VirtualBox Controlling Headless VM

Scenario / Question:

How do I control my VirtualBox VM’s from the command line

Solution / Answer:

Use the tool VBoxManage

Install VirtualBox

Install VirtualBox without GUI or Headless

Create a VirtualBox VM guest

VirtualBox Headless VM

Controlling the VirtualBox VM

Now that we have VirtualBox installed and a VM guest created we need to control and modify the VM

How to List VM information

How to show the VirtualBox VM info

vmadmin$ VBoxManage showvminfo <vmname>

How to show the VM Harddrive info

vmadmin$ VBoxManage showhdinfo <filename>

How to list running VM

vmadmin$ VBoxManage list runningvms

How to list available VM

vmadmin$ VBoxManage list vms

How to list available VM Harddrives

vmadmin$ VBoxManage list hdds

How to list available ISO’s

vmadmin$ VBoxManage list dvds

How to Control VM

How to Start VM

nohup and & to place process in background, so VM continues to run after closing console.

vmadmin$ nohup VBoxHeadless –startvm <vmname> &

How to pause VM

vmadmin$ VBoxManage controlvm <vmname> pause

How to resume VM

vmadmin$ VBoxManage controlvm <vmname> resume

How to reset VM

vmadmin$ VBoxManage controlvm <vmname> reset

How to poweroff VM (hard poweroff eg. pull the plug)

vmadmin$ VBoxManage controlvm <vmname> poweroff

How to send poweroff single to VM (tells VM OS to shutdown)

vmadmin$ VBoxManage controlvm <vmname> acpipowerbutton

How to attach a DVD / CD to a running vm

vmadmin$ VBoxManage controlvm <vmname> dvdattach <filename>

How to de-attach a DVD / CD from a running vm

vmadmin$ VBoxManage controlvm <vmname> dvdattach none

Fabio Milano has written 80 articles for us. Fabio Milano is a certified RHCE, MCP, and CFOI. He runs an IT consulting and services company called RDS Support inc. Website:
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1 Comment so far

  1. Marcin on March 30th, 2012

    Please let me know how I can do secure power down VM running in headless mode.
    VB poweroff operation should do hard power off.. If I do at every time then my file system will be damage and data corrupted in future…

    For now I do a ssh into VMs and to ‘init 0′ by remote way from inside VM. But when I shuotdown host OS then VB do a poweroff automatical and I have problems with this….

    Best Regards
    Marcin Przysowa

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