Linux Mint running in software rendering mode

I wanted to try running Linux Mint as a VM in Oracle VirtualBox. I created a new VM using the standard settings (only increasing the memory from the default of 768 MB to 2048 MB and disk size from 8 GB to 20 GB (the actual file size on my physical disk is allocated dynamically, so I’m not too worried)). I pointed it at the Mint ISO I’d downloaded and started it up. A few seconds later, I was at the desktop (running as a Live CD). Everything was looking good, except for this message towards the top-right:

Running in software rendering mode

Cinnamon is currently running without video hardware acceleration and, as a result, you may observe much higher than normal CPU usage.

There could be a problem with your drivers or some other issue. For the best experience, it is recommended that you only use this mode for troubleshooting purposes.

The message makes it sound like some sort of driver problem. Since it’s running as a LiveCD at this stage and hasn’t actually been installed yet, I thought that might be the reason, so I went ahead and installed it.

The message didn’t go away.

I spent a while trying to update drivers.

The message still didn’t go away.

The Fix

The fix is to install (the latest) Guest Additions and enable 3D acceleration:

Install (the latest) Guest Additions

  1. With the VM running, click on Devices on the VM container menu
  2. Click the option “Insert Guest Additions CD image…”
  3. When the warning box appears asking if you’re sure you want to run the software, select “Run”
  4. Enter the super user password as required
  5. A terminal window will warn you that you already appear to have a version installed and are you sure you want to continue installing this. Enter “yes”
  6. When it’s finished, press enter to close the terminal window

Enable 3D Acceleration

  1. Shutdown the VM
  2. In the main VirtualBox window, right-click on the VM and go to Settings
  3. Under the Display section, turn on “Enable 3D acceleration”

Version Details

  • Oracle VirtualBox 5.0.26
  • Host: Windows 10
  • Guest: Linux Mint 18 “Sarah” Cinnamon Edition