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Start a VirtualBox server in headless mode


Sometimes (in fact, why not every time?), you will want to start a server on your machine but not have it display a console. In other words, start it ‘headless’.

First, list all your machines. From the command prompt…

VBoxManage list vms

You get a list of all the machine images thus..

"Windows XP" {f0e63449-61bc-40e1-a82f-5a9bc6fb2434}
"Debian Basic" {b596b383-04e7-4895-bfaf-94a206f66960}
"Homestead_default_1407795525403_97441" {7abc2b40-5f57-4a6f-a647-8583c8790a62}
"UDA" {68999d0c-6391-4792-b13a-c120649ab240}
"PXE Boot" {fe1480eb-68d1-493a-9a90-6c36f819410e}
"Tiny Linux" {44ed7a1d-4e75-4d21-9bdd-a23699603af4}
"Turnkey Linux" {a2194ccb-c88d-48b9-aa6f-12b0805500c9}

So, to boot the Turnkey Linux box, just enter..

VBoxManage startvm "Turnkey Linux" --type headless

You should get

VBoxManage startvm "Turnkey Linux" --type headless
Waiting for VM "Turnkey Linux" to power on...
VM "Turnkey Linux" has been successfully started.

Now, just ssh straight onto the machine

ssh root@

Obviously, you need to know the ip address of the machine in advance or see your DHCP log to see what address it picked up. Otherwise, you’re ready to log in.

To shut it down again…

VBoxManage controlvm "Turnkey Linux" poweroff


Check out the well-written and compact documentation for VirtualBox here.

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