Virtualbox networking: Windows host, Debian guest

After a lot of farting around with different virtual network adapter types and use cases I finally settled on a networking configuration that works well for developing web apps inside a Debian Virtual Machine running inside Virtualbox on my Windows laptop.

The problem:

  • VM needs to be accessible by the windows host even when laptop is “offline” so I can work on the plane.
  • When laptop is “online”, VM can also access the internet
  • VM should be accessed by host via a static IP address so that dev environment settings persist beyond a reboot

The Solution:

  1. Two virtual network adapters in the VM’s network tab in Virtualbox:
    • Adapter #1: “NAT” / DHCP
    • Adapter #2: “Host-only” / Static IP

    The NAT adapter should already be set up by default when you do a fresh install of Debian in Virtualbox. It enables the VM to access the wider internet.

    Meanwhile the Host-only adapter enables the host machine to see the VM and persists even when internet connectivity drops allowing you to carry on working.

  2. Set up the Virtualbox Host-only network.

    Click File > Preferences > Network, then select “Virtualbox Host-only ethernet adapter” (or whichever host only adapter you selected in the VM’s host-only network adapter tab). Click the edit button which looks like a screwdriver. Enter an unused network in the 192.168.x.x Ip range. I’m using 213.1 because my router is on, but I could use anything in that 3rd octet except 0 I think. The netmask should be but for some reason it still works with – I’m still not quite sure why that is though.

    Click the “DHCP server” tab and uncheck the ‘Enable Server’ checkbox – we don’t need DHCP because we’ll be using a static IP address.

  3. Configure the networking inside the VM

    Log into the VM as root and edit /etc/network/interfaces – it should look like this:

    # The loopback network interface
    auto lo
    iface lo inet loopback

    # The NAT virtual adapter
    allow-hotplug eth0
    iface eth0 inet dhcp

    # The Host-only virtual adapter
    auto eth1
    iface eth1 inet static
    address # this must match Virtualbox host-only network

  4. Reset the VM and you should now be up and running

Set a static IP address on Ubuntu/XAMPP

Edit the following file:/etc/network/interfaces

and adjust it to your needs (in this example setup I will use the IP address

# This file describes the network interfaces available on your system
# and how to activate them. For more information, see interfaces(5).
# The loopback network interface

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

# This is a list of hotpluggable network interfaces
# They will be activated automatically by the hotplug subsystem.

mapping hotplug
script grep
map eth0

# The primary network interface

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet static