Challenges Upgrading VirtualBox to 6.1.12 on Debian Buster - installation from upstream virtualbox.org APT repository

Time of writing 23 July 2020 .

Goal: Upgrading the VirtualBox host software to its recent release 6.1.12 with functional VirtualBox guest additions.

This is currently very difficult due to many issues of which none is caused by Whonix ™. The purpose of this chapter is to document the upcoming implementation for those wondering why it has been implemented this way and perhaps hearing if there are any better alternatives. Here is a summary of these issues:

VirtualBox is unavailable in Debian stable and backports due to Debian stable security maintenance Issues.

Custom Debian backport building failing due to dependency issues [archive]. Very difficult [archive]. Even if that was solved, there would still be the broken compilation from source code issue [archive].

The Lucas Nussbaum Debian buster backport repository [archive] is not an option either. [2] In 23 July 2020 VirtualBox latest version in Lucas Nussbaum repository was
virtualbox_6.1.4-dfsg-1~~bpo10+1_amd64.deb 2020-02-22 07:52 while upstream virtualbox.org was at
virtualbox-6.1_6.1.12-139181~Debian~buster_amd64.deb .

VirtualBox is not available from Debian fasttrack yet [archive].

VirtualBox Guest Additions Debian Packages are unavailable from upstream virtualbox.org Debian repository [archive].

Call for help:

What is the importance VirtualBox on Debian buster matter? It is the base distribution which Whonix ™ is based on and the distribution used to build Whonix ™ for VirtualBox for Linux, Windows and macOS from source code.

To be able to continue providing Whonix ™ for VirtualBox, from Whonix ™ and above the following changes will be made:

  • VirtualBox Host Software
  • VirtualBox Guest Additions
    • Whonix ™ build script will download package virtualbox-guest-additions-iso [archive] from Debian sid (unstable) and upload to Whonix ™ APT repository. That package provides file /usr/share/virtualbox/VBoxGuestAdditions.iso .
    • At time of writing contained VirtualBox guest additions ISO version 6.1.12-1 . In short, 6.1.12 . Ignore the -1 which is a Debian package revision number and not the upstream (virtualbox.org) version number.
    • virtualbox.org homepage also advertised version 6.1.12 .
    • Package virtualbox-guest-additions-iso will be installed by default in new Whonix ™ VirtualBox builds.
    • Related: VirtualBox Guest Additions ISO Freedom vs Non-Freedom
  • This is
    • to allow Whonix ™ developers test newer versions of VirtualBox host software before these are installed on user’s computer and,
    • to allow updating VirtualBox host software and VirtualBox guest additions at the same time, using compatible versions.
  • It is yet to be researched/developed how/if existing Whonix ™ VirtualBox builds can be upgraded and whether that would be an automated (by Whonix ™ a package) or manual (user has to do) process.
  • It is yet to be researched/developed how to make use of /usr/share/virtualbox/VBoxGuestAdditions.iso , i.e. mount, install, update, and automate this process using a script shipped by default in Whonix ™.
  • Other supported platforms such as Qubes-Whonix or Whonix ™ KVM are unaffected.

Added just now to wiki.

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