VirtualBox Guest Additions do not work in Kali Linux anymore (small screen, no shared clipboard) (SOLVED)

If immediately after installing Kali Linux in VirtualBox, the desktop of virtual computer does not stretch to the full screen, then you need to install the VirtualBox Guest Additions:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install -y virtualbox-guest-x11
sudo reboot

If you have already installed the VirtualBox Guest Additions, but they stopped working suddenly (after reboot virtual computer with Kali Linux on board has a small screen, there is no shared clipboard with the guest OS)

and simply reinstalling virtualbox-guest-x11 does not help, then run the following commands:

sudo apt purge virtualbox-guest-x11
sudo apt autoremove --purge
sudo reboot
sudo apt update
sudo apt dist-upgrade
sudo reboot
sudo apt update
sudo apt install -y virtualbox-guest-x11
sudo reboot

The cause of the problem

In my case after an unsuccessful update (free space of the physical hard disk with my guest OS was over, so the virtual disk of guest OS just did not have space to stretch) appeared this problem. As I already wrote, the simple reinstallation of the additions of the Guest Additions did not help. The above solution allowed me to solve the problem completely.

But in addition to the emergency shutdown during the upgrade, the very common reason that the VirtualBox Guest Additions stopped working in Kali Linux is a simultaneous update of the Linux kernel and the Guest Additions. The problem arises precisely at major updates of the Linux kernel, for example, from 4.16 to 4.17. If an update occurs within a single branch, for example from 4.17.2 to 4.17.3, then, most likely, the problem does not arise.

During the OS upgrading the mechanism of occurrence of this error in the following:

  • the kernel is updating, but the old kernel continues to work during the current session;
  • VirtualBox Guest Additions are installed. During installation, they are always compiled under the current kernel, i.e. in our case under the ‘old’ Linux kernel;
  • the new Linux kernel starts working on the next boot, but VirtualBox Guest Additions cannot start normally due to the fact that they are compiled under the old kernel.

If you fall into the situation described above, then the above method will help you.

To prevent this situation, you need to upgrade the Linux kernel and VirtualBox Guest Additions separately, separating them by a reboot.

Ideally, you need to update VirtualBox Guest Additions first, since they are designed to work with both the new kernel and the old one. If you first upgrade the Linux kernel, it may turn out that the old VirtualBox guest add-ons are not capable to work with the new kernel or work with errors.

In some rare cases, even the described method does not help. Then the only option is to wait until the VirtualBox Guest Additions will be updated to compatible with the current Linux kernel.

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