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I have a bootable USB drive with Ubuntu installed. I tried to boot it from VirtualBox.

lkraav's post on forums.virtualbox.org helped me to figure it out.

  1. Create a new VM
  2. Uncheck the "Boot Hard Disk" option
  3. Connect the USB disk to your iMac, and choose "ignore" if your system says "The disk you inserted was not readable by this computer".(Because iMac does not understand ext3/4 file systems.)
  4. Figure out the device name using "Disk Utility"(Under Application -> Utilities). Mine was /dev/disk1
  5. Create a vmdk file.
    ~/VirtualBox VMs$ VBoxManage internalcommands createrawvmdk -filename MyUsbUbuntu/WD80.vmdk -rawdisk /dev/disk1
    RAW host disk access VMDK file MyUsbUbuntu/WD80.vmdk created successfully.
    
  6. Add an IDE Disk
  7. Choose the vmdk file just created.
  8. Boot your virtual machine and enjoy your Ubuntu OS.

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Refer to my post here to get a better resolution.

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