the ports 5000, 5010, 5011, or 5012. See
Section�8. 8, “VBoxManage modifyvm”.
The actual port used by a running VM can be either queried with
the VBoxManage showvminfo command or seen in
the GUI on the Runtime tab of the
Session Information dialog, which
is accessible from the Machine
menu of the VM window.
Oracle VM VirtualBox supports IPv6. If the host OS supports IPv6 the
VRDP server will automatically listen for IPv6 connections in
addition to IPv4.
7. �Common Third-Party RDP Viewers
Since VRDP is backwards-compatible to RDP, you can use any
standard RDP viewer to connect to such a remote virtual machine.
For this to work, you must specify the IP address of your
host system, not of the virtual machine, as
the server address to connect to. You must also specify the port
number that the VRDP server is using.
The following examples are for the most common RDP viewers:
On Windows, you can use the Microsoft Terminal Services
Connector,, that is included
with Windows. Press the Windows key + R, to display the
Run dialog. Enter
mstsc to start the program. You can also
find the program in Start,
All Programs,
Remote Desktop Connection.
If you use the Run dialog,
you can enter options directly. For example:
mstsc 1. 2. 3. 4:3389
Replace 1. 4 with the host IP address,
and 3389 with a different port, if
IPv6 addresses must be enclosed in square brackets to
specify a port. For example: mstsc
When connecting to localhost in order to test the
connection, the addresses localhost
and 127. 0. 1 might not work using
Instead, the address
127. 2[:3389] has to be used.
On other systems, you can use the standard open source
rdesktop program. This ships with most
Linux distributions, but Oracle VM VirtualBox also comes with a
modified variant of rdesktop for remote
USB support. See Section�7. 4, “Remote USB”.
With rdesktop, use a command line such as
the following:
$ rdesktop -a 16 -N 1. 4:3389
necessary. The -a 16 option requests a
color depth of 16 bits per pixel, which we recommend. For
best performance, after installation of the guest operating
system, you should set its display color depth to the same
value. The -N option enables use of the
NumPad keys.
You can use the Remmina remote desktop client with VRDP.
This application is included with some Linux distributions,
such as Debian and Ubuntu.
If you run the KDE desktop, you can use
krdc, the KDE RDP viewer. A typical
command line is as follows:
$ krdc rdp1. The rdp prefix is required
with krdc to switch it into RDP mode.
With Sun Ray thin clients you can use
uttsc, which is part of the Sun Ray
Windows Connector package. See the Sun Ray documentation for
7. �VBoxHeadless, the Remote Desktop Server
While any VM started from the VirtualBox Manager is capable of
running virtual machines remotely, it is not convenient to have
to run the full GUI if you never want to have VMs displayed
locally in the first place. In particular, if you are running
server hardware whose only purpose is to host VMs, and all your
VMs are supposed to run remotely over VRDP, then it is pointless
to have a graphical user interface on the server at all. This is
especially true for Linux or Oracle Solaris hosts, as the
VirtualBox Manager comes with dependencies on the Qt and SDL
libraries. This is inconvenient if you would rather not have the
X Window system on your server at all.
Oracle VM VirtualBox therefore comes with a front-end called
VBoxHeadless, which produces no visible
output on the host at all, but still can optionally deliver VRDP
data. This front-end has no dependencies on the X Window system
on Linux and Oracle Solaris hosts.
In legacy releases of Oracle VM VirtualBox, the headless server was
called VBoxVRDP. For backwards
compatibility, the Oracle VM VirtualBox installation still includes
an executable with that name.
To start a virtual machine with VBoxHeadless,
you have the following options:
Use the VBoxManage command, as follows:
$ VBoxManage startvm VM-name –type headless
The –type option causes Oracle VM VirtualBox to
use VBoxHeadless as the front-end to the
internal virtualization engine, instead of the Qt front-end.
Use the VBoxHeadless command, as follows:
VBoxHeadless –startvm uuid|vmname
This way of starting the VM helps troubleshooting problems
reported by VBoxManage startvm, because
you can sometimes see more detailed error messages,
especially for early failures before the VM execution is
started. In normal situations VBoxManage
startvm is preferred, since it runs the VM
directly as a background process which has to be done
explicitly when directly starting with
VBoxHeadless. The full documentation of
the command is in Section�7. 3, “VBoxHeadless”.
Start VBoxHeadless from the VirtualBox
Manager GUI, by pressing the Shift key when starting a
virtual machine or by selecting
Headless Start from the
Machine menu.
When you use the VBoxHeadless command to
start a VM, the VRDP server will be enabled according to the VM
configuration. You can override the VM’s setting using
–vrde command line parameter. To enable the
VRDP server, start the VM as follows:
VBoxHeadless –startvm uuid|vmname –vrde on
To disable the VRDP server:
VBoxHeadless –startvm uuid|vmname –vrde off
To have the VRDP server enabled depending on the VM
configuration, as for other front-ends:
VBoxHeadless –startvm uuid|vmname –vrde config
This command is the same as the following:
If you start the VM with VBoxManage startvm
then the configuration settings of the VM are always used.
7. �Step by Step: Creating a Virtual Machine on a Headless Server
The following instructions describe how to create a virtual
machine on a headless server over a network connection. This
example creates a virtual machine, establishes an RDP connection
and installs a guest operating system. All of these tasks are
done without having to touch the headless server. You need the
following prerequisites:
Oracle VM VirtualBox on a server machine with a supported host
operating system. The Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack for the
VRDP server must be installed, see Section�7. 1, “Remote Display (VRDP Support)”.
The procedures assume a Linux server is used.
An ISO file accessible from the server, containing the
installation data for the guest operating system to install.
Windows XP is used in the example.
A terminal connection to that host through which you can
access a command line, such as ssh.
An RDP viewer on the remote client. See
Section�7. 1, “Common Third-Party RDP Viewers” for examples.
Note that on the server machine, since we will only use the
headless server, Qt and the X Window system are not required.
On the headless server, create a new virtual machine. For
VBoxManage createvm –name “Windows XP” –ostype WindowsXP –register
If you do not specify –register, you will
have to manually use the registervm
command later.
You do not need to specify –ostype, but
doing so selects some sensible default values for certain VM
parameters. For example, the RAM size and the type of the
virtual network device. To get a complete list of supported
operating systems you can use the following command:
VBoxManage list ostypes
Make sure the settings for the VM are appropriate for the
guest operating system that we will install. For example:
VBoxManage modifyvm “Windows XP” –memory 256 –acpi on –boot1 dvd –nic1 nat
Create a virtual hard disk for the VM. For example, to
create a 10 GB virtual hard disk:
VBoxManage createhd –filename “” –size 10000
Add an IDE Controller to the new VM. For example:
VBoxManage storagectl “Windows XP” –name “IDE Controller”
–add ide –controller PIIX4
Set the VDI file you created as the first virtual hard disk
of the new VM. For example:
VBoxManage storageattach “Windows XP” –storagectl “IDE Controller”
–port 0 –device 0 –type hdd –medium “”
Attach the ISO file that contains the operating system
installation that you want to install later to the virtual
machine. This is done so that the VM can boot from it.
–port 0 –device 1 –type dvddrive –medium /full/path/to/
Enable the VirtualBox Remote Desktop Extension, the VRDP
server, as follows:
VBoxManage modifyvm “Windows XP” –vrde on
Start the virtual machine using the
VBoxHeadless command:
VBoxHeadless –startvm “Windows XP”
If the configuration steps worked, you should see a
copyright notice. If you are returned to the command line,
then something did not work correctly.
On the client machine, start the RDP viewer and connect to
the server. 1, “Common Third-Party RDP Viewers” for details
of how to use various common RDP viewers.
The installation routine of your guest operating system
should be displayed in the RDP viewer.
As a special feature additional to the VRDP support,
Oracle VM VirtualBox also supports remote USB devices over the wire.
That is, an Oracle VM VirtualBox guest that runs on one computer can
access the USB devices of the remote computer on which the VRDP
data is being displayed the same way as USB devices that are
connected to the actual host. This enables running of virtual
machines on an Oracle VM VirtualBox host that acts as a server, where
a client can connect from elsewhere that needs only a network
adapter and a display capable of running an RDP viewer. When USB
devices are plugged into the client, the remote Oracle VM VirtualBox
server can access them.
For these remote USB devices, the same filter rules apply as for
other USB devices. See Section�3. 11. 1, “USB Settings”. All you
have to do is specify Remote, or Any, when setting up these
Accessing remote USB devices is only possible if the RDP client
supports this extension. On Linux and Oracle Solaris hosts, the
Oracle VM VirtualBox installation provides a suitable VRDP client
called rdesktop-vrdp. Some versions of
uttsc, a client tailored for the use with Sun
Ray thin clients, also support accessing remote USB devices. RDP
clients for other platforms will be provided in future
Oracle VM VirtualBox versions.
To make a remote USB device available to a VM,
rdesktop-vrdp should be started as follows:
rdesktop-vrdp -r usb -a 16 -N
See Section�12. 7. 5, “USB Not Working” for further details on how
to properly set up the permissions for USB devices. Furthermore
it is advisable to disable automatic loading of any host driver
on the remote host which might work on USB devices to ensure
that the devices are accessible by the RDP client. If the setup
was properly done on the remote host, plug and unplug events are
visible in the file of the VM.
7. 5. �RDP Authentication
For each virtual machine that is remotely accessible using RDP,
you can individually determine if and how client connections are
authenticated. For this, use the VBoxManage
modifyvm command with the
–vrdeauthtype option. 8, “VBoxManage modifyvm”. The following methods of
authentication are available:
The null method means that
there is no authentication at all. Any client can connect to
the VRDP server and thus the virtual machine. This is very
insecure and only to be recommended for private networks.
The external method
provides external authentication through a special
authentication library. Oracle VM VirtualBox ships with two
special authentication libraries:
The default authentication library,
VBoxAuth, authenticates against user
credentials of the hosts. Depending on the host
platform, this means the following:
On Linux hosts,
authenticates users against the host’s PAM system.
On Windows hosts,
authenticates users against the host’s WinLogon
On Mac OS X hosts,
authenticates users against the host’s directory
In other words, the external method by default performs
authentication with the user accounts that exist on the
host system. Any user with valid authentication
credentials is accepted. For example, the username does
not have to correspond to the user running the VM.
An additional library called
VBoxAuthSimple performs
authentication against credentials configured in the
extradata section of a virtual
machine’s XML settings file. This is probably the
simplest way to get authentication that does not depend
on a running and supported guest. The following steps
are required:
Enable VBoxAuthSimple with the
following command:
VBoxManage setproperty vrdeauthlibrary “VBoxAuthSimple”
To enable the library for a particular VM, you must
switch authentication to external, as follows:
VBoxManage modifyvm VM-name –vrdeauthtype external
Replace VM-name with the
VM name or UUID.
You then need to configure users and passwords by
writing items into the machine’s extradata. Since
the XML machine settings file, into whose
extradata section the password
needs to be written, is a plain text file,
Oracle VM VirtualBox uses hashes to encrypt passwords. The
following command must be used:
VBoxManage setextradata VM-name “VBoxAuthSimple/users/user” hash
VM name or UUID, user
with the user name who should be allowed to log in
and hash with the
encrypted password. The following command example
obtains the hash value for the password
$ VBoxManage internalcommands passwordhash “secret”
You then use VBoxManage
setextradata to store this value in the
machine’s extradata section.
As a combined example, to set the password for the
user john and the machine
My VM to
secret, use this command:
VBoxManage setextradata “My VM” “VBoxAuthSimple/users/john”
The guest authentication
method performs authentication with a special component that
comes with the Guest Additions. As a result, authentication
is not performed on the host, but with the guest user
This method is currently still in testing and not yet
In addition to the methods described above, you can replace the
default external authentication module with any other module.
For this, Oracle VM VirtualBox provides a well-defined interface that
enables you to write your own authentication module. This is
described in detail in the Oracle VM VirtualBox Software Development
Kit (SDK) reference. See Chapter�11, Oracle VM VirtualBox Programming Interfaces.
RDP features data stream encryption, which is based on the RC4
symmetric cipher, with keys up to 128-bit. The RC4 keys are
replaced at regular intervals, every 4096 packets.
RDP provides the following different authentication methods:
RDP 4 authentication was
used historically. With RDP 4, the RDP client does not
perform any checks in order to verify the identity of the
server it connects to. Since user credentials can be
obtained using a man in the middle (MITM) attack, RDP4
authentication is insecure and should generally not be used.
RDP 5. 1 authentication
employs a server certificate for which the client possesses
the public key. This way it is guaranteed that the server
possess the corresponding private key. However, as this
hard-coded private key became public some years ago, RDP 5. 1
authentication is also insecure.
RDP 5. 2 or later
authentication uses Enhanced RDP Security, which means that
an external security protocol is used to secure the
connection. RDP 4 and RDP 5. 1 use Standard RDP Security. The
VRDP server supports Enhanced RDP Security with TLS protocol
and, as a part of the TLS handshake, sends the server
certificate to the client.
The Security/Method VRDE property sets
the desired security method, which is used for a connection.
Valid values are as follows:
Negotiate. Both
Enhanced (TLS) and Standard RDP Security connections are
allowed. The security method is negotiated with the
client. This is the default setting.
RDP. Only Standard RDP
Security is accepted.
TLS. Only Enhanced RDP
Security is accepted. The client must support TLS.
The version of OpenSSL used by Oracle VM VirtualBox supports
TLS versions 1. 0, 1. 1, 1. 2, and 1. 3.
For example, the following command enables a client to use
either Standard or Enhanced RDP Security connection:
vboxmanage modifyvm VM-name –vrdeproperty “Security/Method=negotiate”
If the Security/Method property is set to
either Negotiate or TLS, the TLS protocol will be
automatically used by the server, if the client supports
TLS. However, in order to use TLS the server must possess
the Server Certificate, the Server Private Key and the
Certificate Authority (CA) Certificate. The following
example shows how to generate a server certificate.
Create a CA self signed certificate.
openssl req -new -x509 -days 365 -extensions v3_ca \
-keyout -out
Generate a server private key and a request for signing.
openssl genrsa -out
openssl req -new -key -out
Generate the server certificate.
openssl x509 -req -days 365 -in \
-CA -CAkey -set_serial 01 -out
The server must be configured to access the required files.
For example:
vboxmanage modifyvm VM-name \
–vrdeproperty “Security/CACertificate=path/”vboxmanage modifyvm VM-name \
–vrdeproperty “Security/ServerCertificate=path/”vboxmanage modifyvm VM-name \
–vrdeproperty “Security/ServerPrivateKey=path/”
As the client that connects to the server determines what type
of encryption will be used, with rdesktop,
the Linux RDP viewer, use the -4 or
-5 options.
7. �Multiple Connections to the VRDP Server
The VRDP server of Oracle VM VirtualBox supports multiple simultaneous
connections to the same running VM from different clients. All
connected clients see the same screen output and share a mouse
pointer and keyboard focus. This is similar to several people
using the same computer at the same time, taking turns at the
The following command enables multiple connection mode:
VBoxManage modifyvm VM-name –vrdemulticon on7. 8. �Multiple Remote Monitors
To access two or more remote VM displays you have to enable the
VRDP multiconnection mode. 7, “Multiple Connections to the VRDP Server”.
The RDP client can select the virtual monitor number to connect
to using the domain login parameter
(-d). If the parameter ends with
@ followed by a number, Oracle VM VirtualBox
interprets this number as the screen index. The primary guest
screen is selected with @1, the first
secondary screen is @2, and so on.
The Microsoft RDP 6 client does not let you specify a separate
domain name. Instead, enter
in the Username field. For
example, @2\name.
name must be supplied, and must be
the name used to log in if the VRDP server is set up to require
credentials. If it is not, you may use any text as the username.
7. 9. �VRDP Video Redirection
The VRDP server can redirect video streams from the guest to the
RDP client. Video frames are compressed using the JPEG algorithm
allowing a higher compression ratio than standard RDP bitmap
compression methods. It is possible to increase the compression
ratio by lowering the video quality.
The VRDP server automatically detects video streams in a guest
as frequently updated rectangular areas. As a result, this
method works with any guest operating system without having to
install additional software in the guest. In particular, the
Guest Additions are not required.
On the client side, however, currently only the Windows 7 Remote
Desktop Connection client supports this feature. If a client
does not support video redirection, the VRDP server falls back
to regular bitmap updates.
The following command enables video redirection:
VBoxManage modifyvm VM-name –vrdevideochannel on
The quality of the video is defined as a value from 10 to 100
percent, representing a JPEG compression level, where lower
numbers mean lower quality but higher compression. The quality
can be changed using the following command:
VBoxManage modifyvm VM-name –vrdevideochannelquality 757. 10. �VRDP Customization
You can disable display output, mouse and keyboard input, audio,
remote USB, or clipboard individually in the VRDP server.
The following commands change the corresponding server settings:
$ VBoxManage modifyvm VM-name –vrdeproperty Client/DisableDisplay=1
$ VBoxManage modifyvm VM-name –vrdeproperty Client/DisableInput=1
$ VBoxManage modifyvm VM-name –vrdeproperty Client/DisableUSB=1
$ VBoxManage modifyvm VM-name –vrdeproperty Client/DisableAudio=1
$ VBoxManage modifyvm VM-name –vrdeproperty Client/DisableClipboard=1
$ VBoxManage modifyvm VM-name –vrdeproperty Client/DisableUpstreamAudio=1
To reenable a feature, use a similar command without the
trailing 1. For example:
$ VBoxManage modifyvm VM-name –vrdeproperty Client/DisableDisplay=
Oracle VM VirtualBox supports teleporting.
Teleporting is moving a virtual machine over a network from one
Oracle VM VirtualBox host to another, while the virtual machine is
running. This works regardless of the host operating system that
is running on the hosts. You can teleport virtual machines between
Oracle Solaris and Mac OS X hosts, for example.
Teleporting requires that a machine be currently running on one
host, which is called the source. The host to
which the virtual machine will be teleported is called the
target. The machine on the target is then
configured to wait for the source to contact the target. The
machine’s running state will then be transferred from the source
to the target with minimal downtime.
Teleporting happens over any TCP/IP network. The source and the
target only need to agree on a TCP/IP port which is specified in
the teleporting settings.
At this time, there are a few prerequisites for this to work, as
On the target host, you must configure a virtual machine in
Oracle VM VirtualBox with exactly the same hardware settings as the
machine on the source that you want to teleport. This does not
apply to settings which are merely descriptive, such as the VM
name, but obviously for teleporting to work, the target
machine must have the same amount of memory and other hardware
settings. Otherwise teleporting will fail with an error
The two virtual machines on the source and the target must
share the same storage, hard disks as well as floppy disks and
CD/DVD images. This means that they either use the same iSCSI
targets or that the storage resides somewhere on the network
and both hosts have access to it using NFS or SMB/CIFS.
This also means that neither the source nor the target machine
can have any snapshots.
To configure teleporting, perform the following steps:
On the target host, configure the virtual
machine to wait for a teleport request to arrive when it is
started, instead of actually attempting to start the machine.
This is done with the following VBoxManage
VBoxManage modifyvm targetvmname –teleporter on –teleporterport port
targetvmname is the name of the
virtual machine on the target host and
port is a TCP/IP port number to be
used on both the source and the target hosts. For example, use
6000. See Section�8. 8, “VBoxManage modifyvm”.
Start the VM on the target host. Instead of running, the VM
shows a progress dialog, indicating that it is waiting for a
teleport request to arrive.
Start the VM on the source host as usual.
When it is running and you want it to be teleported, issue the
following command on the source host:
VBoxManage controlvm sourcevmname teleport –host targethost –port port
where sourcevmname is the name of
the virtual machine on the source host, which is the machine
that is currently running.
targethost is the host or IP name
of the target host on which the machine is waiting for the
teleport request, and port must be
the same number as specified in the command on the target
host. 13, “VBoxManage controlvm”.
For testing, you can also teleport machines on the same host. In
that case, use localhost as the hostname on both the source and
the target host.
In rare cases, if the CPUs of the source and the target are very
different, teleporting can fail with an error message, or the
target may hang. This may happen especially if the VM is running
application software that is highly optimized to run on a
particular CPU without correctly checking that certain CPU
features are actually present. Oracle VM VirtualBox filters what CPU
capabilities are presented to the guest operating system.
Advanced users can attempt to restrict these virtual CPU
capabilities with the VBoxManage modifyvm
–cpuid command. See
Oracle VM VirtualBox remote desktop server. VBoxHeadless [–startvm= [ uuid | vmname]] [–vrde= on | off | config] [–vrdeproperty=prop-name=[prop-value]] [–settingspw=[password]] [–settingspwfile=password-file] [–start-paused=vmname] [–capture] [–width=width] [–height=height] [–bitrate=bit-rate] [–filename=filename]
The VBoxHeadless command is an alternate front
end that enables you to remotely manage virtual machines (VMs).
The front end is a CLI rather than the VirtualBox Manager
graphical user interface (GUI).
For information about using this command, see
Section�7. 2, “VBoxHeadless, the Remote Desktop Server”.
–startvm=uuid | vmname
Specifies the Universally Unique Identifier (UUID) or name
of the VM to start.
Use the VBoxManage list vms command to
obtain VM information.
The short versions of this option are -s
and -startvm.
–vrde=on | off | config
Specifies how to use the VRDP server. The default value is
config. Valid values are as follows:
on enables the VRDP server.
VBoxHeadless –startvm=vmname –vrde=onoff disables the VRDP server.
VBoxHeadless –startvm=vmname –vrde=offconfig enables the VRDP server
depending on the VM configuration.
VBoxHeadless –startvm=vmname –vrde=config
The short version of this option is -v.
Specifies a value for one of the following properties:
The TCP/Ports property value is a
comma-separated list of ports to which the VRDE server
can bind. Use a hyphen (-) between
two port numbers to specify a range of ports.
The TCP/Address property value is
the interface IP address to which to bind the VRDE
Specifies a settings password to access encrypted
settings. If you do not specify the password on the
command line, VBoxHeadless prompts you
for the password.
Specifies the file that contains the settings password.
Starts the specified VM in the paused state.
Records the VM screen output to a file. In addition to
this option, you must use the –filename
option to specify the name of the file.
Specifies the frame width of the recording in pixels. This
option is associated with the –capture
Specifies the frame height of the recording in pixels.
This option is associated with the
–capture option.
Specifies the bit rate of the recording in kilobits per
second. This option is associated with the
Specifies the name of the file in which to store the
recording. The codec used is based on the file extension
that you choose. You must specify this option if you use
the –capture option.
The following command starts the ol7u4 VM:
$ VBoxHeadless –startvm “ol7u4”
The following command starts the ol7u6 VM in
the Paused state.
$ VBoxHeadless –startvm “ol7u6” –start-paused
The following command starts the ol7u6 VM and
records the session. The recording is saved to the
ol7u6-recording WebM file.
$ VBoxHeadless –startvm “ol7u6” –capture –filename

Frequently Asked Questions about headless start

What is a headless start?

Headless mode is a useful feature for starting virtual machines. Thereby, the virtual machine will not be started from the VirtualBox GUI, but rather from the command line. A graphical popup window with the virtual machine’s console will not appear.Jun 2, 2021

What is headless start and detachable start?

Virtualbox has three start modes: normal (with a window for the VM but window cannot be closed) headless start (no window for the VM, but you can see a screenshot in VBox UI) detachable start (a mix of the above two; window can be closed without turning off VM)

How do I start a VM under headless mode?

To start a virtual machine with VBoxHeadless, you have the following options:Use the VBoxManage command, as follows: $ VBoxManage startvm VM-name –type headless. … Use the VBoxHeadless command, as follows: VBoxHeadless –startvm uuid | vmname.More items…

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