Technology, Tutorial, Ubuntu

Getting Virtualbox working on Lenovo E540 and T530 on Ubuntu 20.04

Turns out this was a bit of a perfect storm for this combo to start working.

  1. There is a bug where some dependency linux header thing messes up getting the right DKMS thing installed and it presents these kind of errors no matter what tricks you try to pull:
  2. The BIOS in the Lenovos had need of enabling virtualization

Part 1 – The Virtualbox Bug Stuff

Kernel driver not installed (rc=-1908)
The VirtualBox Linux kernel driver is either not loaded or not set up correctly.
Please reinstall virtualbox-dkms package and load the kernel module by executing
‘modprobe vboxdrv’ as root.

No doubt this will be resolved soon (this bug section) so if you are reading this in mid 2021 probably this probably isn’t your issue. But if it is slow to resolve and persists, here is a quick step-by-step pulled from the from the step-by-step in the post above since I still felt like I had to take some shots in the dark…

  1. Open a Terminal app window
  2. Copy and paste this command to add the fixed Virtualbox repository (do it with right click with your mouse if you haven’t done much terminal work before).
    echo "deb [arch=amd64] https://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/debian $(lsb_release -sc) contrib" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/virtualbox.list
  3. Paste the command in the Terminal and run it by pressing enter.
    Note: It frankly doesn’t seem to do anything but it does…
  4. Copy and paste this to install the Virtualbox key:
    wget https://www.virtualbox.org/download/oracle_vbox_2016.asc
  5. Enter this command and update packages if needed (should be needed…):
    sudo apt update
  6. If needed (you will see a note that packages are upgradable) upgrade your packages with this command:
    sudo apt upgrade
  7. Install the new and hopefully working Virtualbox 6.1:
    sudo apt install virtualbox-6.1

Note: None of the posts I read explained whether I needed to try to delete the old install of Virtualbox first so I took a leap of faith and just installed it (without deleting) hoping that it would automatically wipe out old versions of Virtualbox. It seems that it worked, so let’s go with that 🙂 Generally I believe you should purge old stuff before putting on new stuff though.

Part 2 – The BIOS Stuff for the Lenovo E540 and T530

After starting it things started to look a notch better in Virtual box abut in terminal I still had this error and it would not continue to what I recall as ‘normal’:

Errors were encountered while processing:
virtualox-dkms
Sub-process / usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1)

Then when I tried to open the test VM it spat out this error:

VT-x is disabled in the BIOS for all CPU modes.

At that point I (thankfully) recall seeing in the BIOS there was a kind of ‘enable virtualization’ option so perhaps I tried that next with (yay) success. Here are the steps to enable virtualization in a Lenovo:

  • Start pc
  • Press enter key (as instructed on black screen) to interrupt startup
  • Hit F1 key to get to BIOS
  • Right arrow to “security” tab
  • Down arrow to “Virtualization”
  • Select and enable “Intel (R) Virtualization Technology”
  • Hit F10 and ‘yes’ to save changes and get out of BIOS dodge…

Restart virtual box and BOOM! Hopefully tears of joy not pain?

This did suck, but I hope some or all of it helped one or more of you.

You might also be interested in a short related post where I explain how to get the ‘Guest Additions’ stuff (virtualbox enhancements) working

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