How to install VirtualBox on Debian 8 “Jessie” GNU/Linux

This short tutorial will help everyone that needs to install VirtualBox on Debian 8 “Jessie” GNU/Linux. Most of the steps are the same as those, one will need to install VirtualBox on the latest versions of Ubuntu GNU/Linux or GNU/Linux Mint or any other Debian based GNU/Linux distribution.

Oracle VirtualBox is a powerful x86 and AMD64/Intel64 virtualization product for enterprise as well as home use. Not only is VirtualBox an extremely feature rich, high performance product for enterprise customers, it is also one of the best professional solutions that are freely available as Free / Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2. Although some VirtualBox non-GPL parts or closed-source components are available in a separate extension pack.

Presently, VirtualBox runs on GNU/Linux Distributions, BSD, Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS, and Solaris hosts and supports a large number of guest operating systems including but not limited to Windows (NT 4.0, 2000, XP, Server 2003, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10), DOS/Windows 3.x, Linux (2.4, 2.6, 3.x and 4.x), Solaris and OpenSolaris, OS/2, FreeBSD and OpenBSD.

VirtualBox is being actively developed with frequent releases and has an ever growing list of features, supported guest operating systems and platforms it runs on. VirtualBox is a community effort backed by a the Oracle company, A FLOSS project where everyone is encouraged to contribute while Oracle somewhat ensures the product always meets professional quality criteria.

In this tutorial, we will cover two ways to install VirtualBox on Debian 8:

  • From Official Debian Contrib repositories “VirtualBox-4.3.36
  • From Oracle repositories VirtualBox-5.1.14

Install VirtualBox on Debian 8 from Offcial Debian Jessie GNU/Linux Repositories

The virtualbox-* packages were moved to contrib at VirtualBox 4.2, as a non-free compiler (Open Watcom) is required to build the BIOS.

We want the contrib component to be added to our file that lists the ‘sources’ from which packages can be obtained, so we will add contrib after main like below:

$ sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

Replace the two lines below:

deb jessie main
 deb-src jessie main


deb jessie main contrib non-free
 deb-src jessie main contrib non-free

Then we update our packages sources list with:

$ sudo apt-get update

Then install the virtualbox package available in the official repositories, as well as all its dependencies with:

$ sudo apt-get install virtualbox

Install VirtualBox on Debian 8 from Oracle Repositories

To install the latest version on Debian 8 Jessie GNU/Linux, we will have to use the official Oracle repository.

Firstly, we will use the nano text editor to edit /etc/apt/sources.list file and append to it the following line. In general, one can find his system distribution code name using “lsb_release -c” command from a terminal.
For Debian 8 ("Jessie")
deb jessie contrib

Press Ctrl+O to save the file. Then press Ctrl+X to close the file.

Now fetch the Oracle GPG public key and import it to our Debian 8 system with the following command so packages apt-secure downloaded from Oracle repository can be verified.

wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add -

After completing above steps, then all left to do is update local package index and install Virtualbox 5.1.

sudo apt update
sudo apt install virtualbox-5.1

The we can check the version number of VirtualBox that we’ve just installed by clicking on help > about VirtualBox.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *