Oracle VM VirtualBox

6.0.24 / 6.1.32

VirtualBox officially supports OS/2 guests, however, there is currently no ArcaOS-specific machine configuration available. The following directions apply to VirtualBox 6 on a Windows host, though Linux and Mac OSX hosts configure similarly, as does VirtualBox 5 on these platforms.

As with all hypervisors which are to support OS/2 guests, the host system must support Intel VT-x or AMD-V hardware virtualization. Check the host system’s BIOS setup options and manufacturer documentation to be sure this is available.


  • The screenshots here were taken under VirtualBox 6.0.14 and verified under 6.0.24 on Windows. Where screens or textual items differ with VirtualBox 6.1, they are noted with “†” in these directions.
  • On other host systems (Mac or Linux, for example), the layout of some screens may differ from these images, even for these versions, but the terminology should be consistent.
  • Later releases of 6.0 and/or 6.1 may also introduce layout changes. We will attempt to keep this page updated with major changes as we become aware of them.
  • New as of VirtualBox 6.1.32 is the ArcaOS IBM OS/2 subtype. This configuration still requires refinement for optimal use, and we are working with the VirtualBox team to improve the defaults.
  • VirtualBox 7 has been reported to have problems and is not recommended until those problems get resolved by Oracle. If you try VirtualBox 7 make sure you have the latest build.

VM configuration

The following assumes the use of the Oracle VM VirtualBox Manager GUI.

  1. Create a new VM. Select IBM OS/2 as Machine Type, and Other OS/2 as the Version. Set Memory size to 1024MB (minimum recommended: 512MB). In Expert Mode, the settings look like this:
    0 - 6.0.14 VM setup - 1
  2. Configure a virtual hard disk of 2GB (dynamically allocated is fine), and of either VDI, VHD, or VMDK. (Additional virtual disks may always be added later.)

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  1. Once the VM has been added to the list in the VirtualBox GUI, select Settings, and then System. On the Motherboard tab, ensure that Enable I/O APIC is selected. The Chipset may be left at PIIX3.0 - 6.0.14 VM setup - 3aOn the Acceleration tab, ensure that VT-x/AMD-V is enabled (checked). This should be the default setting for an OS/2 machine type. Leave all other System settings at their defaults. (See notes above about hardware virtualization being required in the host system.)
    † – In VirtualBox 6.1, VT-x/AMD-V is assumed to always be available. This option is not displayed.
    0 - 6.0.14 VM setup - 3
  2. Select Display, and set the video memory as desired. Usually, the default is sufficient. This value may always be adjusted after the VM has been created. Do not enable 2D or 3D acceleration, as these will likely provide no performance improvement.† – In VirtualBox 6.1, be sure to keep the default Graphics Controller of VBoxVGA.
      1. Right-click the IDE controller and from its context menu, select Remove Controller (or press <Del>).
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      2. Right-click in the Storage Devices list to access its context menu (or click the Add Controller button below the list) and select Add SATA Controller. The option to Use Host I/O Cache should be checked. Set the Port Count to a reasonable number to accommodate your devices (the AHCI driver recognizes a maximum of 16 ports per controller, so anything higher than this will be ignored by ArcaOS, anyway). 1 device=1 port, so one virtual disk drive and one virtual DVD drive would require two ports in total.
        † – In VirtualBox 6.1, this is listed as AHCI (SATA).
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      3. Click the Add hard disk attachment button to the right of the SATA († – AHCI, in VirtualBox 6.1) controller in the list, and select the option to Choose existing disk.† – In VirtualBox 6.1, the Hard Disk Selector is automatically presented.
        0 - 6.0.14 VM setup - 6
      4. From the list of available drives, select the virtual disk which was previously attached to the now deleted IDE controller. This will still show as Attached (to a controller) because no changes have been saved as yet.
        0 - 6.0.14 VM setup - 7
      5. Back at the Storage Devices list, click the Add optical drive attachment button to the right of the SATA († – AHCI, in VirtualBox 6.1) controller, and select the option to Choose disk.
        † – In VirtualBox 6.1, the Optical Disk Selector is automatically presented.
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      6. Click the Add button above the list of available drives, and browse to the ArcaOS installation ISO. Select the newly added ISO and click Choose.
        0 - 6.0.14 VM setup - 9
      7. Select the virtual hard disk now attached to the SATA († – AHCI, in VirtualBox 6.1) controller, and under Attributes on the right, set the Solid-state Drive option, if desired, to improve seek performance (it is not necessary to have a physical SSD installed in the host system for this option to be set or for its performance boost to be realized; this is just to have the virtual disk behave as an SSD). Be sure to leave the Hot-pluggable option unchecked for both the hard disk and the optical disk.
        0 - 6.0.14 VM setup - 9aSelect Audio, and ensure the Audio Controller is set to SoundBlaster 16, that Enable Audio is checked at the top of that page, and that Enable Audio Output is checked below the adapter settings. (While ArcaOS can utilize the Intel HD Audio adapter, better fidelity is generally obtained with the SoundBlaster 16 emulation. That said, there are known issues with the SoundBlaster driver, so your experience may differ.)
        0 - 6.0.14 VM setup - 10
  3. Select Network, and on the Adapter 1 tab, ensure that Enable Network Adapter is checked and click Advanced. Change the Adapter Type to one of the available Intel PRO/1000 variants listed (e.g., Intel PRO/1000 MT Desktop). Set the attachment (Attached to) as desired (see the VirtualBox documentation for more information regarding attachment types). Generally, NAT or Bridged Adapter are sufficient. Ensure that Promiscuous Mode is left at the default of Deny, or network performance will likely be negatively impacted.
    0 - 6.0.14 VM setup - 11
  4. Select USB, and then enable the USB controller. If the VirtualBox Extension Pack has been installed, you may select the USB 2.0 (EHCI) Controller option or the USB 3.0 (xHCI) Controller option. Add USB device filters as desired (see VirtualBox documentation for how to utilize USB device filters). A good starting point is to just add an empty filter (upper USB device filter button), which will match any connected device.
  5. Click OK to return to the VirtualBox Manager. It is now time to start the VM and install ArcaOS. (Reminder: No guest additions are available during the installation process. This means that in order to release the guest control of the mouse and keyboard, it is necessary to press the Host key, usually <Right-Ctrl>.)

ArcaOS Installation

  1. At the DVD boot menu, select the option to boot with menu for own values. In the preboot menu, make the following changes (note that the mouse is not available in the preboot menu; the images here use the host mouse pointer for illustration purposes, only):
    1. On the System Type page, ensure that Modern Hardware (ACPI compatible) is selected and that the option is set to enable ACPI support. Note also that GENGRADD and SMOUSE should be selected for video and mouse drivers, respectively.
      1 - preboot - 1
    2. On the Devices page, change the first storage controller to AHCI SATA (OS2AHCI). Confirm the USB host controller configuration based upon what was selected for the VM, earlier.
      1 - preboot - 2
    3. On the Network page, ensure that the Intel(R) PRO/1000 Legacy Network Driver (MultiMac-MMLEM) adapter has been selected. This should be auto-detected based upon what was selected for the VM, earlier.
      1 - preboot - 3
    4. On the Boot Options page, set the Country, Keyboard, and Codepages as desired. Leave other settings at their defaults, and press F10 to confirm changes and boot into the Installer.
  2. Once the Installer starts, proceed to the Installation type page and select either a Predefined personality or a Custom installation. Here, we’ve selected the latter. Click Next to continue to the Target volume(s) page.
    Installation type
  3. At the Target volume(s) page, the Disk Utility will run, and determine that there is no partition table on the disk. Click Fix Problems, and follow the prompts to reboot the VM. Use Host+Ins (or Host to release the keyboard and mouse, then from the VM window’s menu, Input | Keyboard > Insert Ctrl-Alt-Del) to reboot when prompted. Restart the installation exactly as before (including the settings in the preboot menu), and return to this page.Fix Problems
  4. Note the empty System Volume dropdown. Click Manage Volumes… to start the Installation Volume Manager to create a bootable volume.Create volume
  5. For the purposes of this example, we will create a single bootable volume, assign drive letter C:, name it, and use all the available space in a primary partition. When done, close the Installation Volume Manager and save your changes.Volume type Volume letter and name Volume size and partition Volume ready
  6. Leave all ancillary volumes set to Use system volume, and click Next to set the locale and timezone on the Location page. Note that if the guest additions are to be installed, you may leave Enable internet time synchronization unchecked here, as the additions will allow the guest’s clock to be set by the host. Click Next to proceed to the Software selection and Hardware pages.Locale
  7. At the Hardware page, ensure that no extraneous hardware has been selected (e.g., SCSI). Under Multimedia, select Creative SoundBlaster 16 (PnP) as the audio adapter. Click Next to proceed to the Confirmation page to review your settings. Click Next to begin the installation.
    2 - installer - 3

Leave the Reboot automatically checkbox set, and allow the installer to complete Phase 1, count down, and reboot into Phase 2. Allow Phase 2 to boot from the newly-formatted hard disk, and continue copying files. Again, leave the Reboot automatically checkbox set, and allow Phase 2 to complete and reboot into Phase 3.

Phase 3 presents the finished ArcaOS desktop. Once the process completes, configure the video resolution and/or color depth from the Screen object in the System Setup folder. Note that the ArcaOS VM must be rebooted in order to apply the new resolution and/or color depth.

Your base ArcaOS installation is now complete. For next steps, see Post-install Tips & Hints.

This entry last updated: by David Azarewicz