VirtualBox 6.0 brings a much needed upgrade to the UI

VirtualBox 6.0 is out and includes a number of improvements including a new file manager, more support, and modern interface.

Image: Oracle

I've used VirtualBox for a very, very long time. Over the years, I noticed that the user interface had barely changed. All the way up to the later 5.x iterations, the interface remained mostly the same (with a few icon shifts and the addition of newer features demanding new menus and/or menu entries). That lack of evolution was fine because the tool worked incredibly well. With the major release of 6.0, that aging VirtualBox UI needed some serious polish.

And serious polish is what it received.

Meet the new UI

With VirtualBox 6.0 the UI has undergone a radical shift. Now the interface (Figure A) better matches the modern design found in many newer operating systems. In fact, VirtualBox 6.0 now looks and feels at home on most recent desktops. Whether you're running the latest releases of Ubuntu, Fedora, Linux Mint, Elementary OS, Windows, or macOS, VirtualBox will fit right in.

Figure A

Figure A

The new VirtualBox interface is a vast improvement over the old.

What's best about this drastic design shift is that everything still works as expected. And the designers went out of their way to create a UI that is just as intuitive as the previous incarnation. With a simple double-click on a stopped or saved virtual machine, it starts. Select a virtual machine, and a new menu icon will appear (Figure B). Click on that icon to gain quick access to Details, Snapshots, and Logs.

Figure B

Figure B

The VM quick access menu.

The new interface doesn't change how you create and manage virtual machines, as the New, Settings, Discard, and Start buttons are still prominent and ready to serve. In fact, the new interface was so well designed, it changes very little in how you work with the tool--it just makes it more efficient and simple.

Of course, a major release requires much more than a bit of shine on the interface. There's much more to love under the hood.

Significant improvements

Other improvements found in VirtualBox 6.0 include:

  • Much improved 3D support: This includes Windows guest 3D graphics and Linux/Solaris guest VMSVGA option for 3D device emulation.
  • Surround-sound speaker set ups: This comes in conjunction with the Windows 10 October update (build 1809).
  • Hyper-V as a fallback execution core for Windows hosts: This helps fix problems running a 64-bit guest when Windows Security sandboxing is enabled.
  • New File Manager: This is used for transferring files between Guest and Host.
  • Support: This is for the exporting of virtual machines to Oracle Cloud infrastructure.
  • Support: This is for Apple vbox-img, which allows host machines to access the content of a guest disk.
  • Linux kernel: 4.20 support added.
  • Improved HiDPI and scaling support for high-end displays.
  • Improved audio/video recording: This can be enabled separately).

Note: You can view the entire VirtualBox changelog here.

However, in order for the new file manager to work (Figure C), you must install the Guest Additions for each virtual machine. If you fail to install (or upgrade) Guest Additions, the file manager connection to the guest will fail.

Figure C

Figure C

The VirtualBox 6.0 file manager tool in action.

All-in-all, VirtualBox 6.0 is a welcome, much-needed improvement over the previous iteration. With the addition of the new file manager tool (making it incredibly easy to transfer files between guest and host) and the other new features, the shiny new UI wraps up one of the biggest and brightest updates the virtual machine manager has ever enjoyed. Upgrade to VirtualBox 6.0 on a non-production machine first. Once you're certain everything meets (or exceeds) your expectations, roll it out and enjoy.

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