How to Install VirtualBox on Debian 12 (Bookworm)

Learn how to easily install VirtualBox on Debian 12 (Bookworm) with our step-by-step guide, and start virtualizing your systems today!

If you’re looking to explore the virtualization world and harness the power of running multiple operating systems on a single machine, you’ve come to the right place.

VirtualBox is a versatile and widely-used open-source virtualization software that allows you to simultaneously run various operating systems, such as Windows, Linux, and macOS, on a single host machine.

In this article, we’ll walk you through installing VirtualBox on Debian 12 (Bookworm), setting up virtual environments, and managing virtual machines effortlessly.

Install VirtualBox on Debian 12 (Bookworm)

Although VirtualBox is primarily aimed at home users, it is also commonly utilized in professional environments. Unfortunately, it is unavailable for installation from the official Debian repositories.

But this should not bother you. There is an effortless way to install VirtualBox on your Debian 12 system, which we will show you now.

Step 1: Download and Import VirtualBox’s GPG Keys

Firstly, to ensure that the packages we receive to install the VirtualBox are genuine, we should download and import the VirtualBox signed GPG keys on our Debian 11 system.

To do so, type the following wget command and pipe the output to the gpg tool:

wget -O- -q https://www.virtualbox.org/download/oracle_vbox_2016.asc | sudo gpg --dearmour -o /usr/share/keyrings/oracle_vbox_2016.gpg
Import VirtualBox’s repository GPG Key.
Import VirtualBox’s repository GPG Key.

Notice that the command produces no output.

Step 2: Add VirtualBox Repository for Debian 12

After importing the GPG keys, we’ll add the official VirtualBox repository to our Debian 12 system. This implies that the update package will be made available with the rest of your system’s regular updates if a new version is released.

To accomplish it, type the command shown below.

echo "deb [arch=amd64 signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/oracle_vbox_2016.gpg] http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/debian bookworm contrib" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/virtualbox.list
Add VirtualBox Repository for Debian 12.
Add VirtualBox Repository for Debian 12.

Step 3: Run System Update

Before we proceed with VirtualBox installation on our Debian 12 system, we should update the list of available packages. So, run the below command to update the APT repositories index.

sudo apt update
Updating the list of available packages.
Updating the list of available packages.

As you can see, our new VirtualBox repository is now available and ready to be used.

Step 4: Install VirtualBox on Debian 12 (Bookworm)

Everything is already prepared for the actual installation. Now, to install VirtualBox on Debian 12, run the following commands:

sudo apt install virtualbox-7.0
Installing VirtualBox on Debian 12 (Bookworm).
Installing VirtualBox on Debian 12 (Bookworm).

That’s all. The VirtualBox is installed and ready for use on your Debian 12 Linux system.

Step 5: Install VirtualBox Extension Pack (Optional)

This is an optional step, but I strongly encourage it because it will make working with VirtualBox on your Debian system more straightforward and convenient.

VirtualBox Extension Pack unlocks many great features, such as:

  • USB 2 and USB 3 support
  • VirtualBox Remote Desktop Protocol (VRDP)
  • Host webcam passthrough
  • Disk image encryption with AES algorithm
  • Intel PXE boot ROM

However, one peculiarity should be highlighted here. The VirtualBox Extension Pack’s version is recommended to match the version of VirtualBox installed on your Debian 12 system.

So, to verify the exact one of the installed locally VirtualBox, you can use vboxmanage, a build-in VirtualBox’s command:

vboxmanage -v | cut -dr -f1
Check the installed VirtualBox version.
Check the installed VirtualBox version.

As you can see, the version of Virtualbox installed is 7.0.10. Therefore, the Extension Pack with the same version must then be downloaded.

If your installation is different, replace both places containing 7.0.10 in the command below with the current version. In addition, you can also go straight to the downloads page and look at the available versions.

wget https://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/7.0.10/Oracle_VM_VirtualBox_Extension_Pack-7.0.10.vbox-extpack

Next, to install the VirtualBox Extension pack, run the vboxmanage command as follows:

sudo vboxmanage extpack install Oracle_VM_VirtualBox_Extension_Pack-7.0.10.vbox-extpack

When prompted to agree the Oracle’s license terms and conditions, type “y” to confirm and press “Enter.”

Install VirtualBox Extension Pack.
Install VirtualBox Extension Pack.

You can verify that the extension pack was installed correctly by running the following:

vboxmanage list extpacks
List installed VirtualBox Extension Packs.
List installed VirtualBox Extension Packs.

Step 6: Add User to the vboxusers Group

Before using VirtualBox, add your user account to the vboxusers group. This is quick and simple to accomplish by running:

sudo usermod -a -G vboxusers $USER

Now perform a reboot. After login, check that you are in the vboxusers group with this command:

groups $USER
Add the user to the vboxusers group.
Add the user to the vboxusers group.

Step 7: Running VirtualBox on Debian 12

You can start using VirtualBox by launching it from the desktop environment’s application menu.

Starting VirtualBox.
Starting VirtualBox.
VirtualBox is installed and running on Debian 12.
VirtualBox is installed and running on Debian 12.

Conclusion

VirtualBox provides an invaluable platform for developers, IT professionals, and enthusiasts to test applications and OSes in isolated environments, safeguarding the host system from potential conflicts and adverse effects.

Installing VirtualBox on Debian 12 (Bookworm) is a straightforward process that empowers users to create and manage virtual environments efficiently.

By following the step-by-step guide provided, users can harness the full potential of VirtualBox, enabling them to run multiple operating systems on a single machine seamlessly.

In addition, we also recommend checking the official documentation for individuals who want to learn more about the features offered by VirtualBox and how to use them effectively.

Thanks for your time! Your feedback and comments are most welcome.

Bobby Borisov

Bobby Borisov

Bobby, an editor-in-chief at Linuxiac, is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, he has worked as a Senior Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

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6 Comments

  1. when I do this I get that:
    this:
    root@maxi:~# apt install virtualbox-7.0
    that:
    Reading package lists… Done
    Building dependency tree… Done
    Reading state information… Done
    Some packages could not be installed. This may mean that you have
    requested an impossible situation or if you are using the unstable
    distribution that some required packages have not yet been created
    or been moved out of Incoming.
    The following information may help to resolve the situation:

    The following packages have unmet dependencies:
    virtualbox-7.0 : Depends: libssl1.1 (>= 1.1.1) but it is not installable
    Depends: libvpx6 (>= 1.6.0) but it is not installable
    Recommends: libsdl-ttf2.0-0 but it is not going to be installed
    Recommends: linux-image but it is not installable
    E: Unable to correct problems, you have held broken packages.

    The base machine is an Intel NCU9 with base OS as Debian Bookworm (12) more-or-less fresh out of the box.
    I made the recommended changes from your article to the sources.list file.
    Any Suggestions?
    Rick

    • If you are trying this in a virtual Debian, it won’t work. It needs Hyper-v from the bios and can not pass through another virtual or at least I couldn’t get it to. Also installing Debian directly from a live usb to your main system hits a snag with a comms error for vitrualbox.xml which does not exist in this case. booting into the usb and running install Debian from Debian gets around this I think because you are part of the sudo group.

  2. Thanks, it did work exactly as describe !
    Your tutorials are always useful, nicely layout, very precise and very easy to follow.

    • Hey Michel,

      Thank you for your kind words! We try to keep it that way, and I’m glad we’re of help.

      Best,
      Bobby

  3. Thanks you for the accurate instructions on installing VirtualBox 7.0. The install .deb file on the VirtualBox site doesn’t install correctly with dpkg. It must lack a dependencies list or something.

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