Add support for VirtualBox through WebService

This change proposes to add PowerInterface and ManagementInterface of VirtualBox for testing purposes through VirtualBox WebService.

Problem description

Some developers run Windows as the operating system on their development machines. Such developers may use a linux VM running in VirtualBox as their cloud controller. There is no way for the developers to do testing of Ironic on their laptop using VMs in the same VirtualBox Windows host (with hardware-assisted virtualization) as bare metal nodes. Developers may choose to run kvm/qemu inside their VirtualBox VM but nested virtualization is really slow (as there is no hardware assistance).

Currently, Ironic has support for using a VirtualBox VM as a bare metal target and do provisioning on it. It works by connecting via SSH into the VirtualBox host and running commands using VBoxManage. This works well if you have VirtualBox installed on a Linux box. But when VirtualBox is installed on a Windows box, configuring and getting SSH to work with VBoxManage is a difficult (if not impossible) due to following reasons:

  • Windows doesn’t come with native SSH support and one needs to use some third-party software to enable SSH support on Windows.

  • Even after configuring SSH, VBoxManage doesn’t work remotely due to how Windows manages user accounts - the native Windows user account is different from the corresponding SSH user account, and VBoxManage doesn’t work properly when done with SSH user account.

  • Even after tweaking policies of VirtualBox application, the remote VBoxManage and VBoxSvc don’t sync each other properly and often results in a crash.

Proposed change

  • VirtualBox comes with a very friendly WebService to manage the VMs remotely. This works by talking to a WebService running on the VirtualBox host using SOAP.

  • A new python library named pyremotevbox will be written and will be available separately in GitHub and PyPI. Currently it is hosted in GitHub.

  • Write a new implementation of PowerInterface and ManagementInterface named VirtualBoxPower and VirtualBoxManagement which uses the new python library to manage VirtualBox VMs.

  • Create new drivers pxe_vbox, agent_vbox for deploying on Virtualbox VMs. Also create a fake_vbox driver for testing purposes with fake deploy.

  • This can also be used by users running VirtualBox on other operating systems where it is supported (other than Windows). They may also use SSHPower and SSHManagement if VirtualBox is running on linux machines. The advantage of this module over ssh ones is that, it will be faster (because ssh modules first ssh to system and then run VBoxManage command which does the same thing, so time for doing ssh is extra). The disadvantage is that VirtualBox webservice should be running all the time (which is not required for ssh ones).


Developers using Windows can continue to use nested virtualization but it is really slow. Also getting SSH to work with Windows for VBoxManage is very difficult and buggy.

Data model impact


REST API impact


RPC API impact


Driver API impact


Nova driver impact


Security impact

None. This is used only on developer’s own systems for testing purposes.

Other end user impact


Scalability impact


Performance Impact

Developers running Windows will find it very fast to deploy on VMs run with hardware-assisted virtualization rather than nested virtualization.

Other deployer impact

The following driver_info fields are required:

  • vbox_address - hostname or IP address of the VirtualBox host.

  • vbox_username - the username for the VirtualBox host.

  • vbox_password - the password for vbox_username

  • vbox_port - the port to be used by VirtualBox Web Service. The default value will be 18083.

  • vbox_vmname - the name of the VM in VirtualBox acting as bare metal.

Developer impact





Work Items

  • Add VirtualBoxPowerInterface.

  • Add VirtualBoxManagementInterface


  • Depends on pyremotevbox library which is being developed. This library will be available in GitHub and PyPI for developers to install on their laptop and will have Apache license.


Unit tests will be added.

Upgrades and Backwards Compatibility


Documentation Impact

How to use the changes with Windows VirtualBox will be documented in Ironic wiki.