How to Restore WiFi Connectivity After a VirtualBox Instance of Linux Stole It

Kali, Puppy and Bodhi Linux are all popular for Internet browsing while inside of VirtualBox, and you’ll probably try out many others if you enjoy using an emulated test environment or develop Web code and prefer to run it inside of a sandbox. However, many common chipset wireless adapters won’t work properly when running Linux inside of an emulated virtual machine. This is due to a major configuration shortfall. You might also have the same problem with your instance of Linux operating as the host system and some other piece of system software running inside of an emulator. Some users even complain this is the case when working with other emulation software.

Make sure that you’ve run a standard check for updates. If there are any driver issues, then you’ll need to iron them out before proceeding. Assuming that you’re already running the latest drivers for your hardware, then you need to head back to the VirtualBox window. Before proceeding, if you’re on a system that uses apt-get as its package manager, then you might want to make sure that you have all the repositories on and then run sudo apt-get update; sudo apt-get upgrade from the CLI terminal prompt. Unfortunately, some wireless adapters require the use of proprietary drivers, as much as this might be to the chagrin of some proponents of open-source code. As counterintuitive as it may seem, you will need to have networking capabilities to continue.

Method 1: Changing VirtualBox Settings to Restore WiFi

Assuming that you were unable to correct the problem through driver updates and presuming that you’re only having the Internet connectivity problem after you’re finished with a VirtualBox session, then reboot the system and once more open up VirtualBox before proceeding. Select VBox Settings and then click or tap VM Settings. In the dialog box that comes up, check whether the “Bridged Connection Setup” box has a mark in it. If it does, then try to disable it. Bridged connections generally disable the network for the host system.

Keep in mind that you may experience this problem when running a few related operating systems with a GNU/Linux session as the host. If you’ve found that VirtualBox steals away your connection when working with a graphical environment inside of FreeBSD or NetBSD inside of a session, then you will certainly want to check if “Bridged Connection Setup” is switched to the on or off setting. Other Unix-based system software packages like OS X are also susceptible. A few users have noted that this configuration option seemingly turned itself on, so it’s worth checking out even if you never remember setting it up that way. At least one user also cited this as the cause of Internet connection loss when running an emulated Ubuntu session under Windows 10.

Look in your status area in your taskbar or dash to see if these actions restored wireless connectivity. If you’re used to doing this check under normal circumstances, then follow the same procedure.

You should see an icon next to the clock that indicates that it has. What this looks like depends on the graphical environment you’re using, but you can click on it to see which modem you’re connected to. Please keep in mind that while working with legacy system software packages, you may not be working with modern security updates. While any networking attacks should be confined to the emulated system, connected directories are also possible targets. Once you have WiFi back, make sure that any shared directories are pointing only to a specific single directory within your home user-land and not attached to your / file structure. This is especially important if you’re running VirtualBox or some other emulator as root, because there would be nothing stopping malevolent opcode from tampering with your entire installation in that situation.

Method 2: Using nmcli to Switch WiFi Back On

If this doesn’t seem to repair the connection, then the “Bridged Connection Setup” function may have inadvertently disabled your connection when closing your VirtualBox session. This is debatably a security feature, and it might actually also happen if you’re emulating System 7 or Mac OS 9 in something like Mini V Mac, SheepShaver or Basilik II. Emulators of certain types of PowerPC architecture releases of Linux or OpenDarwin will exhibit this same problem, if you’re running them on standard x86 or x86-64 hardware. In any of these cases, you merely need to open up a terminal back in your host system by holding down ALT, CTRL and T at the same time or accessing it from the Dash or Whisker menu.

Once at the CLI prompt, try running the command nmcli nm wifi off in order to switch all wireless communications off even if you’re using a multiple WiFi antenna configuration. If you receive an error regarding permissions, then run it with sudo in front of it, but try it initially as a regular user. You can then try nmcli nm wifi on to switch your connection back on again, though once more it may prompt you to use sudo, which you should only use if you need to. After trying this command a second time, if you still don’t have connectivity, then you should after a single restart. Running nmcli nm wifi off without running the on command a second time puts your computer into so-called “Airplane Mode,” which purposefully robs you of wireless connectivity.

If you find that you don’t have networking inside of SheepShaver, then keep in mind that you need to download the sheep_net.ko file from the forum, place it in your home directory and then run sudo modprobe sheep_net.ko followed by sudo chown “your username” /dev/sheep_net  to get networking to work inside of classic Mac OS when running on a GNU/Linux environment. Keep in mind, of course, that these older software builds seldom support WiFi the way we understand it, which means you’re probably restricted to using an Ethernet connection.


Kevin Arrows

Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.
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