Running Ubuntu in VirtualBox at 2560 x 1600!

by Алекс Руис on June 10, 2010

Once I got my new PC last weekend, the first thing I did was to install Ubuntu 10.4 in VirtualBox (now updated to 3.2.4) in a Windows 7 host. Installation of both VirtualBox and Ubuntu was quick and painless. They just work. Since I have a 30′ monitor and a powerful video card, I wanted to run Ubuntu to the maximum resolution possible (2560 x 1600.) Unfortunately, the default settings only allowed me to set the display resolution to an awful 1024 x 768.

After a couple of days, I found some instructions on how to increase the screen resolution of a Ubuntu virtual machine. I basically had to:

  1. Install VirtualBox “Guest Additions”
  2. Add the desired screen resolution to the xorg.conf file

Since I’m a Linux/VirtualBox newbie, I followed the instructions carefully. In theory, I just needed to right-click the icon and select “Open with Autorun Prompt” to install the Guest Additions. Once I did that, I tried to edit the xorg.conf file, but my copy of Ubuntu didn’t have one! I found instructions on how to create a new one, but it never worked. I was completely sure I wanted to use Ubuntu as my primary desktop and I was not going to give up!

Finally I found out that I was not installing the Guest Additions correctly and that I didn’t have to edit any xorg.conf file. This precious link,, pointed me in the right direction.

Now the screen resolution of my Ubuntu virtual machine changes dynamically when I resize the VirtualBox window. I can turn on all visual effects as well. Here is a screenshot of my Ubuntu virtual machine, at 2560 x 1600 (click to enlarge)

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark Ferns June 10, 2010 at 10:56 am


It’s always nice to have feedback, especially when a posting has helped someone new to Linux. It’s a great OS and with some time spent using it, it can be very rewarding.

Welcome to the Linux community

Best of luck and enjoy.



Alex Ruiz June 10, 2010 at 11:57 am

Thanks Mark! I’m following you on Twitter :)



JCVersan June 10, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Hi Alex, I’m a happy Fest user, please can you share why use a virtual Linux instead of a full Linux installation? Thanks!

– JC


Alex Ruiz June 10, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Hey JC,

(Thanks for the comment on FEST) :)

The reasons I chose to have a virtual machine instead of a full installation are:

1. I still need to keep Windows, to use the image- and video-editing software I already own
2. My new PC comes with Win7 pre-installed, it would be a lot of work to switch to full Ubuntu and Win7 virtual machine
3. I could have set up dual-boot, but I find it annoying to reboot every time I want to switch OSes



Alex Ruiz June 10, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Oh! I forgot one of the most important ones! I need to fix a couple of Linux-specific bugs in FEST-Swing!


adam June 11, 2010 at 5:20 am

Another nice thing about VirtualBox is the full screen support. Use the default keyboard control, ‘right control + f’, to toggle between full screen to squeeze out a few more pixels for your VirtualBox session.


Alex Ruiz June 11, 2010 at 9:57 am

Hey Adam,

I just tried it and it’s awesome! It looks like a full Ubuntu installation (instead of virtual machine.)

Many thanks!


Raminder Singh June 23, 2010 at 1:44 am

Hey Alex,
I also tried using virtualBox for Ubuntu 10.4 (using downloaded .iso image). All the steps executed successfully but Ubuntu gets started in commnd-mode, not in GUI mode.

Is there any extra xconf/xserver settings required?



Alex Ruiz June 23, 2010 at 8:11 am

Hi Raminder,

I honestly have no clue (sorry.) Like I mentioned in the post, I’m new to Ubuntu and VirtualBox. My guess is it would be better to post this question in the VirtualBox forum.



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