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I'm running Virtualbox 4.1.2 (with the corresponding extension pack) on an up-to-date Ubuntu 11.10 host with Windows XP as a guest. I have a National Instruments USB-6251 device which I would like to use with my Windows guest OS. (since MATLAB's DAQ toolbox is only available in Windows)

NI does offer an RPM based driver installer, but the installer is giving me headaches because it can't find GLIBC since the "RPM database isn't populated" and when I bypass that error with the installer's --nodeps option, it fails saying that a 3.0 kernel is not supported and that I need a 2.6 kernel. Due to, at least, these two hurdles I'd rather not waste more time trying to set up a Linux driver when I don't need to use the device with Linux.

Running lsusb displays the device as

Bus 002 Device 008: ID 3923:72a0 National Instruments Corp.

and running lsusb -d 3923: -v returns a bunch of information.

But right-clicking the USB device icon in the virtual machine window's status bar indicates no device is connected.

No USB devices connected context-menu

Who can I get the Windows guest OS to see the device?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

As often I found my answer while writing up the question. Posted it anway so others might benefit.

Turns out the issue wasn't that Linux didn't recognize the device, as I intially thought, but simply that my user didn't have enough permissions to access USB devices in general. Running

usermod -a -G vboxusers username

as suggested by Virtualbox, and then logging in and out, got it working.

enter image description here

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Just be careful with usermod. If you don't use the right flags, you end up wiping out your groups. –  Rob May 2 '12 at 17:41
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