The virtualbox kernel service is not running

After a recent set of updates, booting into Linux Mint produced a (transient) pop-up message box indicating that “The virtualbox kernel service is not running”. My immediate reaction was that there must be some problem that was preventing VirtualBox from starting. Then, I thought about this for a minute. I did have VirtualBox loaded on this machine at one time, but then I uninstalled it. This being the case, there is no reason that the virtualbox kernel service should be running! So, what’s going on?

Update – My blow-everything-away fix worked for me but one user found that it caused a boot failure on his system. The good news is that there is a more robust fix in the recent release of Linux Mint 17.3 (Rosa). Update to Rosa or modify the script file with the same code used by Rosa. See the comments section below for full details.

A web search produced the answer in the Linux Mint Forums. Evidently, a developer included a script to test if the VirtualBox kernel module is present. If the kernel is not found, the message box is displayed briefly and the boot process continues normally.

The flaw in this logic, is for situations like mine, where VirtualBox isn’t installed and, consequently, the kernel isn’t running. Now the information imparted by the message is true, but the message itself is completely unnecessary.

The problem is that many users will assume that something is wrong. Why would the operating system produce a pop-up message unless there is a problem? And, indeed, this was the gist of many postings on Linux Mint Forums.

A couple of users took the position that the flurry of concern was a storm in a teacup – no need to panic, it’s just a pop-up message, nothing happens. However, many others, indicated that they found the message to be either misleading and/or a nuisance.

I found one respondent’s tongue-in-cheek suggestions particularly amusing – something along the lines of: if this message is a harmless pop-up, what are we to expect next? – messages to indicate that “You are logged in”, “Your desktop has loaded”, etc.

While a web search on the “issue” quickly reveals that there is no underlying problem, for those of us who consider the pop-up to be both completely unnecessary and an unwanted nuisance, the question is how to eliminate it. Some users suggested purging the updates that created the script that produced the pop-up message; however, this approach got mixed reviews. For some users, this approach appears to have eliminated the pop-up while, for others, the message re-appeared on subsequent boot-ups. Another user suggested that “…we can always edit the script…”, and this has been my approach.

I didn’t want to spend time understanding the details of the script’s operations and a very quick scan of the code indicates that it is merely looking for a running instance of VirtualBox. Since, I am not running this software, nor do I have any plans to implement it in the foreseeable future, my quick-and-dirty solution was to comment out all the lines of code in the script. Now, at boot-up, the script is called, effectively has no executable commands, and so exits without doing anything – including not producing any pop-up message. “Problem” solved.

For anybody wanting to use this approach, and needing more detailed instructions, here’s what I did:

(1) In Terminal enter: sudo gedit /etc/X11/Xsession.d/98vboxadd-xclient (or substitute pluma for gedit if you are using the default text editor)

(2) On every line of the script that doesn’t start already with a # symbol, type a # symbol as the first character on the line (this makes the line into a “comment”)

For example, we are going to modify the section of code that was originally:

if test -f /proc/modules && ! grep -q vboxguest /proc/modules 2>/dev/null; then
   # Do not start if the kernel module is not present.
   notify-send "VBoxClient: the VirtualBox kernel service is not running.  Exiting."


#if test -f /proc/modules && ! grep -q vboxguest /proc/modules 2>/dev/null; then
   # Do not start if the kernel module is not present.
#   notify-send "VBoxClient: the VirtualBox kernel service is not running.  Exiting." 

(3) Save the modified file.

Commenting out all the lines of code in the script file means that the script will run but do nothing. In particular, the line of code (notify-send… shown above) that generated the pop-up message is now treated as a comment and so the pop-up message is not generated.

Clearly, this approach is only applicable if VirtualBox is not being activated at boot time. But if, like me, you are not running VirtualBox, this “fix” will eliminate the annoying pop-up.


vboxclient the virtualbox kernel service is not running

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6 Responses to The virtualbox kernel service is not running

  1. Sammy says:

    May God bless you Sir.

  2. steve says:

    Just for reference: running 32bt xfce 17.2 mint which seems to have this virtual box kernel note at start-up. I would have to record that following the instructions here for removing the pop up, has just rendered my OS UN-boot-able. I have had to use ‘Yannububtu’ to gain access to the file mentioned here to restore it’s original settings.
    It may not work on all versions of mint. I will leave well alone I think.
    On my other rig the ‘virtualbox not running’ appeared in .xsession-errors , to cure that I deleted both virtualbox-guest-utils and virtualbox-guest-x11.
    All fine now but don’t know why any virtual-box pieces are installed by default, it’s a mystery!

    • Alan German says:


      My fix may indeed not work on all versions of Mint; however, I have two further – and safer – suggestions for you.

      First, let me just note that my first thought about editing the script file was to simply comment out the notify-send command thinking that this would prevent the pop-up message box. However, it would appear that bash doesn’t like an “empty” command inside an if-then-else loop since the result was that Mint wouldn’t boot to the GUI interface but essentially left me at a command prompt. Interestingly though, commenting out all the lines in the script worked just fine on my system.

      Now, on to the real fix. There are two possibilities:

      (1) Upgrade to Linux Mint 17.3 (Rosa) as doing so eliminates the pop-up message.

      (2) If you don’t want to upgrade to Rosa, you can still use the fix adopted in Rosa. Change the notify-send line in the if-then-else loop in the script file to read:

      if test -f /proc/modules && ! grep -q vboxguest /proc/modules 2>/dev/null; then
      # Do not start if the kernel module is not present.
      true # “VBoxClient: the VirtualBox kernel service is not running. Exiting.”

      Note that “notify-send” has been replaced by the command “true” and the rest of the line has been commented out by adding the # symbol.

      So, if VirtualBox is not running the true command is called which essentially does nothing. In addition, the notify-send command has been removed from the command line so, nothing further happens, and the pop-up message is no longer displayed.

      Hope this works for XFCE.


  3. I just modified the notify-send to echo and it worked great.
    From this.
    . test -f /proc/modules && ! grep -q vboxguest /proc/modules 2>/dev/null; then
    # Do not start if the kernel module is not present.
    notify-send “VBoxClient: the VirtualBox kernel service is not running. Exiting.

    To This.

    if test -f /proc/modules && ! grep -q vboxguest /proc/modules 2>/dev/null; then
    # Do not start if the kernel module is not present.
    echo “VBoxClient: the VirtualBox kernel service is not running. Exiting.

  4. jazz says:

    the issue is neither. /dev/vboxguest simply isnt there. READ THE CODE. vboxdrv and /dev/vboxdrv and even vbox itself may be loadable or loaded, YET… the device we want isnt there, so we bitch about it. The com port is there but not at dev TTYACMx so complain….

    • Alan German says:


      The specific cause of the messaging is not really the issue. The fact is that a message is displayed that some users find to be of no value and/or an annoyance. However, there is no need to bitch or complain; the problem is fixed. Users who are plagued by this issue can edit the offending script or update to Rosa (Mint 17.3) in which the script has been fixed as noted in the comments above.


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