Question on Assigning USB HW to Virtual boxes

Michael Torrie torriem at
Mon Oct 7 09:03:26 MDT 2013

On 10/07/2013 02:54 AM, Dan Egli wrote:
> That sounds like a likely candidate. I've only used VMWare server before
> (the free one, not expensive GSX server), so I have no experience with
> Virtual Box. Can you tell me five things about it?
> 1) Will it allow you to setup a network interface that acts as a pass
> through to the host network (i.e. if the HOST box gets as it's
> IP, can the guest OS use, on the same network) without using
> bridges or the like?

That is by definition a bridge.

But yes, VirtualBox does what you ask about, and it sets it all up

> 2) Does it simply pass the MAC of the HOST network interface as the MAC to
> the guest boxes (VMWare server does that), or does it generate new MAC
> addresses for it's boxes? If it does generate new MAC addresses, is there a
> place where those can be seen/changed on the HOST file system?

VMWare hosts all have unique mac addresses from the host.  So does
VirtualBox.  And like VMware, you can change it in VirtualBox.  It's
stored in the XML file

> 3) Does VirtualBox allow you to start it, and it's machines, as soon as the
> computer boots up?

Not directly, but you can write a little script to do it using the
VBoxManage and VBoxHeadless commands.  Note that you'd have to set up a
script on shutdown that would save the states of the virtual machines
(or shut them down).

> 4) Does VirtualBox allow for Copy-on-Write to it's hdd image files? (VMWare
> server doesn't, but I hear GSX server does)

Yes, but my understanding is you have to use command-line tools to set
up the virtual disk file.

> 5) Does VirtualBox maintain the USB connections between system boots? I.e.
> if the system goes down (say due to power failure), then comes back up,
> will the rebooted systems automatically get their assigned USB devices
> back? Or would I have to reconnect them manually?


> I appreciate the information on this! It's going to be a big help!

Given your list of requirements here, I think the stock KVM and libvirt
(with virt-manager) stuff that comes with most Linux distributions might
fit your needs better than VirtualBox (with the exception of USB 2.0
support).  VirtualBox is intended to run a virtual machine as a desktop
app.  IE you fire it up when needed, then suspend it when not in use.
And then you can run your windows apps in coherence mode so they can
integrate better into your linux desktop experience.

VirtualBox can run headless, but at that point you may as well be using
KVM which has better init script support, and is designed to run in a
server fashion.

I use RDP to access my KVM windows VMs, and that enables sound, file,
and print sharing without any special setup.

In any case, you can easily play with either system (probably at the
same time).  Just install and have fun experimenting.  Docs are very
good for both VirtualBox and KVM.

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