Trying to get my USB modem to run in Virtualbox turned out to be more trouble than I suspected. The reason? All the USB devices were grayed out when I went to give the Guest OS the modem. With a bit of Googling I came across the answer.

First, the user must be part of the vboxusers group. You can check this quickly by running cat /etc/group | grep vboxusers and checking to see that your user is in the last section of the resulting string. Here is what mine looked like:

chris@chris-desktop:~$ cat /etc/group | grep vboxusers vboxusers:x:116:chris

Take note of the 116 here. This is the group id number or gid. We need this to enable usb for that group. For Debian, virtual filesystems (which usb is) is taken care of in /etc/init.d/ so we are going to need to edit this file:

chris@chris-desktop:~$ su Password: chris-desktop:/home/chris# nano /etc/init.d/

Now you’re going to want to go down and find a line that looks like this: domount usbfs usbdevfs /proc/bus/usb usbfs -onodev,noexec,nosuid. All we need to do is to append 2 options to this line: devgid=116,devmode=664. This allows us as members of vboxusers to mount usbfs/usbdevfs inside Virtualbox. Your line should look similar to the following with 116 replaced with the id number of your vboxusers group:

domount usbfs usbdevfs /proc/bus/usb usbfs -onodev,noexec,nosuid,devgid=116,devmode=664

There you have it! Give your Debian box a quick reboot and you’re set.

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