Multiple Websites & Shared Folders With VirtualBox On Windows 7 Host

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Virtualbox shared folders

If you havent already set up your virtual machine, you may want to check out our guide on setting up an Ubuntu LAMP server running on VirtualBox.

This short guide will show you how to set up multiple websites to run from your development server and have the websites shared from your Windows host machine. This will allow you to work on your files and view them in your preferred browser on your host machine before uploading them to your live server.

Setting Up Available Sites

The default location for your websites on the Apache server is in /var/www/. You should create a folder for each of your websites using the Terminal like so:

sudo mkdir /var/www/newsite
sudo mkdir /var/www/newsite2
sudo mkdir /var/www/newsite3

For each website you then need to set up a virtual host configuration file. Copy the default configuration file and edit it for your new website as outlined in the Ubuntu server guide:

sudo cp /etc/apache2/sites-available/default /etc/apache2/sites-available/newsite

Edit the new file:

sudo gedit /etc/apache2/sites-available/newsite

The file should look like this:

<VirtualHost *:80>
ServerAdmin webmaster@localhost

DocumentRoot /var/www
<Directory />
Options FollowSymLinks
AllowOverride None
<Directory /var/www/>
Options Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews
AllowOverride None
Order allow,deny
allow from all

ScriptAlias /cgi-bin/ /usr/lib/cgi-bin/
<Directory <"/usr/lib/cgi-bin">
AllowOverride None
Options +ExecCGI -MultiViews +SymLinksIfOwnerMatch
Order allow,deny
Allow from all

ErrorLog /var/log/apache2/error.log

# Possible values include: debug, info, notice, warn, error, crit,
# alert, emerg.
LogLevel warn

CustomLog /var/log/apache2/access.log combined

Alias /doc/ "usr/share/doc/"
<Directory "usr/share/doc/">
Options Indexes MultiViews FollowSymLinks
AllowOverride None
Order deny,allow
Deny from all
Allow from ::1/128


You can delete this section:

<Directory />
Options FollowSymLinks
AllowOverride None

In between the ServerAdmin and DocumentRoot lines define a ServerName for your new site, also change the DocumentRoot to match the folder for the site:

ServerAdmin webmaster@localhost
ServerName newsite
DocumentRoot /var/www/newsite

Change Directory /var/www to:

<Directory /var/www/newsite>

Next if you are going to want to use an .htaccess file with your website you need to change the AllowOverride None on the Directory /var/www/newsite to:

AllowOverride All

Save and close your new configuration file. Then you need to disable the default site:

sudo a2dissite default

And enable your new website:

sudo a2ensite newsite

If you need modrewrite to be enabled enter the following (otherwise you will see server errors):

sudo a2enmod rewrite

Restart Apache to apply the new settings:

sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

Remember to create a virtual configuration file for each website you want on the server, then you can use a2ensite and a2dissite to switch between websites.

Setting Up Shared Folders From The Windows Host

Shut down your virtual machine, then in VirtualBox select your virtual machine and open up the settings. Go to the 'Shared Folders' options and create a share for each website you have on your Windows host machine. Set the path for each one and assign a unique folder name, the folder name will be the share name for that path. Once done start your virtual machine.

To link your shared folder with the Apache website folder you need to mount the folder like so, where 'newsite' is the share name and /var/www/newsite is its path on Apache:

sudo mount -t vboxsf newsite /var/www/newsite

If you load your server now on the Windows 7 host you can see your website working. Changes made while working in Windows can be seen after quick save and a refresh of your browser.

Note: You will need to mount the drive again if you shut down or restart Ubuntu.

Setting a Dev URL using the hosts file

If you set up your virtual machine to use a static IP as defined in my previous guide Ubuntu LAMP server running on VirtualBox, then you can use the windows host file to point the static IP to a short URL like http://dev/.

To do this open your windows host file in:


Add the following line at the bottom where the IP address is your static IP and 'dev' can be whatever you wish: dev

You can then open http://dev/ in your browser (and bookmark) to see your currently active website.