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Auto-starting VirtualBox VMs on OS X

Auto-starting VirtualBox VMs on OS X

After finding a lot of other posts on the topic that didn't work out for me this one did the trick so I'm reposting for my own sense of self preservation.

Link to original article.

Copy the Virtualbox autostart plist template file to your system's LaunchDaemons folder.

sudo cp \
    /Applications/VirtualBox.app/Contents/MacOS/org.virtualbox.vboxautostart.plist \
    /Library/LaunchDaemons

Then edit /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.virtualbox.vboxautostart.plist set Disabled to false, set KeepAlive to true, and confirm the last string entry in the command array is set to /etc/vbox/autostart.cfg. The file should look like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
<dict>
<key>Disabled</key>
<false/>
<key>KeepAlive</key>
<true/>
<key>Label</key>
<string>org.virtualbox.vboxautostart</string>
<key>ProgramArguments</key>
<array>
<string>/Applications/VirtualBox.app/Contents/MacOS/VBoxAutostartDarwin.sh</string>
<string>--start</string>
<string>/etc/vbox/autostart.cfg</string>
</array>
</dict>
</plist>

Make the directory /etc/vbox and create the file /etc/vbox/autostart.cfg with the following content:

default_policy = deny
osxusername = {
allow = true
}

Make sure to change osxusername to the username on your system that the VMs are under.

Next properly set permissions:

sudo chmod +x /Applications/VirtualBox.app/Contents/MacOS/VBoxAutostartDarwin.sh
sudo chown root:wheel /etc/vbox
sudo chown root:wheel /etc/vbox/autostart.cfg
sudo chown root:wheel /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.virtualbox.vboxautostart.plist

Now, configure the VMs that should automatically start and set how they should be stopped:

VBoxManage modifyvm vmname --autostart-enabled on
VBoxManage modifyvm vmname --autostop-type acpishutdown

Finally, test the configuration by running:

sudo launchctl load /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.virtualbox.vboxautostart.plist

After a reboot, the VMs that have been set with autostart enabled should be running!

References

https://www.virtualbox.org/manual/ch09.html#autostart-osx

https://forums.virtualbox.org/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=51593&start=15#p240724

https://forums.virtualbox.org/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=51529#p236492

@FaimMedia
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Why so difficult? Go to System Settings -> Users & Groups -> Login, drag and drop the .vbox file, check the 'hide' box. Done!

virtualbox

@alst-ovh
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alst-ovh commented May 5, 2018

Have done it for my Headless Mac Mini Server look at https://github.com/alst-ovh/mac_vboxautostart

macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 and Virtualbox 5.2.10

@deisi
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deisi commented Oct 26, 2018

@FaimMedia
This works well for starting the VM but not for stopping. Also it keeps a window of the vm open on screen at all times.

Especially stopping is an Issue. If you try to shut down the host system, the vm will prevent the host from shutting down and instead endlessly wait for user input.

@graycreate
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<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
<dict>
  <key>Disabled</key>
  <false/>
  <key>KeepAlive</key>
  <true/>
  <key>Label</key>
  <string>org.virtualbox.vboxautostart</string>
  <key>ProgramArguments</key>
  <array>
    <string>/Applications/VirtualBox.app/Contents/MacOS/VBoxAutostartDarwin.sh</string>
    <string>/etc/vbox/autostart.cfg</string>
  </array>
  <key>RunAtLoad</key>
  <true/>
  <key>LaunchOnlyOnce</key>
  <true/>
</dict>
</plist>

This still could work, thanks for all.

@rraymondgh
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For those that like to automate to setup, following ansible tasks will configure MacOS host

ansible
    - name: vm autostart config exists
      ansible.builtin.file:
        path: /etc/vbox
        state: directory
        recurse: true
      become: true

    - name: vm autostart config
      ansible.builtin.copy:
        dest: /etc/vbox/autostart.cfg
        content: |
          default_policy = deny
          {{ ansible_user_id }} = {
          allow = true
          }
      become: true

    - name: get vm autostart plist
      community.general.xml:
        xmlstring: "{{ lookup('ansible.builtin.file', '/Applications/VirtualBox.app/Contents/MacOS/org.virtualbox.vboxautostart.plist') }}"
        xpath: /plist/dict/key[.='Disabled']/following-sibling::*[1]
        state: absent
      register: autostart_xml

    - name: vm autostart plist, enable
      community.general.xml:
        xmlstring: "{{ autostart_xml.xmlstring }}"
        xpath: /plist/dict/key[.='Disabled']
        insertafter: true
        add_children:
          - "false"
      register: autostart_xml

    - name: vm autostart plist
      ansible.builtin.copy:
        dest: /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.virtualbox.vboxautostart.plist
        content: "{{ autostart_xml.xmlstring }}"
      become: true

I'm using vagrant to create my vm. Following excerpt will set vm properties

Vagrant.configure("2") do |config|
  config.vm.provider "virtualbox" do |vb|
    vb.customize ["modifyvm", :id, "--autostart-enabled", "on"]
    vb.customize ["modifyvm", :id, "--autostop-type", "poweroff"]
  end
end

This works with VirtualBox 6.1

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