Making Ubuntu Server Work in Sun's VirtualBox

Here’s a quick fix if you’re interested in installing a VM running Ubuntu Server in Sun‘s OSS virtualization tool, VirtualBox.

After installing the 32bit version of Ubuntu Server 8.10 in VirtualBox 2.0.4 on my MacBook Pro (OSX), I was faced with the following error message when starting the VM, which I found also happens on other platforms:

This kernel requires the following features not present on the CPU: pae

From Wikipedia:

Physical Address Extension (PAE) refers to a feature of x86 and x86-64 processors that allows more than 4 gigabytes (GB) of physical memory to be used in 32-bit systems, given appropriate operating system support.

Fortunately, the fix was as easy as pie:

  • Once VirtualBox is up and running, select your Ubuntu Server VM.
  • Go to the “General” configuration screen and select the “Advanced” tab.
  • Check the “Enable PAE/NX” option.

Here’s a screenshot:

Ubuntu Server in VirtualBox: PAE/NX option selection

Try starting your VM again, and all should go as planned. It did for me.

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