How to Make Ubuntu 20.04 LTS VMs Smoother by Enabling 3D Acceleration on VirtualBox

3D acceleration on VirtualBox


In this quick tutorial I want to show you how to correctly enable 3D acceleration on VirtualBox if you want to make your Ubuntu 20.04 LTS virtual machines more faster and smoother.

With the release of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa) last month, Oracle has recently highlighted one of the features included in the latest VirtualBox 6.1 open-source virtualization software to make your Ubuntu virtual machines faster and smoother.

Since I can’t have several computers around me installed with every GNU/Linux distribution I write about, nor a computer with multiple distros installed, I use virtual machines a lot and VirtualBox has become my best friend lately.

I bet many of you out there reading my articles are using VirtualBox to try various GNU/Linux distributions, just to get a taste of them, without installing them on your PC. So, most probably, you’ve encountered graphical issues and slowness when running certain systems.

Well, it would appear that the latest VirtualBox 6.1 series comes with improved 3D acceleration support for Linux VMs, which translates to better 3D performance on virtual machines, especially those running Ubuntu 20.04 LTS or Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, but other distros should work fine too.

To correctly enable 3D acceleration on VirtualBox virtual machines running Ubuntu or other GNU/Linux distribution, go to Settings > Display and select “VMSVGA” as the “Graphic Controller” and check the “Enable 3D Acceleration” box under Acceleration. Like this…

Then, power on your Ubuntu/Linux virtual machine and install the latest VirtualBox Guest Additions by going to the Devices menu and selecting the “Insert Guest Additions CD image” option.

You will be immediately prompted to install the VirtualBox Guest Additions kernel modules, so proceed with the installation and reboot your virtual machine when the process is over. That’s it! Your Linux VM should now be faster and smoother.

To check if your virtual machine is using 3D acceleration, install the “nux-tools” package with the sudo apt install nux-tools command then run the /usr/lib/nux/unity_support_test -p command in the Terminal app. The output must look like this…

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