VirtualBox/Higher Screen Resolution without installing VirtualBox Guest Additions

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Higher Screen Resolution without installing VirtualBox guest additions[edit]

This is still experimental. As in tested by few people. You should always be able to undo these changes. Doesn't hurt to always have a recent backup, just in case. This is an alternative to using VirtualBox Guest Additions for higher screen resolution. See also #Security Considerations.

To get higher screen resolution without installing VirtualBox guest additions, create a file called, say /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/00-virtualbox-monitor.conf.

If there's no such directory, you need to create it first:

sudo mkdir -p /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d

Open file /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/00-virtualbox-monitor.conf in an editor with root rights.

(Qubes-Whonix ™: In TemplateVM)

This box uses sudoedit for better security [archive]. This is an example and other tools could also achieve the same goal. If this example does not work for you or if you are not using Whonix, please refer to this link.

sudoedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/00-virtualbox-monitor.conf

With the following contents:

Section "Device"
  Identifier "VirtualBox-Device"
  Option "Monitor-default" "VirtualBox-Monitor"

Section "Monitor"
  Identifier "VirtualBox-Monitor"
  VendorName "VirtualBox"
  ModelName "VirtualBox"
  HorizSync 1.0 - 1000.0
  VertRefresh 1.0 - 1000.0
  Option "MinClock" "1.0"
  Option "MaxClock" "10000.0"
  Option "Primary" "True"
  Option "PreferredMode" "1600x1200"

Section "Screen"
  Identifier "MyScreen"
  Device "VirtualBox-Device"
  Monitor "VirtualBox-Monitor"

And restart lightdm[1] or reboot.

This will make Whonix ™ come up in 1600x1200 mode by default.

You can change the default mode by changing the "PreferredMode" option in the "Monitor" section. You can dynamically switch modes from the command line with "xrandr --output default --mode [whatever]", and you can see a list of available modes with plain "xrandr".

You can also change screen resolution using the KDE graphical user interface, go to Start Menu → System Settings → Display and Monitor. If you want some screen resolution that is not listed there (e.g. 1440x900), you can can try the next on your host:

vboxmanage setextradata "VM Name" "CustomVideoMode1" "1440x900x32"

If you do not see your Start Menu button anymore (because it is outside the screen), you can start Konsole and manually start System Settings by running systemsettings.


If Ubuntu 14.04 has a screen resolution of 640x480 you may be able to get 1024x768 by simply by running xdiagnose and changing any setting under Debug. Marking them all or unmarking "Enable automatic crash reporting", are reported to work. Reboot.

Security Considerations[edit]

  • It might [archive] be better not to maximize the Tor Browser window.
  • To prevent accidentally maximizing a window, it is recommend to deactivate the following option: KDE → System Settings → Screen Edges → Uncheck: Maximize Windows by dragging them to the top of the screen.
  • It might also be better not to use the same screen resolution as on your host.


If this doesn't work for you for some reason or if you want to revert these changes, simply delete /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/00-virtualbox-monitor.conf.

sudo rm /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/00-virtualbox-monitor.conf

And restart lightdm[1] or reboot.

Technical Stuff[edit]


By anonymous user.

The reason you can't just get higher resolutions using xrandr "--newmode" and "--addmode" without an xorg.conf file appears to be that VirtualBox is not providing EDID information to the default VESA driver. The driver therefore makes the conservative assumption that it can't drive the "monitor" with the high clock rates needed for larger display sizes. The above config file tells the driver that it can use an effectively infinite range of clock rates.

See VirtualBox get-edid output.

How to use xserver-xorg-video-modesetting?[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1
    sudo service lightdm stop

    sudo service lightdm start

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