Running HNN in VirtualBox VM

We have created a VirtualBox VM image that allows users to run HNN using virtualization software. The virtualized machine runs Ubuntu Linux with HNN pre-installed.

You will need an additional ~20 GB of storage space on your machine to set up the VirtualBox image. Of note, any virtualization software can be used to the same effect.

Windows-only prerequisite: disable Hyper-V

For Windows operating systems, it is necessary to turn off Hyper-V for running Virtualbox. You may find that this feature is already turned off, but use the following steps to confirm. This feature is required by Docker Desktop, so if you followed instructions for that method previously, you will now need to disable it.

  1. Start typing “Turn Windows features on or off” in the search bar next to start menu and click on it to launch the control panel dialog window shown below.
  2. Make sure that the “Hyper-V” component is unchecked as shown in the image below and click “Ok”.

  3. If you disabled Hyper-V, please reboot your computer before continuing below to install docker.

Installing VirtualBox

You will first need to download VirtualBox if you do not already have the application on your machine. You can download VirtualBox by clicking here.

Downloading VirtualBox VM

You can download our Ubuntu image with HNN pre-installed by clicking here (updated 11/04/19).

Running HNN on VirtualBox

  1. Start up the virtual machine by clicking on the green ‘Start’ arrow or from the “Machine” menu -> “Start” -> “Normal Start”.
  2. Start HNN by clicking on the desktop icon “Human Neocortical Neurosolver (HNN)”.

Additional Notes:

  1. After the HNN GUI shows up, make sure that you can run simulations by clicking the ‘Run Simulation’ button. This will run a simulation with the default configuration. After it completes, graphs should be displayed in the main window.
  2. You can now proceed to run the tutorials at
  3. If you need the login information, use the following:

    • username: hnn_user
    • password: hnn

Updating HNN

Improvements to HNN with updated releases can be found on our GitHub page. These changes may need to be incorporated into to the VM by running the command git pull origin master from the /home/hnn_user/hnn_source_code directory in a terminal window.


If you run into other issues with the installation, please open an issue on our GitHub. Our team monitors these issues and will be able to suggest possible fixes.

For other HNN software issues, please visit the HNN bulletin board