Virtualbox is for those who would like to run an alternate operating system inside Windows rather than dual-boot. Using this software allows you complete control over a virtual environment. If you have the license, you can install another copy of Windows inside Windows, or a Linux distribution, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, even OS/2 Warp!
Here is an example tutorial of how to set up Linux Mint 5 inside Virtualbox.
(All images can be clicked for full-size versions)
Above is the main Virtualbox screen. From here we click the “New” button at the top left.
Above is the New Virtual Machine Wizard. Click “Next”.
Above is the section where you give your machine a name and choose the OS type. I chose to name mine “Linux Mint 5″ and the OS Type as “unknown” (which is okay for most Linux installs). If you were installing another copy of Windows you would choose the appropriate version from the drop-down menu.
When done, click “Next”
Above is the base memory (i.e. RAM) size that will be allocated to the virtual machine when started. The default is 64MB but that is very, very slow. If you have the RAM available, choose to make the base size at least 512MB.
When done, Click “Next”
Above is where we create our virtual hard disk. Since we have never created one before, we click “New”.
Above is the New Virtual Disk Wizard.
Above is where we choose our image type.
Dynamic: The disk image will expand as space is needed.
Static: The disk image will be “at full size” when created.
I recommend choosing Dynamic to avoid wasting hard drive space. There performance difference is unnoticeable.
Above is where we choose our virtual hard disk size. The default is 2GB. For modern operating systems I suggest using at least 8GB unless you intend to run something very old like Windows 98 that would only need 2GB.
When done, click “Next”.
Above is a confirmation of the virtual hard disk settings we’re about to use. Take note of the virtual hard disk location. In Windows this is a file with a .VDI (virtual disk image) extension and is located under your user folder in directory .Virtualbox, subdirectory VDI.
When ready, click “Finish”.
Above, we have now gone back to the screen that was here before we created our virtual hard disk. It’s already selected and ready-to-use. Click “Next”.
Above is a confirmation of the virtual machine we’re about to create. Click “Finish”.
Above, we are now back at the main screen. One virtual machine is listed (the one we just created). Now it’s time to load the operating system on the virtual machine.
Before we load the OS, we’ll need to do some quick modifications.
Anything in the right pane in blue is a setting that can be clicked in Virtualbox.
First we will click on General
Above, I have changed the Video Memory Size to 64MB. The default is 8MB which while adequate makes for screen-draw time very slow.
You will notice that all available settings in this window mimic the blue links on the right pane of the main screen. So instead of clicking OK at the bottom I will click CD/DVD Drive.
Above, I want to mount a CD-ROM drive where the Linux distribution is. I can choose to directly mount the physical optical drive in my computer or use a downloaded ISO image. So I tick the option for “ISO Image File” and click the small folder icon to the right.
Above, after I click the small folder icon I am brought to the Virtual Disk Manager. From here I need to add a downloaded ISO image. So I click “Add” at the top.
Above, I have browsed my hard drive to the location of the downloaded ISO image and added it to the Virtual Disk Manager. I’m done here, so I click “Select” to exit this screen.
Above, the ISO image file is successfully selected. Now I click Audio to the left.
Above, (this is OPTIONAL) I choose to enable the Audio and use Windows DirectSound which is the best choice. Now I click USB.
On this screen I enable the USB controller just in case I want the operating system to be able to access any USB device I plug into my computer.
There’s one more setting I have to check. I click on General again then click the Advanced tab.
I actually do have a floppy drive in my computer, so I uncheck that. In addition I confirm that the machine will boot from the CD/DVD-ROM first and the hard drive second. This is to ensure that when booted I will be able to install the OS.
Now I’m officially done and ready to start the machine. I click OK.
Above, we’re back on the main screen, my machine is ready to go. I click the Start button (top left).
Above, you are first presented with an information box. This tells you that when “inside” the machine the keyboard is captured. And in order to get out of that you must press the right-side CTRL key on your keyboard.
Good information to know.
Above, another information box. It is safe to ignore this warning as the virtual machine will still operate normally. You may get weird display issues only if you’re attempting to install an older OS like OS/2 Warp.
Above, Linux Mint has booted successfully from the ISO image.
Note: You may get a few GNOME warnings. Ignore these. Just get to the desktop.
Now it’s time to install it, so I double-click the Install icon off the desktop.
Above, Mint installing. You can do other things on your computer while waiting for this to complete (it takes time).
REMEMBER: To release the keyboard and mouse to go back to Windows you must press the right-side CTRL key on your keyboard once. To get back inside the virtual session, click inside the virtual desktop again.
Above, Mint is done installing. HOWEVER, DO NOT REBOOT JUST YET. We still have the ISO image mounted and need to unmount that so the virtual machine doesn’t keep booting to the ISO over and over again.
Above, I click Devices then Unmount CD/DVD-ROM. Easy enough.
Now I can reboot. I click the “Restart Now” button in the session.
Above, this is confirmation we are not booting from the ISO image. If you see this, you’re booting direct from the virtual hard disk. Select “generic” and press Enter to boot Mint.
Above, I’ve logged in and will now configure my Linux Mint account.
Above, the Mint Updater. This confirms internet connectivity is working (you could also just use a web browser) and I’ve got lots of updates to apply.
And that’s it. You’re off to the races.
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