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I have an Ubuntu Desktop 11.04 virtual machine using VirtualBox on my Windows 7 system.

Up until now I have been doing all my development within the Ubuntu environment but unfortunately, I don't like it. I want to move back to Windows, which is much more familiar to me but I would still like to access the virtual box like a virtual server as it is already set up with Apache, PHP, Pear, Git etc...

How can I make the two work in harmony? I essentially want to be able to start the VM and connect to it as if it was a server machine somewhere on my network, without having to actually buy another machine to put on my network.

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You might be interested in Virtualbox's Seamless Mode, which lets you basically combine the two OSes desktops and windows onto one screen. – William Lawn Stewart Aug 17 '11 at 0:28
up vote 1 down vote accepted

You can just launch it using vboxheadless from your current desktop.

Use the virtualbox GUI to make sure it's using bridged networking (which everyone is telling you I know).

From the command line, type vboxmanage list vms

Note the name of your VM, which is displayed in quotes.

Now type vboxheadless -startvm "whatever the name of your vm was"

Easy, and you don't have to move anything.

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I edited your answer to correct the command syntax. Just a note that vboxheadless may require an addition option for -vrde. An alternative is vboxmanage startvm "VmName" --type headless – Joe Internet Aug 17 '11 at 0:26
One of the most important things I needed to do was to bridge the network adapter as mentioned here and in OGs post. I marked this one as accepted because it also included how to run headless. Thanks! – Ryall Aug 17 '11 at 9:11

Configure it's network to use bridge networking on VirtualBox - if you have a dhcp server, leave configuration to default, otherwise specify a static IP address - and you should be able to access the services of the virtual machine from anywhere within your local network, as it would be a separate computer.

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Don't forget to enable Remote Desktop in the VM settings; then you can access the entire monitor (including BIOS and system load) from an RDP session – Canadian Luke Aug 16 '11 at 16:58

Copy all of the virtual machine files to a safe location, re-install Windows, install VirtualBox under Windows, then import the saved VM.

You might want to "clone" the machine to give it a new UUID, or you may need to edit the vm description file a bit. The most important thing to keep is the virtual hard drive. The "machine" itself can be re-sreated in a minute or so.

Edit: You can configure the Ubuntu Vm with any networking technology that allows you to connect... RDP, VNC, SSH, FTP, SMB/CIFS, etc... it just depends on what type of access you want.

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Joe, the setup you describe in paragraph one is exactly what Ryall already has. – CarlF Aug 16 '11 at 19:56

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