A Strange VirtualBox Quirk

A strange VirtualBox quirk appeared on the new new office desktop after I merged the old server.

My virtual machine (VM) for accessing work systems is encrypted. When I started the VM I noticed the fonts of the VM window were different from the desktop. I had never seen this before.

I also run the same VM on my laptop. No such font quirk.

I tried other VMs and they all showed a different font in the VM window.

I tried many things, including a fresh /home directory, restoring from backups before the system merger, and searching for differences in config files. Nothing.

I wondered what was different between the two computers. There was one difference. The office system auto-started one headless VM during the system boot. I inherited that VM from the retired server. With the server I rarely ran a desktop.

I disabled the auto-start on the office system and rebooted. The fonts were normal in any VM window I started.

I rebooted. I logged into the desktop, manually started the headless VM, and started a different VM. No font quirk.

I restored the auto-start but added a 120 second delay. Plenty of time to finish the boot sequence and log in. The fonts again were different in the encrypted VM window.

I tried starting the VM headless from a terminal window. Different fonts.

Apparently VirtualBox uses a default font when auto-starting VMs from outside of X. As most people run headless VMs on headless servers where X is not running, most people never would see this anomaly.

The quirk is mildly annoying but not a bug.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: General

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