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I run my Ubuntu instance out of Virtual Box in the background using the following command:

VBoxManage startvm ${VM_NAME} --type headless

The main difference between that and running it through the GUI is that, when I am in the GUI after it starts, I can check ifconfig to see what the IP address is so that I can ssh into it from my terminal on the host and obviously can't do that in the background.

Assuming a dynamic assignment of IP addresses on the network, is there a way to extract the assigned IP to the newly created instance for ssh purposes OR is there a way to ssh into it without knowing the IP (e.g. via a backdoor port on the host)?

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3 Answers 3

You can use the VBoxManage command to extract the IP address, as shown in this forum post on virtualbox.org:

VBoxManage guestproperty enumerate <vmname>

Unless you have very good reasons, though, you'll want to strongly consider assigning a static IP address to your guest vm. This is possible even though you are probably using DHCP. Just pick an IP address outside the range that your DHCP server allocates.

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that command did not return the IP address –  amphibient Aug 20 '13 at 14:01
You need to have the guest additions installed for this to work. –  heavyd Aug 20 '13 at 14:42

First at all make sure you have installed VirtualBox Extension Pack or install it if don't.

For example ( for Ubuntu )

> wget http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/4.2.12/Oracle_VM_VirtualBox_Extension_Pack-4.2.12-84980.vbox-extpack
> sudo VBoxManage extpack install ./Oracle_VM_VirtualBox_Extension_Pack-4.2.12-84980.vbox-extpack

or from


After that you can get IP of VM

VBoxManage guestproperty enumerate <_name_of_VM_> | grep IP | grep -o -w -P -e '\d{1,3}\.\d{1,3}\.\d{1,3}\.\d{1,3}'
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still doesnt display the IP for me –  Josh Nankin Apr 21 at 22:20

You can look at the DHCP table in the router, before startup and after and compare them. If the router displays the computer name, that makes it a lot easier of course. This is maybe not a sofisticated solution, but it works.

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