VirtualBox 6.1 Released With 3D Improvements, Linux 5.4 Support

VirtualBox 6.1

A new major VirtualBox version has been released, bringing improvements for the new VBoxSVGA and VMSVGA graphics controllers, experimental support for file transfers via shared clipboard, support for Linux 5.4, and more.

VirtualBox is a x86 and AMD64/Intel64 virtualization software that runs on Windows, Linux, macOS and Solaris, and supports many guest operating systems, including Windows Linux, Solaris, OpenSolaris, OS/2 and OpenBSD.

The new VirtualBox 6.1 brings the ability to import a virtual machine from Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, by launching the Import Appliance feature. Also, the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure now has enhanced support for exporting a virtual machine to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, allowing the creation of multiple VMs without re-uploading.

Another significant improvement in this release is enhanced support for nested hardware virtualization. This allows you to install a hypervisor like VirtualBox or KVM, on a VirtualBox guest, so you can then create and run virtual machines in the guest virtual machine. This release adds support for Intel CPUs starting with 5th generation Core i (Broadwell). Nested virtualization was introduced with VirtualBox 6.0 and it initially only supported host systems that run AMD CPUs.

The new style 3D support (VBoxSVGA and VMSVGA) has also been further improved, with the older 3D support (VBoxVGA) being removed in this release. VBoxSVGA and VMSVGA now support YUV2 and related texture formats with hosts using OpenGL (macOS and Linux), which accelerates video playback when 3D is enabled by delegating the color space conversion to the host GPU.

Want to know the difference between these graphics controllers? See this page.

As a side note, the old VBoxVGA can still be selected in the VirtualBox GUI on my Linux desktop despite what the changelog says, but the machine fails to start, so make sure you don't choose this graphics controller when using VirtualBox 6.1+.

VirtualBox 6.1 also includes a new experimental feature that allows transferring files between via the shared clipboard. This is Windows guest/host only for now, it's disabled by default and it can be enabled by using VBoxManage (--clipboard-file-transfers enabled|disabled -- specifies if clipboard file transfers are allowed between host and guest OSes or not).

Yet another improvement is the addition of support for the latest stable Linux 5.4 (available in the current Ubuntu 20.04 development and Debian experimental for example).

VirtualBox related: VirtualBox Guest Additions Installation In Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Debian, Fedora And openSUSE [How-To]

Other important changes in VirtualBox 6.1:

  • GUI:
    • Virtual machine details pane is now extended with embedded editors for selected VM attributes, allowing user to edit them on-the-fly by clicking corresponding hyper-links without opening VM settings dialog
    • mouse pointer improvements
    • improved Virtual Machine Groups
    • VM storage settings page was adjusted a bit in usability regard. User is now allowed to change controller bus type and can move attachments between the controllers by using drag and drop
    • improved the VISO creation and file manager dialogs
    • added a new soft (virtual) keyboard enabling arbitrary keyboard input to guests, including multimedia keys
    • show VM CPU load as part of status bar CPU indicator
  • EFI: Updated firmware, NVRAM support, support for APFS file system, support for non-standard SATA/NVMe devices, support for Legacy OS X releases
  • Virtualization core: Drop recompiler (running VMs now needs a CPU supporting hardware virtualization)
  • Runtime: Works now on hosts with many CPUs (the limit is now 1024)
  • vboximg-mount: Experimental support for direct read-only access to NTFS, FAT and ext2/3/4 file systems inside a disk image without the need for support on the host; vboximg-mount is now also available on Linux hosts

The full changelog can be found on the VirtualBox website.

Download VirtualBox

The VirtualBox downloads page has the latest VirtualBox 6.0 for Windows, macOS, Linux and Solaris. There are Linux packages and repositories for Ubuntu, Debian, openSUSE, Fedora, Oracle Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and CentOS 7.

If you have the VirtualBox repository enabled on your system, all you have to do is install the virtualbox-6.1 package to get the latest version.

You may want to also download and install the VirtualBox 6.1.0 Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack (it's available on the VirtualBox downloads page, and to install it simply double click the file and follow the instructions). This is required for USB2.0/3.0 support, VirtualBox RDP, disk encryption, NVMe and PXE boot for Intel cards. Do note that the extension pack binaries are proprietary software, under the VirtualBox Personal Use and Evaluation License.

Ubuntu (and Ubuntu-based Linux distributions like Pop!_OS, Linux Mint or elementary OS) users may also want to read: How To Fix Upgrading Ubuntu Repositories VirtualBox To Oracle-Provided VirtualBox