Have you ever want to try a different operating system but didn’t want to replace Windows? Would you like to try a new piece of software but would prefer to do it in a safe sandboxed environment? Is there software that you would like to use but the title isn’t available in Windows? How about just geeking out and going extremely experimental without fear of damaging your Windows Installation? All of this can be yours with a virtual machine. A virtual machine is basically a virtual computer that you install on your current operating system. You can install different operating systems on it. A virtual machine behaves like a separate computer and even has its own has virtual hardware. It basically fools the operating system you are installing into thinking that you are installing it on a real computer. Your physical computer is called the host and the virtual machine is the guest. An operating system that you install on a virtual machine is stored on a virtual hard drive that is actually a big file that exists on your physical hard drive or SSD.
Why Would You Install a Virtual Machine?
- To try out different operating systems.
- To run software that isn’t designed for your main operating system.
- To try different software and experiment with settings in a safe sandboxed environment.
VirtualBox is a free and simple to use virtualization application. In this post we are going to look at how to get and use VirtualBox. To help you understand better how it works we are going to install Ubuntu Linux in a virtual machine.
How to Get and Use VirtualBox
- Download VirtualBox.
- Open VirtualBox.
- Click New.
- Follow the prompts to create your new virtual machine.
- From within VirtualBox boot into the operating system you just installed.
The concept really is that simple. To illustrate how this works just follow along with what I do. You will have a better understanding of virtualization and VirtualBox. You will also have created your first virtual machine.
How to Install Ubuntu Linux on Virtualbox
Here we are going to install Ubuntu on VirtualBox and we are adding the VirtualBox Extension Pack. The Extension Pack will allow you to use physical USB devices, the host webcam, connect to remote virtual machines, and more in your guest operating system.
Give your virtual machine a name and make sure Type is set to Linux and the appropriate version is selected. Then click Next.
Allocate how much RAM you want to give the virtual machine when you run it. How much you give will be dependent on how much total RAM you have. I have 16GB so I assigned 4GB to the virtual machine. Then click Next.
Select “Create a virtual hard disk”. Then click Create.
Select VDI and click Next.
You can choose either dynamically allocated or fixed size. I recommend fixed size because the virtual machine will run faster that way. After making your selection click Next.
Select how large you want the virtual drive to be. I chose 50 GB but yours will be dependent on the amount of storage you have available. Then click Create.
With your new virtual machine selected click Start.
Click the folder icon.
Navigate to your ISO. Select it and click Open.
Make sure Ubuntu is selected and hit the Enter key.
Select your primary language and click Install Ubuntu.
Select your keyboard layout and click Continue.
Make sure Normal Installation is selected. Also make sure there are check marks by both download updates and install 3rd party software. Then click Continue.
Choose to erase disk and click Install Now.
Make sure the location selected is in your time zone and click Continue.
Enter the requested information and click Continue.
Click Restart Now.
Back at the VirtualBox main window click Settings.
If it is still set to boot off the ISO right click on it and chose to remove it. Mine wasn’t so I didn’t have to change anything. When you are done here click Ok.
Back in the Ubuntu window hit the Enter key.
Click your username.
Type in your password and hit the Enter key.
Work your way through the remaining prompts to finish setting things up.
Click the arrow in the upper right corner to open the menu.
Click Power Off/Log Out.
Click Power Off.
Click Power Off.
Download the VirtualBox Extension Pack binary file.
In VirtualBox open the File menu and click Preferences.
Go to Extensions and click the Add New button.
Select the Extension Pack and click Open.
After reading the licence agreement click I Agree.
If User Account Control pops up click Yes.
Now if you start up your Ubuntu virtual machine you will be ready to check out Linux and see what you think. Congratulations, if you followed along you just set up a virtual machine. After you are back in Ubuntu I highly recommend that you open the Devices menu at the top and click on Install Guest Additions. Just follow the prompts. Guest Additions will give you a lot more control over window size among other things. One thing to keep in mind is that a virtual machine won’t be as fast as your physical computer and will have to borrow resources such as RAM, processor power, and video memory.
Did you install Ubuntu in VirtualBox? If so how did it go? Do you already use a different virtualization application? If so I would love to hear about it down in the comments.