Thursday, February 23, 2012

Using USB devices with Oracle VirtualBox

I've had a great experience with Oracle VirtualBox. But like all software it's not perfect. There are two problems I've experienced with it.  Here is how to fix them.

(1) Error messages when trying to start the VM after upgrading

This is something that all the VM companies seem to have trouble getting right - I had the same problem with Parallels. When you upgrade, the VM config file format changes and and your old config file may not be successfully upgraded to the new version - it becomes corrupted. There are a variety of errors you can receive.
Just create a new VM image from the start, and configure it to the the same as the old one. It can be a bit laborious, but it does ensure a stable VM.

(2) Trouble attaching USB devices (eg. memory sticks) to the VM

Detection of the specs of a particular USB device is a bit tenuous.

The secret is:
- download and install the VirtualBox Extension Pack matching your installed VirtualBox version
- set USB2 active
- create a 'filter'

 - remove ALL details from the filter record apart from the description

This should detect anything that is plugged in.
If you do want to filter for a particular device, I'd advise writing down the specs that it comes up with initially on connecting the device, then clearing them as above and adding back one by one.

Note also that if you want to switch off detection of USB devices altogether, just remove the tick from the profile/filter. That way you keep the profile for turning on again later.

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