Virtual Box (Not Virtual PC)
Virtual Box provides the same functionality as Virtual PC and is free to download from https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads. Virtual Box is provided by Oracle so it is a fairly trustworthy source.
Virtual Box basically gives you the ability to run virtual computers or a machine within a machine. You simply create a virtual machine, specify a virtual hard drive (which is basically a file on your hard drive) and then you can install any operating system you choose.
Run the installer by double clicking on the executable file that you downloaded.
The first screen is just a welcome screen.
Clicking next takes you to a screen where you can choose which parts of VirtualBox you wish to install.
Unless you are limited by space I would recommend accepting the default options and choosing next.
The third screen asks where you want the icons for Virtual Box to go. You can choose to have an icon on the desktop and/or on the quick launch bar.
The 4th screen looks a bit alarming because of the red writing but you can generally just click yes. What this screen is saying is that you may temporarily be disconnected from the internet.
Finally you are ready to install. Click Next.
Half way through the installation you may see some messages about device drivers that need to be installed. I recommend clicking the checkbox that says that you are happy to accept all drivers from Oracle.
That is it. VirtualBox should be installed.
To run it either click the quick launch icon, double click the icon on the desktop or click the start button and type virtualbox into the search box.
A screen similar to the one on the right appears.
There is a menu at the top and under that a bar with icons.
The left pane shows a list of virtual machines (Of which there should be none as you won’t have installed any yet).
The right pane gives details about selected virtual machines.
To install Ubuntu click the New icon on the toolbar.
The screen to the right appears. Type the name Ubuntu into the name box.
This automatically sets the type to Linux and version to Ubuntu.
If you were installing other versions of Linux you would obviously choose a different version. Do not worry if the particular distro you want to use does not appear, just pick the version that is closest. All this does really is predict the memory usage and disk space required on subsequent screens.
Click Next and you will be asked to choose how much memory to allocate to the virtual machine.
Based on the selection of Ubuntu on the previous screen Virtual Box has suggested using 512mb of ram. In reality I would at least double that if at all possible.
Remember not to allocate all your memory to the virtual machine as your computer will need memory for running other applications and services.
The next few screens deal with allocating space for your operating system by creating a virtual hard drive.
Select create a virtual hard drive and click create.
The next screen asks you to decide on the file type for your hard drive.
Generally I accept the default option and I won’t pretend that I have even read up on the other options because I haven’t.
The default option has always served me well.
The third screen is all about how space is allocated to the virtual machine.
You can either allocate a fixed amount or dynamically add space when it is required.
If you dynamically add space then you optimally only use space as you require it whereas setting a fixed size takes a chunk of space and preallocates it.
If you dynamically add space then every time you install software within Ubuntu it will take longer to install because space has to be first allocated to the virtual hard drive and then the installation can take place.
If you choose a fixed size then because the space is pre-allocated you will only have to wait for the time for the application to install.
If you have a large enough hard drive I would recommend choosing a fixed size and make it big enough to store an operating system and other files.
The final part of creating the virtual machine is to determine how much space to allocate to it.
The installer will have made a guess at the minimum space required to install Ubuntu.
If you can I would recommend increasing the space as 8gb isn’t all that much.
Again be careful not to allocate all your remaining disk space.
When the machine is created you will see the machine name in the left pane and on the right the details of the hardware settings for the operating system.
If you are going to install Ubuntu from a CD drive insert the CD now. If you are going to install Ubuntu from an image (ISO) then simply start the virtual machine by double clicking on it.
A warning message appears almost instantly stating that keyboard commands will be automatically captured by the virtual machine.
I would click the “Do not show this message again” checkbox and click ok.
The next screen lets you determine where the image is for installing the operating system. If you are using a CD or DVD select the drive from the drop down list.
If you are installing from an image click the folder icon and find the ISO file to install.
Click start to continue.
The virtual machine will now start booting the install media and with Ubuntu you will see a screen asking you whether you want to try Ubuntu or install it.
If you just wanted to try the live media then you probably shouldn’t have followed this article at this stage as you can just burn the ISO to a CD or USB drive and reboot your computer to use Ubuntu in live mode.
Click on install Ubuntu to continue.
The next screen may look scary to someone uninitiated with virtual machines because it says that no operating system has been found and the options are to format the disk and install Ubuntu or do something else.
Do not worry, your Windows is safe. Remember this is a virtual machine with a virtual hard disk. The virtual hard disk has nothing on it. Simply leave the default option to install Ubuntu to use the entire disk.
Ubuntu will now start copying files to the virtual drive.
Whilst this is going on you can fill in the installation options such as picking your location and the username and password to be used within Ubuntu.
When the install finishes you can reboot the virtual machine and you will be presented with the screen on the right.
That is it you have a virtual machine installed.