Speed up Ubuntu in VirtualBox

Ubuntu or other Linux distributions may be slow when you run it within VirtualBox. Often, the cause is that not enough RAM is assigned to the virtual machine, which makes it run slow and makes it unresponsive. However, if your VM already has plenty of RAM and you also already tried assigning an extra virtual CPU core to the machine, this guide might help you make Ubuntu faster in Oracle VM VirtualBox.

Execute the following command to see if 3D acceleration is being used or not:

/usr/lib/nux/unity_support_test -p

It will probably say:

Unity 3D supported:       no

Now that’s bad news, because the graphical interface of Ubuntu makes your whole system slow and laggy. So first of all, make sure you have the VirtualBox Guest additions installed.
Once this is installed, we now install the vboxvideo driver:

sudo bash -c 'echo vboxvideo >> /etc/modules'

Now, shutdown Ubuntu. Then, you open the settings of your virtual Ubuntu and you go to ‘Display‘. Now tick ‘Enable 3D Acceleration‘.

enable_3d_acceleration_virtualboxStart your (formerly) slow Ubuntu and you should notice faster navigation, opening of apps as well as an overall snappier experience!

If you really want to speed things up even further, you can install the CompizConfig Settings Manager. To install and run it, open Terminal and execute this command:

sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager && ccsm

Go to OpenGL and untick Framebuffer Object. Also, you might want to disable effects, such as fading windows, animations and window decoration.


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33 thoughts on “Speed up Ubuntu in VirtualBox

  1. Thank you! I’ve been running Ubuntu in Virtual Box for some time and the text has been very sluggish when typing in Aptana Studio. Sometimes I’d have to switch between terminal views to get them to update.

    I’d already had 3d acceleration enabled, but I am seeing tremendous improvement after unchecking the framebuffer setting.

    This post is gold! Thank you again for sharing!

  2. Thank you very much for the tips, I was already using 3d acceleration but with the “CompizConfig Settings Manager” it made the responsiveness better and removed some graphics artifacts I was having.

  3. Your tips really speed up my ubuntu 14.04 on virtualbox, but i’m facing some counterparts.
    I need to switch often between host (win7 pro 64) and this guest.
    Usually, on the guest, I used the ‘host’ button and then alt + tab for switching different program on windows.
    Since this tips, it isn’t working properly anymore.

    Moreover Chrome blinks a lot a starting on the guest.

    Is there something, I did wrong ?

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi jchirschy,
      Good to hear my tips helped you speed up your Ubuntu in VirtualBox!
      I can’t help you with your other questions. The issues you are facing may be related to something differently, unrelated.
      Always make sure you assign enough RAM to your virtual machines. Often, a lack of memory causes hiccups.

  4. Hey Thomas,
    I’m so happy I found this. Ubuntu performance in a VM has been driving me nuts for ages. Unticking framebuffer did the trick for me

  5. Thanks for the very usefull post.
    In my case the low performance came from using 32 bit Ubuntu on a 64bit hWindows 10 host system. After I installed the 64 bit Ubuntu, with the 3D Accelleration, everything runs smoothly now.
    Maybe it helps someone, facing a similiar probelm.

  6. God bless you man. I’ve been struggling to make my windows 10 vm snappy for edges and with one click (3D acceleration) it finally works as it should on 2000$ laptop.

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