iPhone / iTunes / Windows XP / VirtualBox / Ubuntu 9.10

Finally got this to work properly. The biggest trap is that when it restores / upgrades / whatever, it changes its USB ID, so don’t filter just on what it is when its working, or it will get stuck in recovery mode. DAMHIK.:

  1. Install VirtualBox from the deb package at http://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads

  2. Tell hal to keep away from monoliths: /etc/hal/fdi/policy/10-noiphone.fdi:

    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <deviceinfo version="0.2">
    <match key="info.vendor" string="Apple, Inc.">
    <merge key="info.ignore" type="bool">true</merge>
  3. Tell usbhid to keep away too: /etc/modprobe.d/usbhid.conf:

    # iPhone
    options usbhid quirks=0x05ac:0x1294:0x04
    options usbhid quirks=0x05ac:0x1281:0x04

    Then run module-assistant update and reboot or otherwise reload the usbhid module

  4. Configure VirtualBox to allow a filter for all Apple products (0x05AC) and

    leave the other fields blank

  5. Start the virtual machine, select the iPhone device, run iTunes, etc.

  6. If restoring / updating / whatever, note that every time the iPhone disconnects and reconnects or changes its ID, you’ll need to reselect the device ... so watch it while it is working and check the Devices >> USB Devices menu any time it seems to get stuck.


Backing up the iPhone using iTunes on VirtualBox is godawful slow. CPU load is pegged at 80-90% of one CPU, and it takes hours. This page: http://forums.virtualbox.org/viewtopic.php?f=7&p=107254 helpfully mentions that it works okay if run from a smaller window, and despite the ludicrousness of this idea I gave it a go … CPU load is much lower and … well, its still slow, but it is at least moving.

Yep, took about an hour to back up ~15GB of stuff on the iPhone, as opposed to the several hours it used to take to get nowhere. Weird.

Update 2

I think that slowness problem is fixed in more recent versions ... I'm now using VirtualBox 4.

Update 3

I use iTunes on Snow Leopard these days, and yes, you can make Snow Leopard run under VirtualBox if you try hard enough :-). It doesn't seem to have the same slowdown problems.