If you’re a regular user of VirtualBox, you’ve probably experienced the frustration of deploying a virtual machine only to find it completely unreachable from your network. It’s a common issue that can leave you scratching your head and wondering why that new WordPress deployment or server setup is nowhere to be found. In this guide, I’ll show you how to make your VirtualBox virtual machine accessible from your Local Area Network (LAN).
The Importance of Proper Configuration
I use VirtualBox daily for various tasks, from testing new applications and operating systems to deploying servers. However, if you don’t configure your virtual machines correctly, they become effectively useless within your network. To ensure that your virtual machines are reachable from your LAN, proper configuration is key. I’m here to show you exactly how to achieve this, so you can save yourself from the frustration of inaccessible virtual machines.
How to Connect a VirtualBox Virtual Machine from Your LAN
Before we dive into the details, you’ll need the following:
- A running instance of VirtualBox
- An available guest virtual machine
The great news is that it doesn’t matter what operating system you’re using for either the host or the guest machine, as the process is the same regardless.
It’s All About the Bridge
When you create or configure a virtual machine in VirtualBox, you’ll come across a Network section with tabs for each available network adapter. In most cases, you’ll see only one adapter, usually named “Adapter 1”. Within this tab, you’ll find a drop-down labeled “Attached to.” By default, it’s set to NAT.
NAT stands for Network Address Translation, which involves mapping an IP address to another by altering the IP packet header as it passes through a router. If you use NAT as your network adapter for the virtual machine, you’ll notice that the network on the guest is different from that of the host OS. For instance, if your host machine has an IP address of 192.168.1.62, the guest’s address is likely to be something like 10.0.2.15.
In theory, it’s possible to reach 10.0.2.15 from 192.168.1.62, but in practice, that’s not often the case. Most of the time, you won’t be able to reach the 10.0.2.15 address from 192.168.1.62. However, you can reach 192.168.1.62 from 10.0.2.15. This setup works well if you only need to access the internet from the guest. But if your guest is a server and you need to reach it from the LAN, you must change NAT to Bridge.
Here’s how to do it:
- Open VirtualBoxBegin by opening the VirtualBox application. If your guest OS is running, you’ll need to shut it down, either completely or by saving its current running state.
- Select Your Guest and Open SettingsIn the left sidebar, select the guest operating system, and then click “Settings” in the top toolbar. This will open the VirtualBox Settings window.
- Change NAT to Bridged AdapterIn the “Attached to” drop-down, select “Bridged Adapter,” which will make the guest operating system accessible from the LAN. Click “OK” and then start the guest. Once the guest is up, you should be able to access it from the LAN.
You’ll need to find the IP address for the virtual machine, which varies depending on the operating system you’re using. For instance, if the guest is running Linux, you can view the IP address with the command
With the IP address in hand, you can access the virtual machine, as it now shares the same address scheme as other machines on your LAN.
By following these steps and configuring your VirtualBox virtual machine to use a Bridged Adapter, you can ensure that your virtual machines are always accessible from your LAN. This simple adjustment can save you a lot of frustration and make your virtualization projects more effective.
1. Why can’t I access my VirtualBox virtual machine from my LAN?
If you can’t access your VirtualBox virtual machine from your LAN, it’s likely because the network adapter is set to NAT. You should change it to a Bridged Adapter to make the virtual machine accessible from your LAN.
2. Can I use any operating system for the host and guest machines?
Yes, you can use any operating system for both the host and guest machines. The process for making the virtual machine accessible from your LAN remains the same regardless of the operating systems used.
3. How do I find the IP address of my virtual machine?
The method for finding the IP address of your virtual machine depends on the guest operating system. For example, if you’re running Linux, you can use the
ip a command to view the IP address.
4. Is this configuration permanent?
Yes, the configuration change to use a Bridged Adapter is permanent until you decide to change it back to NAT or a different network mode.
5. Can I access the virtual machine from the internet as well?
Yes, with a Bridged Adapter configuration, your virtual machine will be accessible both from your LAN and the internet, provided you configure the necessary firewall and routing rules.