virtualbox and the latest 14.04… display stuck at low resolution

EDIT: 28/03/14 – Virtualbox 4.3.10 is now out – it is recommended to download this now together with 4.3.10 virtualbox guest additions and the issue below is resolved 🙂

However – it is also likely that if you just download the 4.3.7 or later guest additions and install in your v4.2 or 4.3 series this should work – but remember this is an unsupported configuration.

EDIT: 8/09/14 – as one commenter mentioned some people have been also had luck with the following package install:

sudo apt-get install virtualbox-guest-dkms

Restart the VM afterwards.


The latest updates of Ubuntu 14.04 is broken in virtualbox 4.3.6 – the screen no longer resizes and is fixed at a very low resolution. It also appears all previous versions of virtualbox that is available in the repositories are also affected.

Attempts to reinstall the virtualbox guest additions does not fix the issue. Instead in the terminal you see this error:

Building the VirtualBox Guest Additions kernel modules
The headers for the current running kernel were not found. If the following
module compilation fails then this could be the reason.

Building the main Guest Additions module ...done.
Building the shared folder support module ...done.
Building the OpenGL support module ...done.
Doing non-kernel setup of the Guest Additions ...done.
You should restart your guest to make sure the new modules are actually used

Installing the Window System drivers
Warning: unknown version of the X Window System installed.  Not installing
X Window System drivers.
Installing modules ...done.
Installing graphics libraries and desktop services components ...done.
Press Return to close this window...

It appears the the latest version of Xorg breaks the virtualbox graphics driver.

EDIT: there is also this bug (https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/virtualbox/+bug/1282758)

Fortunately this is fixed in a test build of the virtualbox guest additions – version 4.3.7 (and later) together with installing the latest gcc library

sudo apt-get install libgcc-4.8-dev

Grab a copy of the ISO from this virtualbox ticket.  Connect the ISO to your virtualbox VM – and the guest additions including the graphics driver will update correctly.  Enjoy!

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25 thoughts on “virtualbox and the latest 14.04… display stuck at low resolution

  1. Is there a way to do this without the guest additions, due to this being in a corporate environment, we can not install guest additions without licensing them, which is not an option.

    Or is there a Virtual Box / Ubuntu version combination that is not impacted by this?

    • if you use “sudo apt-get install virtualbox-guest-dkms” – this should also install the opensource equivalent graphics drivers. Obviously you will not have shared-folder support etc but the graphics issues should be resolved.

  2. Hi all i need help i download the virtual box and the ubuntu 14.04 amd64. now after the install the resolution is 640×480 and cant change it. i use the command sudo apt-get install virtualbox-guest-dkms but nothing and i got that msg ( reading package lists COMPLETED
    construction TREE dependence
    reading description of the current situation was completed
    undiscoverable PACKAGE virtualbox-guest-dkms) so plz if anyone know how can fix this plz tell me. Also sorry if my english is bad

  3. Thanks for posting this. I cannot try this, though, because I’m unable to enter the bash terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T doen’t work). The virtual machine seems to not react at all and due to the low screen resolution I see nothing except the desktop background. Any suggestions?

    • If CTRL+ALT+T doesnt work then you’ve got an unexpected lockup issue – does the full unity desktop appear?

      You can also get to the command line via one of the TTY’s – thus use Right CTRL + F2-F6 and login.

      • Hey! Thanks for the quick reply (didn’t expected that)! Tried CTRL + F2 – F6 but didn’t work. I don’t see anything except backtround after login (login works)…

        No input is accepted (including right click on background)…

        Another idea? If not, don’t sweat it. I have an additional Win8 notebook and there VirtualBox + Ubuntu works fine. Only have this issue on Win7 64 desktop.

  4. I’m going to have to try this. I’ve been working around stuff and nothing just works. I hope this is a real fix.

  5. The sudo string in terminal worked great. For those who are still having a problem using that approach, make sure you shut down the virtual instance and restart it to let it load up all that “guest addition goodness”.

    • I cannot get my screen to resize and I have done nearly everything that I have found. I am using a Macbook pro OSX Mavericks with Virtual Box 4.3.2 r90405. I installed Linux distro Ubuntu v14.04LTS. I tried to install VBoxGuestAdditions_4.3.8_RC1.iso but I still cannot resize. Installation of the Windows System Drivers produces a warning of: unknown x window system installed. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you

      • the combination of virtualbox 4.3.2 and vboxguestadditions 4.3.8 is not supported. Try the attaching vboxguestaddtions 4.3.10 iso to your ubuntu guest – then install virtualbox linux driver on /media/VBOX… … but it is more likely to work if you also install virtualbox 4.3.10 as well.

    • your command works for me too – ubuntu 14.04 virtualbox 4.3.12 r93733. Screen resolution automatically resizes with the window size

  6. Hi!
    Sorry to say it’s not working. I just installed version 4.3.10 of virtual box and guest additions but I’m stuck with a low resolution of 640×480.

    What could I do ?
    Thank you.

    • check the usual things – the VM must have 3D acceleration switched on and set the video graphics to 128Mb. If it still doesnt work, then file a bug report with virtuabox-oracle. The issue is probably due to an interaction with your current host graphics card/driver.

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