Fix Ubuntu 11.04 Unity and visual effects in Virtualbox

A while ago i wrote a post about how to install Ubuntu 11.04 on virtualbox. But some people were having issues getting to install Ubuntu 11.04. Here is a new post for you guys who are experiencing trouble to fix ubuntu 11.04 unity 3D interface and triggering the disabled visual effects.

One of my friends was unable to enable the visual effects in Ubuntu 11.04. He was complaining that the windows were reverting back to a Windows-95ish classic theme and also the unity 3d wasn’t starting up. If you are facing same kind of problems read on below to fix ubuntu 11.04 unity issues and to enjoy Ubuntu 11.04 the way it was meant to.

First things first, Ubuntu 11.04 will not work if you are using Virtualbox version below 4.0. There’s a complete overhaul of graphic drivers seen in the release of 4.0 series so you need to make sure that you are running a version which is 4.0 or greater. Download the latest build of Virtualbox here. If you need USB 2.0 support, Virtualbox RDP and PXE boot for Intel cards you can also download the extension pack in the downloads directory.

Ok, so now you have to double check that you have enabled the 3D acceleration in the Display tab. If everything told above is taken care of then you can move on to the next step.

Reinstall Ubuntu 11.04 on Virtualbox 4.0 or higher. See my other post to know the installation instructions. After installation is complete, start the virtual machine and follow the steps below.

Open terminal from the Ubuntu menu and type the following commands to install the latest guest additions and to fix ubuntu 11.04 unity issue:

*To type the following commands you have to be in ADMIN mode. Type sudo su to enter into admin mode*

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install dkms
sudo apt-get install virtualbox-ose-guest-utils

Now restart the virtual machine. Unity 3D interface and the visual effects feature should be working now. You can also install compiz to further enhance your visual effects.

If however you return back again to a Classic windows theme, type the below command to override the default settings:

killall -9 gnome-settings-daemon && gnome-settings-daemon

Thanks to Andrew and Chris Blunt for the solution.

By now your ubuntu must be working all fine and also now you know how to easily fix ubuntu 11.04 unity problem. If however you still encounter any problems feel free to contact me by dropping in a comment !

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  1. Grace V Reply

    Hi Gautam, thanks for this post.

    I installed Ubuntu guest 11.04 64-bit on my Windows 7 64-bit host using VirtualBox 4.0.8, installed the packages suggested, re-installed the Guest Additions, closed down the VM, and then restarted the Ubuntu, but to no avail (and all the while, 3D acceleration is enabled, eventhough it causes Nautilus to fail to load)!

    Any advice?


    • Gautam Doddamani Reply

      Hi Grace. Thanx for the comment. :) Regarding ur problem, its very strongly recommended that you enable IO/APIC and Intel VT-x feature in the virtualbox in order to boot a 64 bit guest OS.
      Check out the red box in this link for more info

      Are you sure if these two features are enabled, and if so check if your BIOS supports virtualization? Lastly i would like to know if you can successfully log into ubuntu..what is the error message you are getting? Give me a link to the log file if you can.

  2. kevin kz Reply

    i have a problem
    when opened ubuntu for the first time it said
    you don’t have the right hardware for unity or sth like this
    how can i fix this because unity is not installed
    also i want to install simple compizconfig settings manager but it says
    package dependencies cannot be resolved

    • Gautam Doddamani Reply

      Hi Kevin. The reason why you are getting that error is because the machine isn’t rendering 3D graphics. Please follow the below precautions to troubleshoot the problem:

      I advise you to use the latest Virtualbox version when running the 11.04 like Virtualbox 4.0.8 or 4.0.10. Also please check if you have enabled the 3D support for the virtual machine. When you are all positive about the above recommendations then i request you to follow the above tutorial and enter the exact commands one by one into the terminal and execute them.

      Lastly install the ubuntu guest additions by typing the third command. If still you are getting the same error, pls contact me! :)

      • kevin kz Reply

        hi Gautam
        i am already usig virtualbox 4.0.10 and i have checked the enable 3d acceleration option in the settings menu in VB
        i have entered the codes showed above and i have to put that code for overriding the default settings so it can have the ubuntu look but without effects
        i will try to contact you so u can help me
        many thanks for your reply

  3. vibhor Reply

    hey gautam
    i have insatlled the latest ubuntu OS and having d same problem about which u were discussing in the previous post.
    the screen hangs after login.. or after selecting ubuntu from boot..
    any suggesstions other than running it in virtual box.
    thanx buddy.

    • Gautam Doddamani Reply

      you may try vmware if you want. other than virtualbox, vmware is the best virtualization software available in the market. google it and download the vmplayer version…it is free and configuration in it is also easy!

  4. justin_renovated Reply

    hi, gautam ,

    i installed ubuntu 11.04 as per u said in ur tutorial, the host is ubuntu 10.10 ,

    i have not gor unity & also i need to re-install each & every time i start thi session,

    pls reply & thanks too

    • Gautam Doddamani Reply

      hi justin..sorrry i don’t how to install 11.04 on linux hosts. :( about the reinstall problem, hav u tried installing 11.04 on a virtual hard disk rather than running it in a live environment…if u r running it in a live environment VB asks u to reinstall it as it didn’t find any boot media. try installing it on a virtual HDD and then proceeding to execute the above commands! :)

  5. GrahamR Reply

    Hi. I upgraded to 11.04 from 10.10 some months ago and it seemed to work fine – although the Unity front end wasn’t for me. But the next day when I restarted the laptop (HP/Compaq nc6000 with ATI Radeon card) all I got was a pixelated screen. So next time it started up, I just selected the Ubuntu Classic (no extras) tab and all was fine. Except for some graphics applications – particularly, Lincity, which worked fine one day, pixelated the next. And OpenCity – worked fine the day it downloaded, then pixelated the next. A few other ‘games’ behave the same. I restarted in Safe mode, but those two apps behave the same – pixelated.
    I can live with Ubuntu 11.04 as is (without unity), but something puzzling is happening with my graphics.
    Have you seen this before? Know a simple fix?
    All the best.

    • Gautam Doddamani Reply

      hi graham. i think there’s a problem wit ur display resolution…its not matching wit ur ubuntu resolution. try setting it correctly in ubuntu display settings. here refer to this guide.

  6. mojtaba Reply

    tanx so much good boy

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