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How to run a Ubuntu home server on VirtualBox VM?

Don’t have an extra PC laying around, no problem, just run a Ubuntu home server on VirtualBox VM. I have been pumping out VirtualBox tutorials over the last two months. Some have asked me if VirtualBox is somehow related to HTPCs. This post will answer that question. This post is the climax for the whole story. If you have one Windows, Linux, or Mac system and want to run a home server on laptop (or desktop) without making changes to the existing operating system, then read on.

Ubuntu Home Server on VirtualBox VM

Run a Ubuntu Home Server on VirtualBox

While this post shows how to run a Ubuntu home server on VirtualBox, you may also choose to use other operating systems for your server. Laptops consume much less power than desktops and these days, multi-core laptops with 8GB or more RAM is very common. One TB or more hard drives are also becoming common. While many may consider 1 TB to be not enough for a home server, it is more than enough to run apps such as SickBeard, SickRage, Sonarr, or CouchPotato and stream latest TV shows and movies to network streaming clients around the house.

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While there are numerous uses for a home server, a basic Linux server on VirtualBox with PVR apps for automatic content download and NFS server or SAMBA server for file serving may just be enough to meet your local streaming needs. [Read: A budget HTPC-NAS Combo with an old PC and OpenELEC]

Setup Home Server on VirtualBox

First step is to setup Ubuntu Server on VirtualBox. The steps required to run Ubuntu home server on VirtualBox have be already been covered extensively. Follow the posts listed below get your Linux server on VirtualBox up and running.

  1. Install Virtual Box – Windows / Ubuntu host system
  2. Install Ubuntu Server on VirtualBox
  3. Install Guest Additions – Windows / Ubuntu guests
  4. Update Guest Additions – Windows / Ubuntu guest (if you already have VBox Guest Additions installed)
  5. Install Extension Pack on VirtualBox

You could also choose to run one of the many home server operating systems such as Amahi, OpenMediaVault, or FreeNAS as your VirtualBox guest OS.

Setup USB Share on VirtualBox

If the available space on your laptop will be sufficient for your needs then you can move on to the next step. But if the space is not enough, which would normally be the case if you want to maintain an extensive media library, you can add additional home server space using an external USB Drive. Follow my previous post on how to access USB Drive on VirtualBox guest OS to additional storage space for your VirtualBox home server.

Mounted VirtualBox USB Drive
Mounted VirtualBox USB Drive

If you plan to use an external USB drive for storage, then I strongly recommend installing VirtualBox extension pack. With VirtualBox 5.0 you can even add USB 3.0 support to your VirtualBox Linux Server.

Ubuntu Home Server on VirtualBox – Continued in page 2

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About the author


Anand is a self-learned computer enthusiast, a part-time blogger, and a Food Scientist by career. He has been blogging since 2010 on Linux, Ubuntu, Home/Media/File Servers, Smart Home Automation, and related HOW-TOs on htpcbeginner.com and smarthomebeginner.com.