21 Jun 2009 @ 8:40 PM 

vbox logo2 gradient How to run VirtualBox as service in WindowsAfter days of googling and a lot of trial and errors, I finally succeed running virtualbox as service. I tried VBoxVmService by mattz but have no luck. Then I tried another method with srvstart and Windows Service Commander explained here. It works for one Virtual Machine, but not for multiple Virtual Machines. While I need to run  three Virtual Machines simultaneously. All without any user logged on! OK, enough talking, let’s start the tutorial…

  • Preparation

    1. I tried this only on Windows XP SP3 and Windows 2003 Server SP2 (I think it may works on Windows 2000 Server as well)
      update: this method works on Windows Server 2008 (check Brian’s comment below) Thanks Brian!
      update Sept 29th 2009 : it works on Windows Seven 64 bit (check Mr Incredible’s comment). Thanks Mr Incredible!
      update Sept 29th 2009: it works on Windows Vista (check Victor Pajor’s comment below). Thanks Victor Pajor!
    2. SUN VirtualBox for Windows version 2.2.2 or more (download here)
      update Oct 13th 2009: it works on Windows XP SP3 with VirtualBox 3.0.8 (check Kikeze’s comment below). Thanks Kikeze!
    3. srvstart (download here)
    4. Windows Service Commander (download here)
  • Installation

    1. Install SUN VirtualBox, create and configure your guest OS’s
    2. Make sure you click the Remote Display setting, and check the "Enable VRDP server" option. Then assign a port number like 3001, 3002, 3003, etc.
      enablevrdp thumb How to run VirtualBox as service in Windows
    3. Setup all your guest OS’s as needed (install applications, setup preferences, tweaks, etc.)
    4. Shutdown all your guest OS’s
    5. Go to C:\Documents and Settings\YOURUSERNAME\.VirtualBox\ and open the file VirtualBox.xml with notepad.
      editvirtualboxxmlfile thumb How to run VirtualBox as service in Windows
    6. Press CTRL+F (find) and type "src" without quotes and press ENTER
      findsrc thumb How to run VirtualBox as service in Windows
    7. Edit the words src="Machines\YOURVMNAMEYOURVMNAME.xml" into src="C:Documents and Settings\YOURUSERNAME\.VirtualBox\Machines\YOURVMNAME\YOURVMNAME.xml. Close the file, and click Yes when asked "Do you want to save the changes?". If you have more than one Virtual Machines, then you must repeat this step and replace the paths to your Virtual Machines’s .xml file accordingly.
      originalsrc thumb How to run VirtualBox as service in Windows
      original src

      changesrcpath thumb How to run VirtualBox as service in Windows
      modified src
    8. Copy the file named VirtualBox.xml from C:Documents and Settings\YOURUSERNAME\.VirtualBox\ to C:Documents and Settings\LocalService\.VirtualBox\
      copytolocalservice thumb How to run VirtualBox as service in Windows
    9. Install Windows Service Commander
    10. Create a new directory C:\vm
    11. Extract the srvstart_run.v110.zip file to this C:vm directory
      extractsrvstart thumb How to run VirtualBox as service in Windows
    12. Open notepad, copy and paste the code below
      env=VBOXGUI="C:\Program Files\Sun\xVM VirtualBox\virtualbox.exe"
      env=VBOXHEADLESS="C:\Program Files\Sun\xVM VirtualBox\vboxheadless.exe"
      env=VBOXWEBSRV="C:\Program Files\Sun\xVM VirtualBox\vboxwebsrv.exe"
      env=VBOXMANAGE="C:\Program Files\Sun\xVM VirtualBox\VBoxManage.exe"
      env=VBOX_PROG="C:\Program Files\Sun\xVM VirtualBox\"
      env=VBOX_BASE="C:\Documents and Settings\YOURUSERNAMEHERE\.VirtualBox\"
      env=VBOX_MACHINES="C:\Documents and Settings\YOURUSERNAMEHERE\.VirtualBox\machines\"
      env=VBOX_VDI="C:\Documents and Settings\YOURUSERNAMEHERE\.VirtualBox\HardDisks\"
      env=USERPROFILE=%SystemDrive%\Documents and Settings\LocalService\
      
      debug=1
      debug_out=>C:\vm\vm.log
      
      [YOURVMNAME]
      startup=%VBOXHEADLESS% -startvm YOURVMNAME
      shutdown_method=command
      shutdown=%VBOXMANAGE% controlvm YOURVMNAME savestate
    13. Replace YOURUSERNAME above with your own windows user account, and YOURVMNAME with your own Virtual Machine’s name

      srvstartiniexample thumb How to run VirtualBox as service in Windows
    14. Close Notepad and save it as srvstart.ini in C:\VM

      saveinvmdir thumb How to run VirtualBox as service in Windows

    15. Run Windows Service Commander
    16. Click Tools > Install new service

      installnewservice thumb How to run VirtualBox as service in Windows
    17. The Service install wizard will show up, click Next
    18. Enter
      c:\VM\srvstart.exe svc YOURVMNAME -c "c:\vm\srvstart.ini"
    19. Again, replace YOURVMNAME above with your own Virtual Machine’s name

      pathtoserviceexe thumb How to run VirtualBox as service in Windows
    20. Press Next
    21. Enter any name you want in the Name and Display Name field (ie. My VM Service), then add some descriptions if needed (optional)

      servicename thumb How to run VirtualBox as service in Windows

    22. Press Next
    23. Check the "Allow service to interact with desktop" option

      allowtointeractwithdesktop thumb How to run VirtualBox as service in Windows

    24. Press Next
    25. Leave the startup as Manual and error as Ignore for now

      manualignor thumb How to run VirtualBox as service in Windows
    26. Press Next
    27. Press Next again as there’s nothing to change here
    28. Click Finish
    29. Now you’ll see the new service name in the service list

      displayinservicelist thumb How to run VirtualBox as service in Windows
    30. Click on it and press the triangle button at the toolbar to start the service

      clickstart thumb How to run VirtualBox as service in Windows
    31. If the red round icon turns into green, then your VM is running as service successfully!

      servicerunning thumb How to run VirtualBox as service in Windows
    32. If everything’s work as expected, you can change the startup type of your service as automatic, so every time your host Windows OS runs, your VirtualBox service will also runs

      automatic thumb How to run VirtualBox as service in Windows

  • Notes
  1. If you want to modify an existing Virtual Machine’s configuration (eg. add memory, etc), or add a new Virtual Machine, you must set the VirtualBox service’s startup type to manual first, shutdown all your guest OS’s, and restart the host OS. We do this so there is no process is locking up the VirtualBox.xml file. After restart, the .VirtualBox.xml file can be modified and recopied into  C:\Documents and Settings\LocalService\.VirtualBox (see step no. 8 above)
  2. To control your Virtual Machines, you can use Remote Desktop Connection and put your host computer’s IP, followed by a colon and the port number u assigned in the Remote Display setting (see step no. 2 above) eg. 192.168.2.60:3001

    rdc thumb How to run VirtualBox as service in Windows
  3. See the debug=1 line in the srvstart.ini file above? You can safely set it to debug=0 if no errors occurred when  practicing this tutorial.
  4. This tutorial shows how to run a single Virtual Machine as service, next time I will write another tutorial to run multiple Virtual Machines like mine. Check out the tutorial to run multiple Virtual Machine!

  5. Source with some modifications from VirtualBox forum (rasker’s post)
  6. Snapshots will be added later.
Victor Pajor

Posted By: LiveDeviL
Last Edit: 11 Oct 2010 @ 12:33 AM

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Responses to this post » (55 Total)

 
  1. smodzy says:

    Stephan, THANKS!!!

    This was exactly what I was looking for.

    Maybe helpful for others is how to get your vm UUID:
    1) go to start Run and type cmd in the commandline
    2) type C:\Progra~1\Oracle\virtualbox\VBoxManage list vms

    Your UUID’s should be displayed.

    Oh and ehm… You can create a batch file by opening Notepad, put in Stephan’s line and safe it as YourFileName.bat. Make sure you set the “safe as type” to “All Files (*.*)”

  2. smodzy says:

    Oh and ehm 2…

    Put the .bat file in C:\

    Or else it won’t run as a scheduled Task

  3. Hi…
    I did something wrong?… when i select start service… it loads until 100% and then does nothing…

  4. [...] Virtualisation sur Wikipedia [↩]Là par exemple [↩] A titre d’information, voilà ce qui était préconisé par le passé [↩]Voir ici pour un tutorial sur la manière de faire [↩] [...]

  5. Alfredo says:

    Do you run a newer OS like Win7 or Server 2008 as Host OS?
    You need to copy your .virtualbox folder to an other location. See
    https://forums.virtualbox.org/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=15449&start=45#p218298

  6. Jeff Sadowski says:

    I’m running virtualbox 4.1.10
    I had problems following steps 6 and 7
    It looks as though you wanted a complete path instead of a Relative path wich 4.1.10 seems to already have.
    Also in 4.1.10 src no longer points to a xml it points to a vbox file (probably is an xml)

    I went ahead and continued through the instructions and got to step 31 where it did not start.

    c:\vm\vm.log shows
    SRVSTART: 2012/03/23 09:34:51 INFORMATION severity=0 thread=5436 source=D:\Home\Author\srvstart.v110\exe\exe.cpp line=322 text=SRVSTART version 1.10 Copyright (C) 1998 – 2000 Nick Rozanski (Nick@Rozanski.com) (Distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation)
    SRVSTART: 2012/03/23 09:34:51 INFORMATION severity=0 thread=5436 source=D:\Home\Author\srvstart.v110\exe\exe.cpp line=324 text=To hide the startup message run SRVSTART with switch -d 0
    SRVSTART: 2012/03/23 09:34:51 ERROR severity=0 thread=5436 source=D:\Home\Author\srvstart.v110\dll\CmdRunner.cpp line=358 text=Exception 6 in Class ‘CmdRunner’ method ‘start()’
    SRVSTART: 2012/03/23 09:34:51 ERROR severity=0 thread=5436 source=D:\Home\Author\srvstart.v110\exe\exe.cpp line=334 text=Exception 6 trapped in source file ‘D:\Home\Author\srvstart.v110\dll\CmdRunner.cpp’ line 358
    SRVSTART: 2012/03/23 09:34:51 ERROR severity=0 thread=5436 source=D:\Home\Author\srvstart.v110\exe\exe.cpp line=335 text=Class ‘CmdRunner’ method ‘start’
    SRVSTART: 2012/03/23 09:34:51 ERROR severity=0 thread=5436 source=D:\Home\Author\srvstart.v110\exe\exe.cpp line=336 text=An invalid parameter was supplied to a function or method.
    SRVSTART: 2012/03/23 09:34:51 ERROR severity=0 thread=5436 source=D:\Home\Author\srvstart.v110\exe\exe.cpp line=449 text=SRVSTART is terminating with a FAILURE status

    I tried running
    c:\VM\srvstart.exe svc BigBlueButton -c “c:\vm\srvstart.ini”
    from the command line and I get the following messages.

    ERROR: Exception 7 trapped in source file ‘D:\Home\Author\srvstart.v110\dll\CmdR
    unner.cpp’ line 296
    ERROR: Class ‘CmdRunner’ method ‘CmdRunner’
    An internal error has occurred.

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