VirtualBox resolution problem when installing ubuntu on Macbook Pro

I installed VirtualBox on my macbook pro, and I still want to use ubuntu sometimes. Everything went well when installing VirtualBox and later ubuntu in VirtualBox. Then the problem comes. The resolution of ubuntu cannot exceed 800×600. After doing some research by googling, the following is the final solution.

Note: I first tried ubuntu 10.10 rc. But it seems to be too new to VirtualBox, and it fails on step 1. So I went back to ubuntu 9.10.

before here, I assume that ubuntu has been installed in VirtualBox.

Step 1: Install VirtualBox additions, which comes along with your VirtualBox already. So you don’t need to download separately. The procedure is very simple. Just boot into your guest. Then, in the VirtualBox menu, under Devices, click Install Guest Additions. This will mount the VirtualBox Guest Additions ISO (included with the program) as a CD-ROM drive inside the virtual machine. You can find the mounted ISO at /media/cdrom for ubuntu 9.10. Cd that directory, and execute the following

sudo sh ./<script-relevant-for-your-architecture>

after successfully install that, you need to reboot your guest ubuntu

Step 2 Modify your xorg.conf file. cd into the directory, /etc/X11. If xorg.conf is not there, execute

touch xorg.conf

and fille it using your favorite editor with

Section “Device”
Identifier “Configured Video Device”
Driver  “vboxvideo”

Section “Monitor”
Identifier “Configured Monitor”

Section “Screen”
Identifier “Default Screen”
Monitor “Generic Monitor”
Device “VirtualBox graphics card”
DefaultDepth 24
SubSection “Display”
Depth 24
Modes “1280×800” “800×600” “640×480”

For the modes part, you may change them into the resolution of your own display.

After that, reboot your guest ubuntu again, and you should be able to use the right resolution.

Note: An error “environment block too small” may pop up when restarting, and this is a weird bug. The following procedure resolved my problem

That’s it. Enjoy~


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  1. #1 by Oscar Steele on February 16, 2011 - 3:50 pm

    Thank you so much! Been beating my head against this all day long trying various suggestions without success. Adding this xorg.conf worked for me, though I had to

    1) modify xorg.conf
    2) reboot
    3) reinstall guest additions
    4) reboot

    before it worked for me.

    FYI, I am using MacBookPro2,1 running snow leopard, with Ubuntu 10.10 as the guest.

    Thanks again.

  2. #2 by Johnc0 on May 29, 2014 - 8:16 am

    A big thank you for your article.Thanks Again. Great. eekcffekceaf

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