Installing Zorin on a virtual machine

I recently installed ZORIN 15.3 Core on a virtual machine using Oracle’s VirtualBox It took me some time to get rid of the various obstacles encountered upon installation. This post shall help others for saving time when undertaking the same enterprise.

Subsequently, I use VirtualBox terminology and familiarity with VirtualBox is assumed. It is strongly recommended to read the main parts of the VirtualBox manual available at Oracle’s website.

  • Download the actual version of VirtualBox, the corresponding extensions (also called GuestAdditions or GuestExtensions) and the manual if your host computer is a 64-bit machine.

  • Download VirtualBox 5.2.44 and the corresponding extensions if your host computer is a 32-bit machine. As no manual for VirtualBox 5.2.44 is available for download, use the manual of the actual version. Once VirtualBox 5.2.44 is installed, the manual for VirtualBox 5.2.44 can be inspected by calling Help\Contents in the VirtualBox Manager.

I installed VirtualBox 5.2.44 on a 32-bit machine running Windows 7 Enterprise. Installation may differ not that much for other hosts, as the repair for the encountered problems were mainly on the Linux side.


Hint 1: Use the Snapshot feature of VirtualBox so that you can revert to previous guest system states if something went wrong when changing the guest. Snapshots have the same use as restore points in Windows systems. It is recommended to call Machine\Take snapshot… from the top line of the guest screen after each restart of the guest.

Hint 2: Unless ZORIN’s configuration is changed, the screen will be locked after some time of non-activity. Use the ESC button to see the Unlock-dialogue.

Hint 3: If you prefer English (or some other language) as the system language but use a keyboard which is customized to another language (thus providing special keys), choose the keyboard’s language upon ZORIN’s installation. The system language can be changed to the preferred language afterwards while keeping the use of the special keys.

In the subsequent steps

  • VM: xyz” means “do xyz in the VirtualBox Manager”
  • ZN: xyz” means “do xyz in ZORIN”

Once you have installed your version of VirtualBox, proceed as follows:

(01) VM: Call New for creating a new virtual machine named GM (for guest machine), say, and follow the dialogue. Use Ubuntu (64 Bit) when specifying the Linux version.

(02) VM: Call Settings and specify the (virtual) hardware configuration of GM.

(03) Connect the storage medium at the host, e.g. an USB-disk, holding Zorin-OS-15.3-Core-64-bit.iso, i.e. the most recent ZORIN version at the time of writing.

(04) VM: Call Start (or Show), navigate to Zorin-OS-15.3-Core-64-bit.iso, select and start.

(05) ZN: Follow ZORIN’s installation dialogue. Subsequently we assume that “cesar” (without quotation marks) is choosen here as the user name in ZORIN.

(06) VM: Select Machine\Close\Power Off to power off GM.

(07) VM: Select Start to start GM.

(07.1) ZN: Change the system language if required and reboot using Z-button\Power off\Restart.

(08) ZN: Select Z-button\System Tools\Software Updater, install the updates and select Restart Now in the dialogue box.

(09) ZN: Select Z-button\Utilities\Terminal, insert

	sudo apt-get update 
	sudo apt-get install build-essential gcc make perl  

answer Y when asked whether to continue upon execution of the second command, and close the terminal window when finished.

(10) ZN: Reboot using Z-button\Power off\Restart.

(11) VM: Open Devices at the top line of the screen, select Optical Drives\Choose disk image, navigate to the folder containing VBoxGuestAdditions.iso in the host dialogue which opens, select this file and choose Open in the host dialogue. This results in the appearance of a disk icon as well as a dialog box on ZORIN’s desktop. Choose Run in this box to install the GuestAdditions on GM. After completion of the installation, the icons of the shared folders which had been specified in step (02) appear on ZORIN’s desktop.

(12) ZN: Reboot using Z-button\Power off\Restart.

(13) ZN: Select Z-button\Utilities\Terminal, insert

	sudo adduser cesar vboxsf 
	sudo apt-get install virtualbox-guest-dkms

answer Y when asked whether to continue upon execution of the second command, and close the terminal window when finished.

(14) ZN: Reboot using Z-button\Power off\Restart to finish the installation. Now you can begin to work with your fresh installation of ZORIN.


(09) These commands care for the complete and correct installation of the GuestAdditions which is initiated in step (11). Note that an incomplete installation of the GuestAdditions results if step (09) is skipped!

(13) The first command enables full access to shared folders and their elements (relative to the access rights specified in step (02)). The second command cares for the proper appearance of the guest’s display at the screen, see Observations/Guest display below.


Shared items (i) Shared folders work – relative to the restrictions imposed on them in step (02) – as claimed in the VB manual. (ii) The shared clipboard does not work for folders and files. This means that one cannot copy or cut a folder or a file in the host (guest) and then move to the guest (host) for pasting it. However, the shared clipboard works for copied text. (iii) Drag’n’Drop does not work either. (There must be some further commands to make these features work. If someone knows the solution, it would be nice to see it posted here.)

Guest display Having installed ZORIN, my computer screen was used with its full width and hight when showing the guest’s desktop, except that Windows’ task bar was displayed at the screen’s bottom (which was fine with me). I frequently restarted ZORIN upon installation without problems, but when restarting another time suddenly only a part of the screen was used, i.e. some part at the right of the guest’s desktop was not displayed (without a horizontal scroll bar provided). Consequently I could not use ZORIN as parts of the dialog boxes were hidden. Eventually I found the second command of step (13) on the web which made the View commands of the guest screen work. However, the screen settings in VirtualBox as well as in ZORIN had to be properly adjusted in addition. As a workaround

(15) VM: Call File\Preferences\Display, select Hint for Maximum Guest Screen Size and provide values for Width and Height such that the guest display uses the screen as much as possible, but without the need for scroll bars.

(16) ZN: Call Settings\Devices\Resolution, select some setting and use the Apply button to check whether your selection satisfies your need.

For instance, I use a laptop with screen resolution 1366 x 768 which is connected to an external monitor with resolution 1680 x 1050. I get the best results when specifying 1600 and 900 for Width and Height in VirtualBox as well as in ZORIN when using the external monitor, but change the ZORIN settings to 1366 x 768 when using the laptop screen.