VirtualBox ACPI problems

After using the freely available VMware Player for a while to launch Debian images for web development,  as well as Windows images for IE browser testing, I’ve been slowly migrating everything to VirtualBox. In my experience, VirtualBox images seem to run a bit faster and when using Windows images, the OS UI seems to be more responsive. VirtualBox doesn’t come “out-of-the-box” with virtualized network interfaces bridged to your host, so you have to do some configuration to be able to SSH or connect to the virtual images (outside of using the console provided by VirutalBox).

When I created a new VirtualBox instance (guest OS is Ubuntu Karmic) with an installation of Windows XP SP2, the image would freeze for up to 30 seconds at a time (during installation as well as normal operation after rebooting into the installed OS), and I noticed VirtualBox was logging messages like this during the freezes:

TM: Giving up catch-up attempt at a 61 452 850 245 ns lag; new total: 1 121 014 977 319 ns

After some searching, it seems like my particular Windows installation’s ACPI was not working well with VBox. This forum thread (post by user kyboren) solved the issue. It’s a long thread, so I’m re-posting below:

After booting into Windows:

  • Right-click ‘My Computer’
  • Go to the hardware tab, click ‘Device Manager’
  • Expand the ‘Computer’ item
  • Select ‘ACPI Multiprocessor PC’
  • Right-click it and select ‘Update Driver’
  • Choose “Install from a list or specific location (Advanced)’
  • Choose ‘Don’t search. I will choose the driver to install.’
  • Choose ‘Standard PC’ from the list.
  • Reboot

After rebooting, Windows hardware detection will re-detect most of the virtualized hardware, simply walk through that process.

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