How To: Fix Bidirectional Copy/Paste Issues for Kali Linux Running in VirtualBox

Fix Bidirectional Copy/Paste Issues for Kali Linux Running in VirtualBox

Last week, I updated VirtualBox on my computer since I had skipped a few versions, then I could no longer copy text or paste text from my Kali virtual machine to my host OS and vice versa. Installing the Guest Additions didn't seem to do anything, and the bidirectional shared clipboard was enabled, but there was one thing that did work for me that may help you out too if you experience the issue.

From what I can tell, the issue persists across multiple VirtualBox versions for Linux, macOS, and Windows. Some users have reported that manually reinstalling Guest Additions did the trick, but not for me. Downgrading VBox was also an option, but a last-ditch effort if you ask me. Some people claim that upgrading VBox to the latest version worked for them, but not me.

I initially updated VirtualBox on my Mac via "Check for Updates," but it was actually not the most up-to-date version available, so I re-updated to the real lastest version from VirtualBox's downloads page. That did not work for me either, even after messing with Guest Additions again.

There are probably countless reasons why the bidirectional clipboard between the virtual machine and host operating system may not be working for you, and each may have a different solution, but this is what finally worked for me. If you are running as a standard user and not as a root user, use sudo before each command necessary.

After updating to the latest VBox, purge the guest files.

~# apt-get remove -y virtualbox-guest-x11
~# apt-get remove -y virtualbox-guest-dkms
~# apt-get remove -y virtualbox-guest-utils

Next, reboot the Kali Linux virtual machine.

~# reboot

Now, download the Guest Additions file that pertains to your VirtualBox version. For me, it's 6.1.6, but if you're using another version, swap out those numbers in the command.

~# wget https://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/6.1.6/VBoxGuestAdditions_6.1.6.iso

After that's done downloading, make a new directory for the ISO.

~# mkdir /media/iso

Then mount the ISO in that directory. The -o loop part is for mounting the ISO as a block device to interact with its filesystem as if it were a CD in your physical disc drive. Again, make sure to swap out the 6.1.6 with whatever version you're working with.

~# mount VBoxGuestAdditions_6.1.6.iso /media/iso -o loop

Now, in that directory, run the VBoxLinuxAdditions.run file from the ISO. When asked to input "yes" or "no," use yes.

~# /media/iso/VBoxLinuxAdditions.run

yes

To finish things up, reboot your virtual machine once again.

~# reboot

Then, when things are back up, double-check that "Bidirectional" is selected in the "Shared Clipboard" under "Devices." I've seen this solution work for Kali running in VirtualBox on Linux, macOS, and Windows, so hopefully, it'll do the trick if you're experiencing copy/paste issues too.

If anyone else has had the issue and found a different fix that worked, post it in the comments below because it may help somebody else out if the above solution didn't do the trick.

Now, since I upgraded a Kali version that changed the default user from root to standard, I have to figure out how to get back my custom "select all" command for highlighting all text in the terminal. Unfortunately, it does not seem as easy as it used to be.

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Cover photo by Justin Meyers/Gadget Hacks

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1 Comment

Your proposed fix unfortunatelly didnt work for me.
Instead after a fresh import of the Kali VirtualBox Image, i had to insert the Virtualbox Guest Additions CD.

Then simply run autorun.sh and after successful installation process, reboot machine.

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