Virtualbox machine boots from usb drive

First, at present, booting from USB is impossible with VirtualBox! But there is a really easy workaround to use VMDK, which is just a container file describing physical devices (or files) to use in virtual machines like VirtualBox or VMware.
Because the USB is just another physical device attached to the machine this article will help to attach the USB drive to a virtual machine – Add a raw disk to a virtualbox virtual machine. Then boot from the newly attached disk.

Here is the quick tip for the USB drive:

  1. Attach the USB drive and find its device path. Under Windows, it would be something like “\\.\PhysicalDrive3” (open “Disk Management” if not sure) and under Linux it would be /dev/sdc, for example. This is the third disk device (including USB disk devices) connected to the machine.
  2. Make the VMDK from the USB physical device.
    Under Windows:

    VBoxManage.exe internalcommands createrawvmdk -filename "c:\Users\homer\.VirtualBox\windows11pro-install-usb.vmdk" -rawdisk \\.\PhysicalDrive3

    Under Linux:

    VBoxManage internalcommands createrawvmdk -filename /home/myuser/.VirtualBox/windows11pro-install-usb.vmdk.vmdk -rawdisk /dev/sdc
  3. Attach it the virtual machine: Settings -> Storage -> Storage Devices.

    First, a click on “Adds hard disk” would show a menu to add a new hard disk and then a click on “Add” (“Add Disk Image”) shows a file browse dialog to locate the VMDK file.

    main menu
    Storage Devices
  4. Boot from this device by selecting it manually from the boot menu (F12 would boot in Boot menu) or set the VMKD disk to be on the Port 0 in the above step.

For more details (not just the commands to generate the VMDK container file) follow the above URL to the proposed article – Add a raw disk to a virtualbox virtual machine

VBoxManage: error: Failed to initialize COM! NS_ERROR_FILE_TARGET_DOES_NOT_EXIST (0x80520006)

What an error! And the VirtualBox stopped loading anymore! This error:

myuser@srv ~ $ VBoxManage list vms
VBoxManage: error: Failed to initialize COM! (hrc=NS_ERROR_FILE_TARGET_DOES_NOT_EXIST)

and here with the GIU, which offers a little bit more information about the error ID:
This error occurs despite the successfully loaded VirtualBox kernel modules!

main menu
VBoxManage: error: Failed to initialize COM! NS_ERROR_FILE_TARGET_DOES_NOT_EXIST (0x80520006)

The two errors are the same and hint there is a file missing (or files?)? In our case, after upgrading from virtualbox-bin (a binary package) to a virtualbox (a package, which actually builds the VirtualBox on the system) under Gentoo, but apparently, this error could occur to everyone, who tries to build yourself the VirtualBox bundle.

The solution is simple: just DO NOT CHANGE the installation path of the Virtualbox software, which by default is /opt/VirtualBox.

The path is hardcoded in the sources and cannot be changed! At present version 6.1.16, we could not find a build option to change it! Of course, the linking /opt/VirtualBox would do the trick to move the installation physically away from the /opt, but the path must be valid /opt/VirtualBox.

In Gentoo, the emerge default installation goes to “/usr/lib64/virtualbox“, so the maintainer of the package changed the path and Virtualbox stopped working! Or a user build it and install it in any other location should link the /opt/VirtualBox to the installation directory. For example, in Gentoo, the fix will be:

root@srv ~ $ ln -s /usr/lib64/virtualbox /opt/VirtualBox
root@srv ~ $ exit
myuser@srv ~ $ VBoxManage list vms
"gentoo_raw" {55346caf-04db-4d88-831a-111111111111}
"diskless" {44346caf-c952-5555-b8a3-111111111111}
"diskless-linux" {44346caf-424f-487f-ae8d-111111111111}
"centos7-netinstall" {44346caf-4e86-441b-8d1e-111111111111}

A simple link would bring back Virtualbox to live.


Probably, there is a configuration file “xpti.dat” in two or more locations: ~/.config/VirtualBox/xpti.dat and ~/.VirtualBox/xpti.dat, which is generated on every start of a VirtualBox. In the file there are configuration lines like:
Keep on reading!

Add a raw disk to a virtualbox virtual machine

This is strange there is no way to add a physical disk to your virtual machine under virtualbox! Still it is possible and it is simple, but you need to execute few commands under console so you need to open a terminal and to have a root privileges!
To use a raw disk in our virtual machine we must create a special VMDK file and then to use it when adding a hard drive to our virtualbox virtual machine with “Use an existing virtual hard disk dile”.

Here are the right steps to add a raw disk:

STEP 1) Permissions – your user must have (write) permissions to access raw disks

In most cases your user do not have write permission to the disk – it is the same under MS Windows and any Linux distribution (and probably MAC)! So here is the right way how to give permissions under Linux and Windows:

  • Under Linux (Ubuntu, Centos, Fedora, Gentoo and probably all other). There are at least two ways to give WRITE permission to the raw disk (use one of them, the first one is preferred). We want to add our third disk the “/dev/sdc” so the examples are with this device:
    1. add your user to “disk” group and log out. After you log in you’ll have WRITE permissions to the disks. Probably you must log off your GUI (Gnome, KDE and so on), too!
      srv@local ~ $ sudo sudo usermod -a -G disk myuser

      “myuser” is the username of the user I am logged in. The log out and log in (if you are using a GUI – gnome, kde or something else, you must log out from the GUI, too and then log in again).

    2. execute virtualbox with root user
    3. change the permission of the physical device you want to use (this is temporary, because next time you reboot you must change it again)
      srv@local ~ $ sudo chmod o+rw /dev/sdc 
  • Under Windows 10 (or 7) – you must start the command prompt and Virtualbox with “run as Administrator” – look at the next step (STEP 2).

Keep on reading!