I'm using VirtualBox 4.0.8 with Windows 7 Enterprise 64 bit host and debian 6.0.1a amd64 guest (in CLI mode).

I installed Guest Additions and it seems to work, at least partially, as I have successfully setup a shared folder between host and guest.

However every time I boot the guest, I get the following messages on console:

Starting VirtualBox Guest Addition service ...done.
startpar: services(s) returned failure: vboxadd-service ... failed!

There is no additional error message in any of the logs (checked syslog and VBoxGuestAdditions.log)

Additionally, I'm unable to use shared clipboard between host and guest (it's set to bidirectional, but neither direction seems to work). I assume this might be related to the service start failure.

Any idea how to fix this?


I faced similar issue. I went through this Installing Guest Additions on Debian. Follow the steps mentioned there. Sometimes missing build-essential module-assistant packages cause the issue.


  1. Login as root
  2. Update your APT database with apt-get update
  3. Install the latest security updates with apt-get upgrade
  4. Install required packages with apt-get install build-essential module-assistant
  5. Configure your system for building kernel modules by running m-a prepare
  6. Click on Install Guest Additions… from the Devices menu, then run mount /media/cdrom
  7. Run sh /media/cdrom/VBoxLinuxAdditions.run, and follow the instructions on screen

For me it did the trick. :)

  • 2
    External links can break, in which case your answer wouldn't be useful. For this reason, we ask that you include the essential information within your answer and use the link for attribution and further reading. Can you expand you answer? Thanks. – fixer1234 Sep 2 '15 at 16:27
  • 3
    Thanks to Francisco Tapia for adding the details from the link to this post. As @fixer1234 states, links can die and link only answers are not helpful. The answer as it stands now—with the link plus the instructions—is what a good answer should be. – Giacomo1968 Sep 2 '15 at 19:32
  • 2
    @JakeGould it shows that 30 seconds of effort to give a answer make a big difference, even if is wrong. – Francisco Tapia Sep 2 '15 at 20:04
  • @FranciscoTapia Considering this answer was posted to a 4+ year old question, we’ll most likely never know if this solved—or had anything to do—with the user’s core issue. But it’s still good information. – Giacomo1968 Sep 2 '15 at 23:03
  • this fixed my tools on Debian 8.5 in VirtualBox 5.1.2 – Jako Sep 6 '16 at 20:12

[disclaimer] this is an old post, written before systemd and the like. The goal is the same, but removing /etc/init.d/ files isn't correct, you should use systemctl disable XXXX rather than deleting files. [/disclaimer]

[update] I've also posted a solution here for the error Failed to connect to the guest property service: https://github.com/NixOS/nixops/issues/908#issuecomment-387275731

1) If you run the /media/cdrom/VBoxLinuxAdditions.run then you'll have some startup scripts in /etc/init.d that doesn't come with Debian default package.

You should get rid of these: ls /etc/*/*vbox* (remove all rcX.d and init.d files with vbox in the filename).

Important note: You should also look for already compiled modules: find /lib/modules/ -name "vbox*" and remove these (based on the assumption that everything was badly installed). If you have multiple files with the same name, that could explain the whole issue (multiple versions of Guest additions are installed).

Or you can simply run: sh /media/cdrom/VBoxLinuxAdditions.run uninstall.

2) Install only the Debian package virtualbox-guest-dkms: it seems that VirtualBox doesn't depend on build-essential and module-assistant but needs both packages (as stated by @gaborous)! So install all three:

sudo apt-get install build-essential module-assistant virtualbox-guest-dkms

3) To check everything's fine, for example using systemctl command, just after removing all traces of the CD-Rom install:

  • vboxadd-service.service not-found failed failed vboxadd-service.service
  • vboxadd.service not-found active exited vboxadd.service
  • virtualbox-guest-utils.service loaded active running LSB: VirtualBox Linux Additions
  • virtualbox-guest-x11.service loaded active exited LSB: VirtualBox Linux X11 Additions
  • virtualbox.service not-found active exited virtualbox.service

After restart:

  • virtualbox-guest-utils.service loaded active running LSB: VirtualBox Linux Additions
  • virtualbox-guest-x11.service loaded active exited LSB: VirtualBox Linux X11 Additions

4) use systemctl --failed to list all units that have failed.

And you're back on Debian's wonderful packages :-)

  • 1
    This fixed my issue. However, there wasn't any file to remove with ls /etc/*/*vbox*, but that doesn't matter as installing virtualbox-guest-dkms and apt-get install build-essential module-assistant fixed the issue on its own, I could boot up correctly in my Debian afterward. – gaborous Jun 6 '16 at 12:18
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    Note that it's also possible to uninstall the Guest Additions using sh /opt/VBoxGuestAdditions*/uninstall.sh – gaborous Jun 6 '16 at 12:26

Make sure that you don't have the multiple copies of the Virtual Box Guest Additions installed. Squeeze will pick up that it is inside a Virtual Box virtual machine and install the 3.x OSE version of the tools automatically.

  • I searched for all installed packages via "aptitude search virtualbox", only "virtualbox-ose-guest-dkms" shows up as installed. That should be correct, right? – András Szepesházi Jun 27 '11 at 12:25

After uninstalling the packages Debian automatically added for you, remove the services : cd /etc/init.d && insserv -r vboxadd vboxadd-service vbox-add-x11

This removed the startup services for me. However, the scripts are still there. If you want to remove them : cd /etc/init.d && rm vboxadd vboxadd-service vbox-add-x11

BTW: to uninstall the packages : dpkg -l | grep virtual. Then do apt-get remove --purge <list_of_the_packages>

In my case : apt-get remove --purge virtualbox-ose-guest-dkms virtualbox-ose-guest-utils virtualbox-ose-guest-x11 && apt-get autoremove && apt-get autoclean did the trick.

Also, for some reasons, I couldn't have the shared folder with Debian's guest additions. So I had to add the ones from Virtual Box. Add the Cd (should be host key + D, I'm running a french version can't tell the english labels). Then mount the cdrom and run the script with : mount /media/cdrom && bash /media/cdrom/VBoxLinuxAdditions.run.


I fixed the same issue by sudo apt-get install build-essential (installing dependencies) and reinstalling guest additions.


Uninstall virtualbox-ose and reinstall all VirtualBox Debian packages with:

aptitude search virtualbox

Un-checking the Guest Additions iso from Devices may help you - it did for me:


This is a workaround for when you have no access to the command-line. I was encountering the error on startup, so I didn't have access to any command-line interface and all suggested commands through googling didn't work.

This helped me:

  • Updated VBox from 5 to 6
  • Created a new VM with the old VM .vdi volume.

And the vbox service error was fixed! (Maybe it could even be fixed just by the second step!)

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