Ubuntu – How to display the whole desktop in Virtual Box fullscreen mode


I am running Ubuntu 12.04 in VirtualBox 4.2.6 on a Windows 7 host. After installing Ubuntu I wanted to get the VB interface in fullscreen. I therefore installed guest additions from Virtual Box Manager (devices > install guest additions -> run –> reboot).

But after booting I can only see a part of the desktop without menus. In addition I am asked again to install the guest additions after every reboot (the guest additions CD reappears even though I had removed it).

Editing the resolution in system settings via right click > appearance -> all settings (since I can only partially see the desktop) the actual resolution changes but the whole desktop still does not fit.

Do I have to uninstall/reinstall the guest additions? What other options do I have?

Best Answer

To be able to scale the screen geometry, and to enable fullscreen mode of a Virtual Box guest Ubuntu we need to install the guest additions:

In case this fails we may try to reinstall guest additions, and watch out for errors we may get when doing so. Older versions of Virtual Box may be incompatible with either the graphics drivers from the host, or with the guest Ubuntu version. We then have the following options we may try the follwing:

  • Make sure we have 3D-acceleration enabled in the virtual machine settings, and allow enough of video memory:

    enter image description here

  • How do I install the VirtualBox version from Oracle to install an Extension Pack?

  • Update the guest operation system from command line (hold left Shift key on booting to enter a root shell) and then run:

      apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade
  • In rare cases we may have a better performance with an older Ubuntu release, or a more lightweight derivate such as Lubuntu, or Xubuntu.

After having installed the guest additions the guest OS needs a reboot for the virtual driver to be loaded. We then should be able to resize or scale the guest screen, or enter full screen mode with Host + F.

Also see Adjusting display geometry in a virtual machine? for additional options to adjust screen geometry.

Note: Pre-release alpha versions of Ubuntu are likely to not yet perform as expected.