VirtualBox is an excellent open-source virtualization program anyone can install on their PCs to virtualize the physical hardware. It allows you to install multiple Operating Systems as a virtual machine for learning and demonstration purpose. Understanding the VirtualBox network settings is crucial to customize its settings based on your environment.
Let’s see how we can set up a VirtualBox network with host and guest computers which are part of your network.
The following types of network adapters available in VirtualBox at the moment.
- AMD PCNet PCI II – This network adapter is based on the AMD chip which can be used on most of the Windows guest OS. If you have any issues with the default network adapter settings, then you can try this type in older Windows Operating Systems such as Windows 2000.
- AMD PCNet FAST III (the default) – This is the default network adapter type for any virtual machines you create. You do not need to change the network adapter type except any special cases. This adapter supports all kind of Windows and Linux OS.
- Intel PRO/1000 MT Desktop – Works on most of the Linux and Windows Operating Systems.
- Intel PRO/1000 T Server – Same like the earlier type of adapter. If you are using old Windows client or server OS, then you can try this type.
- Intel PRO/1000 MT Server – This type is most useful when you import OVF templates from other platforms to VirtualBox platform.
- Paravirtualized Network Adapter (virtio-net) – This adapter can be used when you use a software network adapter inside the virtual machine.
Also, there are a few types of network modes available in VirtualBox. The network of a virtual machine will act according to the network mode we select in VM’s settings.
Types of Network Modes in VirtualBox
1) Not Attached
This is almost like unplugging the network cable from the physical network adapter. It is the ideal way of testing a network connection of a working VM.
2) Network Address Translation (NAT)
This is the easiest network to access the external network such as the internet from the virtual machine. By default this network mode is enabled for the new VMs we create. Though the VM can access the external Internet network it can’t communicate to host or others guest VMs and other network devices connected to the physical network.
3) NAT Network
This is similar to how NAT works on the Internet router. When the NAT Network configured for several VMs on the same host computer, they all can communicate. Also, these VMs can communicate to the external network (like earlier NAT) such as the Internet, host computer and other network devices on the physical network. But, these computers can’t access the guest VM because of NAT. It is one-way access only.
4) Bridged Adapter
This network type directly connects the VM network to host computer’s physical network. VM gets the same IP range of the physical network, it can be either LAN (wired) or wireless network and become part of the network. There will not be any network restriction by VirtualBox for this network type. Both way communication and access can happen.
After selecting the adapter type and choose the connected physical network connection from the drop-down as shown below.
Then assign an IP address for guest virtual machine manually or let it get from DHCP server like a router.
5) Internal Networking
This is an isolated network for guest virtual machines. When VMs are connected to particular Internal network, only those VMs can communicate among them. These VMs can’t communicate to host computer or outside network such as the Internet. This is the best practice to test a few VMs in an isolated network for security and protection reason.
This internal networking works with only virtual machines configured to the internal network with the same name.
6) Host-only Networking
In this mode, the VMs which are attached to the host-only network can communicate among them and host computer. This allows you to connect and communicate with certain virtual machines from the host computer. But, any other computers connected to the host’s physical network can’t communicate to guest VMs. Also, these guest VMs can’t access external network like the Internet in this scenario.
You can read more about each network types from the official website here.
I hope this guide gives the fundamental ideas of selecting the right network type for the virtual machine you create. Especially when you are going to host critical or security tools where you need to restrict the access, then you must select the proper network type for the virtual machine.