Ubuntu: How to set up USB for Virtualbox?


I'm using Ubuntu Maverick and Virtual Box 3+. I have Windows 7 Ultimate. The problem is that it doesn't detect USB drives in Windows 7, but USB peripherals (mouse + keybord) are working.

I followed these instructions, but I can't find the user group vboxusers. How can I continue? I would also like to upgrade to the latest version without any risk (without losing my virtual hard disk drive).


USB in different versions of Virtual Box

For use of USB in Virtual Box 3.x you need a PUEL-version. From Virtual Box > 4.x USB 1.0 is supported in the OSE version installed from software center. For USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 (from Virtual Box > 5.x) we need to install an extension pack free for download from Oracle. This will make our Virtual Box a PUEL-Version (see this question on details on how to install Virtual Box from the Oracle repository).

To change settings of a virtual machine needs the guest to be powered off.

Become a "vboxuser"

To be able to get access to an attached USB device the Ubuntu host user needs to be in the vboxusers group. This can be done from Users and Groups after having installed the gnome-system-tools Install gnome-system-tools or from the command line by

sudo usermod -aG vboxusers <username>   

We need a reboot or logout/login for group membership to take effect. On a Windows host a special kernel module will provide USB access.

Activate USB support in Virtual Box Manager

We need to activate the virtual USB driver in our guest OS.

Note that we can only change these settings when the virtual machine is in shut down state.

In the USB settings from Virtual Box Manager tick "Enable USB Controller" For enabling the USB 2.0 driver also tick "Enable USB 2.0 (EHCI) Controller".

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Select host USB device for access from the guest

To grant access to USB devices we need to select a device to disable in the host and to enable in the guest (this is a precaution to avoid simultaneous access from host and guest). This can be done from the panel Devices menu or by right mouse click in the bottom panel of the Virtual Box Manager on the USB icon:

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Tick the device you need in the guest, untick it if you need it in the host. The selected device will immediately be accessible from the guest. A Windows guest may need additional drivers:

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  • Windows 7 needs an additional driver for USB 3.0 support.
  • Windows 10 does not accept an NTFS formatted USB pen drive.

Use USB filters for permanent access in the guest

By defining USB filters we can define USB devices that will automatically be presented to the guest when booting the guest OS.

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Click on the green + symbol on the right to add a known device.

Note, that some devices may lead to a boot failure of the guest. We can not use these devices for filters.

Read more on USB support in the Virtual Box User Manual.


  • Install gnome-system-tools b/c The old Users and Groups GUI is not available by default on 11.10

    sudo apt-get install gnome-system-tools  
  • After the installation finished Open user and groups from launcher

  • Select your username click on Manage Groups and select vboxusers and click add.

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  • logout/login to be able to use usb in vertualbox.


The vboxusers will be in the /etc/group file. You edit it with something like nano .

sudo nano /etc/group

Add your user to the vboxusers line, or create one if necessary.

As Takkat has pointed out, to get full USB device support, you'll need to install the full version of Virtualbox (not the OSE).

The ppa I have for the "official" virtualbox is here:

/etc/apt/sources.list.d/virtualbox-offical-source.list:    deb http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/debian maverick contrib #VirtualBox Offical Source  


I had the same problem. After trying all the other solutions I realised my problem.

I had downloaded virtualbox from the Ubuntu Software Center, which didn't have the latest version of virtualbox, so I had accidently downloaded the wrong version of "Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack".


  1. open virtualbox, click help, click about, find your virtualbox version number.
  2. Goto https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Download_Old_Builds_4_3 (replace "4_3" with your version).
  3. Download the "Extension Pack" that matches your virtualbox version.
  4. Install that, and it might ask you if you would like to downgrade, click yes.

Worked for me anyway.


In Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, after the initial install with

sudo apt install virtualbox virtualbox-guest-additions-iso  

I also had to:

sudo usermod -a -G vboxusers $USER  sudo apt install virtualbox-ext-pack  

Then I could enable USB 2/3 support in the machine settings.

What the virtualbox-ext-pack actually does, is download the required files from http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox and prompt you to accept the license before installing.


My solution was the following:

  1. Power off virtual machine
  2. Download the right extension pack
  3. Install extension pack
  4. Start virtual machine, put in Virtualbox guest additions and install them. If already installed, repeat the installation
  5. Shut down virtual machine
  6. Go to Settings>USB as shown in the images above and enable USB
  7. Boot virtual machine

If not working, restart your whole host system and try again. Worked fine for me. Watch out: At the first boot of the guest system after installing the guest additions, you will see all usb devices to choose, but it can take up to 10 minutes until the Windows guest activates them after you checked them. Just wait patiently.


For me on Kubuntu 16.04 (with virtualbox 5.0.24-dfsg-0ubuntu1.16.04.1 installed via apt) I had used VirtualBox before with USB passthrough working. However, I was no longer part of the virtualbox group (checked with cat /etc/group | grep vboxusers) and so used kdesudo kuser to add myself (can be done with sudo usermod -a -G virtualbox $USER too).

I then needed to logout and back in again to use the new group listings and authorise my access.

Now when doing VboxManage list usbhost it returns the usb devices instead of just "none"; also in the settings on VirtualBox I can choose connected USB devices to passthrough to the virtual OS. Yay!


I had the same problem and fixed it by clicking in the VirtualBox group of my user. You can access it installing gnome-system-tools (it does not come with Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin), either via the Ubuntu Software Center, Synaptic or by typing in the terminal:

sudo apt-get install gnome-system-tools  

Remember that to paste in the terminal you have to use CTRL+SHIFT+V, as opposed to CTRL+V

You will probably have to enter your password to allow the installation and add a Y (as in yes) to finish installing the packages.

Then you head to your Dash home and type users. You will see two applications. The good one is Users and Groups.

You then have to click on Advanced settings for your user and enter your password.

Now you will be shown a window with three tabs. Click on User Privileges. Find the line that says Use Virtualbox virtualization solution and then OK.

Change user group privileges

You may be asked to enter your password again. Then click on Close and log-out and log-in again.

When you start VirtualBox you should see a whole bunch of new USB devices.

Good luck!

Note:If u also have question or solution just comment us below or mail us on toontricks1994@gmail.com
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