Running Windows® via VirtualBox™ on Userful MultiSeat Linux™

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Copyright © 2011-2015 Userful Corporation. All rights reserved.
(Updated 2015.09.28)

Windows 7® is a Registered Trademark of Microsoft Corporation.
VirtualBox™ is a Trademark of Oracle Corporation.


This page gives an overview of VirtualBox™ installation on Linux and presents some aspects specific to Userful Multiseat Linux.

Important opening notes

VirtualBox is a 3rd party software application that can be run on top of Userful Multiseat Linux. VirtualBox is an opensource application and accessible without charge like many other free software applications.

Use of VirtualBox with Userful MultiSeat Linux is intended for occasional access to secondary guest operating systems (such as Microsoft Windows®) from within or alongside a Linux desktop environment. Customers are responsible for researching and ensuring proper licensing compliance with whatever guest operating systems they choose to run (for example if you choose to run a Microsoft operating system please see for more information on licensing that OS for use within a virtual machine).

Userful recommends customers use Linux for their day-to-day work and only use Windows (running via VirtualBox) when the particular application they need to run is not available for Linux.

VirtualBox is Not a Userful-supported Product

Userful does not charge any fee for virtual machine functionality but also does not at this time offer commercial support for this 3rd party product. Userful only supports its Userful MultiSeat application and Userful MultiSeat's shared computing functionality. All of the other included applications such as VirtualBox, the Linux operating system and applications that come with the Linux operating system are included free of charge for customer convenience.

Customers may choose to purchase commercial support for VirtualBox from Oracle or instead use it for free and/or make use of members of the open-source community to ask questions and obtain help.

Userful has tested VirtualBox with a broad variety of Microsoft Windows Applications, but there will inevitably be some applications that do not work either in combination with VirtualBox or in combination with VirtualBox and Userful Multiseat Linux. Userful recommends that its partners or customers test needed applications and required use-cases in advance of purchasing.

Here are some known limitations to using Microsoft Windows on VirtualBox in Userful MultiSeat:

  • USB pass-through is not supported, meaning USB keys or devices attached to zero client devices will not be easily accessible from within the virtual machine. Customers may be able to manually pass through a USB key (or other USB devices) after it has been plugged in, however this process is not simple nor automated.
  • VirtualBox does not provide any built-in integrated Windows image management features. Customers will need to maintain their own Windows images. We suggest that VirtualBox be set up to use cloned images that reset to a pristine clone after each use, and that files be saved to a network storage area. In this way only one virtual image needs to be maintained; otherwise you will need to separately administer each image each time you want to install applications, or make another global change. This can become time consuming if you have large numbers of Windows images.
  • more information and ideas on how to clone disk images can be found here:

  • Extra RAM is needed to have a high number of stations running VirtualBox simultaneously (3 GB memory should be alloted for the host machine and 1 GB memory for each of the stations using VirtualBox concurrently. 8GB minimum RAM is therefore needed to run 5 instances of VirtualBox).

Userful would certainly like to hear about any issues faced while using VirtualBox. Virtualization is an active area of development for Userful and we always take customer suggestions and feedback into consideration.

When To Use

Occasionally, as part of Linux deployments, organizations wish to ensure that students/schools will also have access to other operating systems, such as Windows, on an as-needed basis. On a multiseat computer, choosing the right technology to offer users this "Windows OS" access has important cost, maintenance, and training implications.

There are many scenarios in which running Windows (i.e., in VirtualBox) within Linux is a reasonable option such as:

  • Required Windows applications are highly complex and therefore don't behave properly when running under Linux (eg. Using Wine)
  • Required Windows applications depend on a Windows driver
  • The customer is not willing to use an Open Source equivalent
  • Required Windows applications have no Open Source equivalent
  • When there is the necessity to switch between Windows and Linux without re-starting the system as explained here


Step 1: Enable virtualization technology within the BIOS (if available); this will allow us to have a Windows 64 bit running on 64 bit hardware.

Ee955 vt bios.jpg

If this is successfully enabled on your processor, the following command will output either vmx or svm:

egrep -o "vmx|svm" /proc/cpuinfo

Step 2: Install kernel source packages for Linux, (eg. for Userful MultiSeat Linux 2011 64bit you would download the following packages this and this)

On a debian-based system, you can check if you have the header files for your running kernel installed with the following command:

dpkg -l linux-headers* | grep `uname -r`

Step 3: Download and install VirtualBox and Extension packages from (Install v4.1)

  1. Download the Oracle VirtualBox from the link below and save in the desired location.
  2. Download the VirtualBox extension package from the link below to the desired location.
  3. Select “virtualbox-4.1_4.1.8-75467~Ubuntu~lucid_amd64.deb”, right click and install with GDebi Package Installer.
  4. Select “Oracle_VM_VirtualBox_Extension_Pack-4.1.8-75467.vbox-extpack”, right click and select "open with other application". Then select Oracle Virtualbox in the listed applications.
  5. Now Oracle Virtualbox and its Extension packages are installed.

Step 4: Start VirtualBox from the terminal.

  • Open the terminal and type sudo virtualbox to open root user’s virtualbox.
    • (Note : All the virtual machines must be created under the root user’s virtualbox to access physical network card support. If this is not done, other users virtual machine's will not have access to local area network.)

Step 5: For instructions on how to create a virtual machine, follow the Creating your first virtual machine section within the VirtualBox manual

  • if you get the VirtualBox "driver is not installed" error message, you need to run:
sudo /etc/init.d/vboxdrv setup

Step 6: To enable USB, you need to add users to the "vboxusers" group. For example, if the admin user (with administrative privileges) is named "userful" you'd need to run:

sudo usermod -a -G vboxusers userful

and, do the same for the other users in Userful MultiSeat Linux.

sudo usermod -a -G vboxusers student01
sudo usermod -a -G vboxusers student02
sudo usermod -a -G vboxusers student03

Also, you need to add the users to the cdrom group in order to use VirtualBox properly:

sudo usermod -a -G cdrom student01
sudo usermod -a -G cdrom student02
sudo usermod -a -G cdrom student03

Step 7: Reboot

Notes on Using VirtualBox

  • Audio does not work in virtual machines.
  • To release the mouse pointer from the virtual environment, press the "Ctrl" key:
  • To enable USB filtering, you need to right click on the icon of the virtual image and then select "settings", then go to the USB section to you can add a filter. Select the device that you want to filter to the virtual environment (the device needs to be connected in order to be visible in that list).


  • To copy the virtual image into another user's folder, choose the File->Export Appliance option, then, choose File->Import Appliance from the user's account and choose the .ova file created by the original user (note that two users cannot run the same virtual machine at the same time, they need to have 1 copy each). Always make sure the resulting .ova file can be read and written by other users.
  • Hardware acceleration in the Guest OS will not work because 3D hardware acceleration is not supported by Userful MultiSeat Linux in multiseat devices (it could work on the main station of newer computers using integrated Intel video cards).
  • It is possible to filter a USB device connected to a USB port in a multiseat device (e.g. Atrust m202) or connected directly to a Motherboard's USB port (Userful MultiSeat Linux 2011 does not seem to interfere with VirtualBox USB filtering; however, when filtering a USB device to VirtualBox it will no longer be visible within Userful MultiSeat Linux).
  • For best performance, is better to install an additional solid state hard disk and mount just the /home directory on it (100 GB minimum). That way the virtual machines will run off the additional hard drive and the system will not lag when performing additional operations outside VirtualBox.
  • When choosing the amount of RAM, consider 1 GB of RAM for each planned VirtualBox instance plus 0.5 GB for the Userful station it will be running on, so, if you were planning on running 4 VirtualBox instances, it would be a good a idea to install 6 GB of RAM (always choose 1 GB of RAM when creating the virtual machine).
  • To enable proper full-screen and shared folders support, install the Guest additions once the Guest is up and running.


  • To enable sharing folders (sharing a folder from Userful MultiSeat Linux to the Windows VirtualBox as guest), click the "settings" options (with the virtual machine turned off), then click the "Shared folders" options, afterwards, you will see a window like the one the left. Next, when the virtual machine is up and running, go to "My Computer" and you should see the shared folder as illustrated in the picture on the right...


Creating root access in VirtualBox without passwords

Root access is required for each station that is going to access the internet.

Creating root access without a password means users don't need to enter a password when they start VirtualBox.

  1. Open the terminal as the admin user.
  2. Get root access by typing “sudo bash” and giving password.
  3. Type “sudo visudo”
  4. Add the following line to the END of the file (if not at the end, it can be nullified by later entries):
    <username> ALL=NOPASSWD: ALL“, replace username with your username. For exp “student01 ALL=NOPASSWD: /usr/bin/VBoxSDL
    • Replace <username> with your username. For example student01 ALL=NOPASSWD: /usr/bin/VBoxSDL“
  5. Type in ^x to exit. This should prompt for an option to save the file, type in Y to save.
  6. Log out, log back in. This should now allow you to run the root VirtualBox without being prompted for a password.

Adding "root access VirtualBox" to the start menu

Adding root access into the start menu will mean when users launch VirtualBox, they will have root access and therefore internet access.

This must be repeated for each user. For example:

  • if you have 5 stations, you have to create 5 virtual machines under root virtualbox and each virtual machine has to be allocated for individual users.
    • Create vm1,vm2,vm3,vm4,vm5 under root virtualbox.
    • Then login to student01 user and follow the instructions below. Repeat for student02, student03, student04, student05.
  1. Click System->Preference->Main Menu.
  2. In Menus tab, click Accessories.
  3. Click New Item and type “Root Virtualbox” in Name tab.
  4. Type root VBoxSDL –startvm <virtual machine name>in the command and then click OK.
  5. Now you can find “Root VirtualBox” in Application->Accessories.
  6. This entry can also be added in System->Preferences->Startup Applications to open automatically once user is logged in.

Questions and Answers

Q: Am I better to use windows XP or Windows 7? What are the performance advantages of windows XP?

  • A Windows 7 graphics will consume more system resources, so depending upon the customer needs, it may be better to use XP.

Q: How much RAM do I need per simultaneous windows image?

  • A When choosing the amount of RAM, consider 1 GB of RAM for each planned VirtualBox instance plus 0.5 GB for the Userful station it will be running on. So, if you were planning on running 4 VirtualBox instances, it would be a good a idea to install 6 GB of RAM. For 10 stations, it would be a good idea to install 16. (Always choose 1 GB of RAM when creating the virtual machine).

Q:How does the network work with VirtualBox?

  • A The network is configured as a NAT (Network Address Translation). Each instance will have it's own private network. That is, none of the instances will be able to contact each other and no machine on the network will be able to contact the VM. The VM itself will be able to access the internet and possibly other machines on the local network.

Q: Can you assign each user a dedicated memory size and then lock those settings so that the user cannot change them?

  • A: This is not possible because we can only remove the menu option in VirtualMachine windows once it is powered, but the settings can still be changed in the VirtualBox window.

Q: Can VirtualBox access shared domains?

  • A: As long as VirtualBox can get internet access, it can login to any Windows domain.

Q: Is it possible to restrict access to desktop icons, application etc?

  • A: Yes, this is possible by setting up the Main Menu in System -> Preferences.

Q: Is it possible to prevent students from making any change in the settings of VirtualBox?

  • A: This is not possible. You can only remove the menu option in the Virtual Machine windows once the virtual machine is powered on, but then the settings can be changed in the VirtualBox window.

Q:When the user logs in, is it possible for VirtualBox to open up automatically?

  • A: This is possible by setting up VirtualBox in Startup Applications located in System -> Preferences.

Q: Can we make local USB storage devices visible only to the user logged in?

  • A: Yes.

Q:Can you create a folder allowing you to save from VirtualBox onto the local machine hard drive?

  • A: By creating a shared folder in the local machine, VM user files can be saved in the local machine.
  1. Open file browser in Ubuntu,
  2. Create a new folder.
  3. Right click the folder and select "share" option, then enable the "share" option.

Q:Can applications be installed on the independent images?

  • A: It is possible to install applications on the independent images.
  1. Place your Optical media or USB media in the host PC.
  2. Power on the VM in which it needs to be installed.
  3. In the Menu Devices option, You can find the Optical drive option & USB drive options. 4. In the drive options, find the optical drive name or USB device name.
  4. Just click the drive and it will be connected to the VM.
  5. Now Install the applications from the drive.

Q: Does this support network printing?

  • A: The answer to this question is based on the operating system of the image. There's no reason VirtualBox shouldn't print through a network printer.