Oracle VirtualBox is unable to list/filter the USB devices attached to my system. As a result, the guest OS is not able to see any USB device either.

This is my configuration:

  • Host: VirtualBox 5.0.0 r101573 on Ubuntu 14.04, with Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack installed
  • Guest: Windows 7, with VirtualBox Guest Additions installed

I've been trying with a USB flash drive and a Garmin sports watch: when connected to the host, they are both recognised by the system, i.e. they are in the list outputted by the lsusb command.

However, when running VirtualBox, no USB device is actually detected (Enable USB Controller is obviously checked). If I select the VM, then Settings -> USB and I try to add a filter, a tooltip is displayed:

<no devices available>

I've tried different options as USB controller, even tried to attach the devices to different USB ports (2.0 instead of 3.0), but that didn't change anything. Since no USB devices are listed there I assume the problem is with the host, not with the guest.

The USB mouse I have is working in both the host and the guest, but that's probably a device that is treated differently.

The VBox.log does not report anything suspicious regarding the USB, and VirtualBox does not throw any error either.

The same problem occurred when I had VirtualBox 4.3.30 installed.

Is there a way to resolve the issue?

  • 1
    most likely you don't have access rights to /dev/bus/usb/XXX/YYY . try running virtualbox as a root as a temporary measure to confirm. – akhmed May 1 '17 at 4:16

Please add your user name to the vboxusers group with this command:

sudo adduser $USER vboxusers

After that you must logout and login. (For Ubuntu 20.04, a reboot is required)

Please check this for more details:


  • 6
    I have the same issue in opensuse adding myself to vboxusers group did not solve the problem – Calin Jan 13 '16 at 7:47
  • 2
    @Calin Adding your account to group vboxusers works only, if /dev/bus/usb/XXX/YYY belongs to group vboxusers too. – Olaf Dietsche Aug 14 '16 at 14:45
  • 4
    You can also check if this is working with following command: VBoxManage list usbhost – sequielo Jan 8 '17 at 19:34
  • 2
    @olaf-dietsche All that /dev/bus/usb/… belongs to user root, group root... any advice, what to do then? – Frank Nocke Mar 23 '18 at 12:20
  • 3
    @FrankNocke I ran into this just today. Adding the GID to the udev rules file installed by vbox does the trick. See github.com/dnschneid/crouton/wiki/VirtualBox-udev-integration. It does feel kludgy though. – Raghu Jun 12 '18 at 14:43

If you don't have the adduser command, you can do this instead:

sudo usermod -aG vboxusers $USER

Logout and login again in order to reload user's group info and usb device will now show up in the list.

  • Worked for me. Ubuntu 20.04 – Eric Duncan Sep 13 '20 at 22:13

First of all, @csorig's answer is right. You need to be in the vboxusers group. That's the basic.

But if it still doesn't work for any reason... it's not documented anywhere, but I found that USB host device sharing does not work if the system has run out of inotify resources.

You can try running tail -f /var/log/syslog or something like that. If it shows up a message like:

tail: inotify cannot be used, reverting to polling: Too many open files

then you need to increase your inotify watch limit or disable software that is consuming them. In my case it was a continuous backup software running in background.

The basic method to increase this limit is:

echo fs.inotify.max_user_watches=524288 | sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf && sudo sysctl -p
  • Thanks @kFYatek! Found the problem much faster because of your comment! Just wanted to note that in my case the error happened even though tail -f /var/log/syslog worked just fine (no warning)… – ntninja Dec 19 '17 at 21:19
  • I'm still getting the inotify cannot be used after increasing the limit. – James Hirschorn May 13 '20 at 21:03
  • I fixed the inotify issue with fs.inotify.max_user_instances. However, this did not help with the missing USB devices. – James Hirschorn May 13 '20 at 21:21

There's a lot of things that can go wrong when sharing USB to guests. In any case, the checklist I did was:

  • install the Extension Pack on the host and Guest Additions on the guest.
  • add current user to vboxusers group.
  • manually add the corresponding USB filter in VirtualBox settings and only connect the device after finish booting the guest OS.
  • under VirtualBox, select USB 3.0 (xHCI) Controler.

I've successfully managed to share a USB stick to a Windows XP guest on a Linux Mint 19 host after some initial failed attempts. Good luck !

  • 1
    This answer is the only complete and correct one. Note that you need a recent VirtualBox Extension Pack installed to get USB 3.0 support. – Luke Hutchison Aug 7 '20 at 8:38

After numerous searching I've concluded with the help of this wiki to the below script that fixed the problem:


# Heavily inspired by https://github.com/dnschneid/crouton/wiki/VirtualBox-udev-integration

vbox_usbnode_path=$(find / -name VBoxCreateUSBNode.sh 2> /dev/null | head -n 1)
if [[ -z $vbox_usbnode_path ]]; then
    echo Warning: VBoxCreateUSBNode.sh file has not been found.
    exit 1

chmod 755 $vbox_usbnode_path
chown root:root $vbox_usbnode_path

vboxusers_gid=$(getent group vboxusers | awk -F: '{printf "%d\n", $3}')

vbox_rules="SUBSYSTEM==\"usb_device\", ACTION==\"add\", RUN+=\"$vbox_usbnode_path \$major \$minor \$attr{bDeviceClass} $vboxusers_gid\"
SUBSYSTEM==\"usb\", ACTION==\"add\", ENV{DEVTYPE}==\"usb_device\", RUN+=\"$vbox_usbnode_path \$major \$minor \$attr{bDeviceClass} $vboxusers_gid\"
SUBSYSTEM==\"usb_device\", ACTION==\"remove\", RUN+=\"$vbox_usbnode_path --remove \$major \$minor\"
SUBSYSTEM==\"usb\", ACTION==\"remove\", ENV{DEVTYPE}==\"usb_device\", RUN+=\"$vbox_usbnode_path --remove \$major \$minor\""

echo "$vbox_rules" > /etc/udev/rules.d/virtualbox.rules
rm -f /etc/udev/rules.d/*-virtualbox.rules
udevadm control --reload
adduser `logname` vboxusers

echo All actions succeeded.
echo Log out and log in to see if the issue go fixed.

Be sure to have VM VirtualBox Extension Pack installed and at least USB 2.0 (EHCI) Controller enabled at VM's USB settings.

After these, run the above script with sudo.


Interestingly it also failed on me when vboxusers was the the last line of /etc/group!

I just permuted it with the former line and it started to work! May be I could simply have added an empty line at the very end of /etc/groups, I did not check.

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