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I have a Debian guest installed on a Windows 7 host using Virtualbox. The installation included virtualbox-ose-guest-utils by default, so I should have everything I need. How can I turn on the shared clipboard?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I'm afraid that you cannot have a shared clipboard on a command-line only guest.

This is because the TTY doesn't really create a proper clipboard that the guest additions can use, you need a full GUI for that.

You will be better off using SSH to log in to the guest from the host. That way you can use the features of your SSH client e.g. Putty to share the clipboard.

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This can be done. I've not been able to get bidirectional working with the following, but Host to Guest (ie paste content into the text console) does work. The following instructions are for CentOS 5/6/7, however they a similar mechanism should work for other flavours.

This will keep the X11 clipboard in sync with the gpm clipboard. When the Shared Clipboard setting is configured for “Host to Guest” then VirtualBox will update the X11 clipboard when the Host clipboard changes… the patched gpm will then use xclip to pull the X11 clipboard data into the gpm clipboard… which can then be pasted with the middle-mouse button.

Shared Clipboard

It is possible to get “Host to Guest” clipboard sharing to work in server/console mode. The “Guest to Host” sharing is not working at the moment, probably due to an issue between the VBoxClient and Xvfb.

Install Xvfb

    yum install Xvfb

Install VBoxClient

    mount /dev/cdrom /mnt
    /mnt/VBoxLinuxAdditions.run

Install xclip

Download, Compile and Install xclip (http://sourceforge.net/projects/xclip/) as /usr/local/bin/xclip.

Install a patched gpm (with xclip integration)

Download the latest gpm source and patch it with the following changes.

Install the binary as /usr/local/bin/xclip-gpm.

This is an updated version of a patch by Alex Efros (http://powerman.name/patch/gpm.html).

gpm-1.20.7-xclip-support.patch

diff -rupN gpm-1.20.7-orig/src/daemon/do_selection.c gpm-1.20.7-xclip/src/daemon/do_selection.c
--- gpm-1.20.7-orig/src/daemon/do_selection.c   2012-10-27 10:21:38.000000000 +1300
+++ gpm-1.20.7-xclip/src/daemon/do_selection.c  2014-07-29 13:40:19.546689653 +1200
@@ -19,18 +19,49 @@
  *
  ********/

+#include <sys/stat.h>
+#include <sys/wait.h>
 #include "headers/message.h"        /* messaging in gpm */
 #include "headers/daemon.h"         /* daemon internals */
 #include "headers/gpmInt.h"         /* daemon internals */
+#include "headers/xcap.h"         /* daemon internals */

 /*-------------------------------------------------------------------*/
 int do_selection(Gpm_Event *event)  /* returns 0, always */
 {
    static int x1=1, y1=1, x2, y2;
+  
+   /* XCaP start */
+   struct stat X0;
+   FILE *xclip;
+   /* XCaP end */
+
 #define UNPOINTER() 0

    x2=event->x; y2=event->y;
    switch(GPM_BARE_EVENTS(event->type)) {
+       
+      /* XCaP start */
+      case GPM_UP:
+         if(event->buttons==GPM_B_LEFT) {
+             /* check Xwindow: if Xwindow not active - xclip freeze for 6 sec :( */
+             if (stat("/tmp/.X11-unix/X0", &X0) != -1) {
+                 if (!(xclip=popen("/usr/local/bin/xclip -d :0 -i", "w")))
+                     gpm_report(GPM_PR_OOPS,"open pipe");
+                 /* send currect selection to Xwindow clipboard */
+                 fwrite(sel_buffer, sizeof(char), sel_buffer_lth, xclip);
+                 if (!WIFEXITED(pclose(xclip)))
+                     gpm_report(GPM_PR_OOPS,"close pipe");
+             }
+             /*resize sel_buffer back to "normal" size*/
+             if(sel_buffer_lth>SCR_SIZE) {
+                 free(sel_buffer);
+                 sel_buffer=malloc(SCR_SIZE);
+                 sel_buffer_lth=SCR_SIZE;
+             }
+         }
+      /* XCaP end */
+
       case GPM_MOVE:
          if (x2<1) x2++; else if (x2>maxx) x2--;
          if (y2<1) y2++; else if (y2>maxy) y2--;
diff -rupN gpm-1.20.7-orig/src/daemon/loadlut.c gpm-1.20.7-xclip/src/daemon/loadlut.c
--- gpm-1.20.7-orig/src/daemon/loadlut.c    2012-10-27 10:21:38.000000000 +1300
+++ gpm-1.20.7-xclip/src/daemon/loadlut.c   2014-07-29 13:40:29.895722875 +1200
@@ -30,6 +30,8 @@
 #include "headers/daemon.h"         /* daemon internals */
 #include "headers/gpmInt.h"         /* GPM_SYS_CONSOLE  */

+#include "headers/xcap.h"
+
 int loadlut(char *charset)
 {
    int i, c, fd;
@@ -47,7 +49,9 @@ int loadlut(char *charset)
    };


+/*
 #define inwordLut (long_array+1)
+*/

    for (i=0; charset[i]; ) {
       i += getsym(charset+i, &this);
@@ -56,9 +60,15 @@ int loadlut(char *charset)
       else
          next = this;
       for (c = this; c <= next; c++)
-         inwordLut[c>>5] |= 1 << (c&0x1F);
+         (long_array+1)[c>>5] |= 1 << (c&0x1F);
    }

+   /* XCaP */
+   /* used in mode=1 (word-by-word selection) */
+   for (i=0; i<8; i++) 
+      inwordLut[i] = long_array[i+1];
+   /* XCaP */
+
    if ((fd=open(option.consolename, O_WRONLY)) < 0) {
       /* try /dev/console, if /dev/tty0 failed -- is that really senseful ??? */
       free(option.consolename); /* allocated by main */
diff -rupN gpm-1.20.7-orig/src/daemon/old_main.c gpm-1.20.7-xclip/src/daemon/old_main.c
--- gpm-1.20.7-orig/src/daemon/old_main.c   2012-10-27 10:21:38.000000000 +1300
+++ gpm-1.20.7-xclip/src/daemon/old_main.c  2014-07-29 13:40:36.184743068 +1200
@@ -33,6 +33,8 @@
 #include "headers/daemon.h"         /* daemon internals */
 #include "headers/gpmInt.h"         /* daemon internals */

+#include "headers/xcap.h"         /* daemon internals */
+
 #ifndef max
 #define max(a,b) ((a)>(b) ? (a) : (b))
 #endif
@@ -73,6 +75,11 @@ int old_main()
       maxfd=max(fd, maxfd);
    }

+   /* XCaP start */
+   sel_buffer=malloc(SCR_SIZE);
+   sel_buffer_lth=SCR_SIZE;
+   /* XCaP end */
+
 /*....................................... catch interesting signals */

    signal(SIGTERM, gpm_killed);
diff -rupN gpm-1.20.7-orig/src/daemon/selection_copy.c gpm-1.20.7-xclip/src/daemon/selection_copy.c
--- gpm-1.20.7-orig/src/daemon/selection_copy.c 2012-10-27 10:21:38.000000000 +1300
+++ gpm-1.20.7-xclip/src/daemon/selection_copy.c    2014-07-29 13:40:42.677763908 +1200
@@ -22,11 +22,28 @@
 #include <fcntl.h>                  /* open              */
 #include <unistd.h>                 /* close             */
 #include <time.h>                   /* time              */
+#include <sys/kd.h>


 #include "headers/message.h"        /* messaging in gpm */
 #include "headers/daemon.h"         /* daemon internals */

+#include "headers/xcap.h"
+
+/* XCaP start */
+/* inword() from /usr/src/linux-2.4.19/drivers/char/selection.c */
+static inline int inword(const unsigned char c) {
+    return ( inwordLut[c>>5] >> (c & 0x1F) ) & 1;
+}
+/* atedge() from /usr/src/linux-2.4.19/drivers/char/selection.c */
+static inline int atedge(const int p, int size_row)
+{
+    /* p+2 changed to p+1 because kernel operate with screen address */
+    return (!(p % size_row) || !((p + 1) % size_row));
+}
+/* XCaP end */
+
+
 void selection_copy(int x1, int y1, int x2, int y2, int mode)
 {
 /*
@@ -37,6 +54,106 @@ void selection_copy(int x1, int y1, int 
    unsigned short *arg = (unsigned short *)buf + 1;
    int fd;

+   /* XCaP start */
+   int i, j;              /* loop variables */
+   FILE *co_fptr;         /* file with current console image */
+   char scr[SCR_SIZE];            /* current console image */
+   int scr_lth;           /* current console image size */
+   char scrmap[E_TABSZ];   /* current screen map for inverse translation */
+   int p1, p2;                    /* cursor top/left and bottom/right position */
+   int n1, n2;                    /* selection top/left and bottom/right position */
+   int tmp;               /* temp integer */
+   char *bp, *obp;        /* temp pointers to fill sel_buffer */
+
+   /* read data from the console */
+   if( ((co_fptr=fopen("/dev/vcs","r"))==NULL) && /* usual /dev/ */
+      ((co_fptr=fopen("/dev/tty0","r"))==NULL) ) /*  */
+          gpm_report(GPM_PR_OOPS, "open /dev/vcs or /dev/tty0");
+   scr_lth = fread(&scr, sizeof(char), SCR_SIZE-1, co_fptr);
+   fclose(co_fptr);
+   scr[scr_lth] = 0;
+   /* unmap font translation */
+   /* ... is it possible to use kernel's inverse_translate() here? */
+   if ((fd=open_console(O_RDONLY))<0)
+      gpm_report(GPM_PR_OOPS,GPM_MESS_OPEN_CON);
+   if (ioctl(fd,GIO_SCRNMAP,&scrmap))
+      gpm_report(GPM_PR_OOPS,"GIO_SCRNMAP");
+   close(fd);
+   for (j=0; j<scr_lth; j++) {
+      for (i=0; i<E_TABSZ; i++)
+          if ((unsigned char) scrmap[i] == (unsigned char) scr[j])
+              break;
+      scr[j] = (char) i;
+   }
+   /* calc start-position and how many bytes to copy */
+   if (y1>y2) { tmp=y1; y1=y2; y2=tmp; tmp=x1; x1=x2; x2=tmp; }
+   if (y1==y2 && x1>x2) { tmp=x1; x1=x2; x2=tmp; }
+   p1 = (y1-1)*win.ws_col+x1-1;
+   p2 = (y2-1)*win.ws_col+x2-1;
+   n1 = 0;
+   n2 = 0;
+   /* selection logic from /usr/src/linux-2.4.19/drivers/char/selection.c */
+   if (mode==0) { /* character-by-character selection */
+      n1=p1;
+      n2=p2;
+   }
+   if (mode==1) { /* word-by-word selection */
+      tmp = isspace(scr[p1]);
+      for (n1 = p1; ; p1--) {
+          if ((tmp && !isspace(scr[p1])) || (!tmp && !inword(scr[p1])))
+              break;
+          n1 = p1;
+          if (!(p1 % win.ws_col))
+              break;
+      }
+      tmp = isspace(scr[p2]);
+      for (n2 = p2; ; p2++) {
+          if ((tmp && !isspace(scr[p2])) || (!tmp && !inword(scr[p2])))
+              break;
+          n2 = p2;
+          if (!((p2+1) % win.ws_col))
+              break;
+      }
+   }
+   if (mode==2) { /* line-by-line selection */
+      n1 = p1 - p1 % win.ws_col;
+      n2 = p2 + win.ws_col - p2 % win.ws_col - 1;
+   }
+   /* select to end of line if on trailing space */
+   if (n2 > n1 && !atedge(n2, win.ws_col) && isspace(scr[n2])) {
+      for (p2 = n2+1; ; p2++)
+          if (!isspace(scr[p2]) || atedge(p2, win.ws_col))
+              break;
+      if (isspace(scr[p2]))
+          n2 = p2;
+   }
+   /* save selection to sel_buffer */
+   if (mode<3) {
+      /* is the buffer big enough? */
+      if(((n2-n1+1)>=sel_buffer_lth) && ((n2-n1+1)>=SCR_SIZE)) {
+          free(sel_buffer);
+          sel_buffer=malloc((n2-n1+1)+1);
+      }
+      /* save selection, replac<C5> trailing spaces to \n in each line */
+      bp = sel_buffer;
+      obp= sel_buffer;
+      for (i = n1; i <= n2; i++ ) {
+          *bp = scr[i];
+          if (!isspace(*bp++))
+              obp = bp;
+          if (! ((i+1) % win.ws_col)) {
+              if (obp != bp) {
+                  bp = obp;
+                  *bp++ = '\n';
+              }
+              obp = bp;
+          }
+      }
+      sel_buffer_lth = bp - sel_buffer;
+      *(sel_buffer+sel_buffer_lth) = 0;
+   }
+   /* XCaP end */
+
    buf[sizeof(short)-1] = 2;  /* set selection */

    arg[0]=(unsigned short)x1;
diff -rupN gpm-1.20.7-orig/src/daemon/selection_paste.c gpm-1.20.7-xclip/src/daemon/selection_paste.c
--- gpm-1.20.7-orig/src/daemon/selection_paste.c    2012-10-27 10:21:38.000000000 +1300
+++ gpm-1.20.7-xclip/src/daemon/selection_paste.c   2014-07-29 13:40:48.754783436 +1200
@@ -22,15 +22,23 @@
 #include <time.h>                   /* time              */
 #include <fcntl.h>                  /* open              */
 #include <unistd.h>                 /* close             */
+#include <sys/wait.h>

 #include "headers/message.h"        /* messaging in gpm */
 #include "headers/daemon.h"         /* daemon internals */
+#include "headers/xcap.h"

 void selection_paste(void)
 {
    char c=3;
    int fd;

+   /* XCaP start */
+   int i;
+   struct stat X0;
+   FILE *xclip;
+   /* XCaP start */
+
    if (!opt_aged && (0 != opt_age_limit) &&
       (last_selection_time + opt_age_limit < time(0))) {
       opt_aged = 1;
@@ -41,9 +49,30 @@ void selection_paste(void)
       return;
    }

+   /* XCaP start */
+   /* check Xwindow: if Xwindow not active - xclip freeze for 6 sec :( */
+   if (stat("/tmp/.X11-unix/X0", &X0) != -1) {
+      if (!(xclip=popen("/usr/local/bin/xclip -d :0 -o", "r")))
+          gpm_report(GPM_PR_OOPS,"open pipe");
+      /* read Xwindow clipboard into current selection */
+      if ((i = fread(sel_buffer, sizeof(char), SCR_SIZE-1, xclip)) > 0)
+          *(sel_buffer+(sel_buffer_lth=i)) = 0;
+      if (!WIFEXITED(pclose(xclip)))
+          gpm_report(GPM_PR_OOPS,"close pipe");
+   }
+   fd=open_console(O_WRONLY);
+   for(i=0; i<sel_buffer_lth; i++)
+      if (ioctl(fd,TIOCSTI,&sel_buffer[i]) < 0)
+          gpm_report(GPM_PR_OOPS,"TIOCSTI");
+   close(fd);
+   return;            /* never paste from kernel buffer */
+   /* XCaP end */
+
+/*
    fd=open_console(O_WRONLY);
    if(ioctl(fd, TIOCLINUX, &c) < 0)
       gpm_report(GPM_PR_OOPS,GPM_MESS_IOCTL_TIOCLINUX);
    close(fd);
+*/
 }

diff -rupN gpm-1.20.7-orig/src/headers/xcap.h gpm-1.20.7-xclip/src/headers/xcap.h
--- gpm-1.20.7-orig/src/headers/xcap.h  1970-01-01 12:00:00.000000000 +1200
+++ gpm-1.20.7-xclip/src/headers/xcap.h 2014-07-29 13:40:53.619799026 +1200
@@ -0,0 +1,14 @@
+/*
+ * Xwindow Copy&Paste patch
+ * (c) 2002 Alex Efros <powerman@asdfGroup.com>
+ */
+
+#define SCR_SIZE 10240 /* current console image, for 80x25 needed only 2000 */
+
+#include <asm/types.h> /* __u32 */
+__u32 inwordLut[8];    /* used in gpn.c and gpm.c */
+
+char *sel_buffer;      /* buffer with current selection */
+int sel_buffer_lth;    /* size of buffer with current selection */
+
+
diff -rupN gpm-1.20.7-orig/src/prog/display-buttons.c gpm-1.20.7-xclip/src/prog/display-buttons.c
--- gpm-1.20.7-orig/src/prog/display-buttons.c  2012-10-27 10:21:38.000000000 +1300
+++ gpm-1.20.7-xclip/src/prog/display-buttons.c 2014-07-29 13:41:00.881822332 +1200
@@ -36,7 +36,7 @@
 #include <stdio.h>            /* printf()             */
 #include <time.h>             /* time()               */
 #include <errno.h>            /* errno                */
-#include <gpm.h>              /* gpm information      */
+#include <headers/gpm.h>              /* gpm information      */

 /* display resulting data */
 int display_data(Gpm_Event *event, void *data)

Configure it to start after a reboot

/etc/rc.local

# Support for a shared clipboard
(/usr/bin/Xvfb :0 >/dev/null 2>&1) &
sleep 1
DISPLAY=:0 /bin/VBoxClient --clipboard
/usr/local/bin/xclip-gpm -m /dev/input/mice -t exps2
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It is not yet implemented, see this outstanding feature request which is 6 years old already.

https://www.virtualbox.org/ticket/1139

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I found a roundabout way of getting Windows clipboard content into guest Linux, sharing it here in case anyone else finds it useful:

  • First, install the incredibly useful ClipX (I was lucky in that I had it already installed and had just been browsing through its plugin list for other reasons when I came across this copy-paste problem.)

  • Also install the ClipX DiskLog Plugin 1.2 from the same page

  • Right click the ClipX icon in the system tray, Configure and choose a location for the file (note: this file will store all your clipboard content, choose a private location and/or clear it up regularly), let's say D:\Personal\clipboard\clip.txt

  • On your Linux guest, install the Virtualbox Guest additions (instructions available elsewhere, and ignore any X-related errors during installation, the needed "shared folders" feature will still work)

  • In your Virtualbox go to Devices->Shared Folders, add the above folder D:\Personal\clipboard\ and give it a name, say clipboard (you might wish to restart the guest before continuing unless you wish to manually mount the drive at this point)

  • Now create an alias in your .bashrc (or .bash_aliases if you prefer) that says

    alias winclip='tail -n 1 /media/sf_clipboard/clip.txt'
    
  • Whenever you wish to use the current Windows clipboard contents on the command line, just use $(winclip) at that point

That looks like a lot of steps, but it all takes only a few minutes, and avoids the hassle of running a VM server and a Putty client and sshing through for this simple feature. I haven't found a way to make it bidirectional though, suggestions welcome!

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This is how I enabled bidirectional clipboard support for my Debian 7.4.0 server that I installed without the Gnome desktop environment. I'm using VirtualBox 4.3.6.

Install and start the X server:

apt-get install x-window-system-core && startx

Install xclip for clipboard support

apt-get install xclip

Install tools so Virtualbox can build the guest additions

apt-get install bzip2 build-essential linux-headers-`uname -r`

Mount the guest addition image and install the additions

mount /dev/cdrom /mnt && bash /mnt/VBoxLinuxAdditions.run

Finally restart debian with shutdown -r now.

I got the instructions for installing the guest additions here. This blog entry is useful for customizing xclip.

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