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How to set up a Linux virtual machine on Windows

Are you looking to virtualize a Linux distribution from the comfort of your Windows installation? Need to get some things done in Linux but don’t want to deal with installing it on actual hardware? You need a Linux virtual machine. Follow along in this guide as we go over how to set up a Linux virtual machine in Windows.

If you’re on Window 10 and looking to just use Bash, you can try the new Terminal app from Microsoft, or you can install Ubuntu.

Install VirtualBox on Windows

In this guide, we’ll be going over how to set up a Linux virtual machine in VirtualBox. The reason we’re focusing on VirtualBox, rather than any other virtualization tool is simple: VirtualBox is easy to use, free, and easy to understand for most users. However, before we get into how to use VirtualBox, it needs to be installed. Follow the step-by-step instructions below to get working with VirtualBox.

Note: You should also make sure that your PC supports virtualization and that it is enabled on Windows.

Step 1: Head over to the official VirtualBox website. Once you are on the page, you will see something that says, “VirtualBox binaries.” Under that, locate “Windows hosts,” and click on it with the mouse.

Step 2: Upon clicking on “Windows hosts” with the mouse, your browser will instantly start downloading the VirtualBox installer EXE file to your computer. Be patient and let it finish downloading.

Step 3: Once the installer EXE is done downloading, open up Windows Explorer and click on the “Downloads” folder where the EXE file is saved.

Step 4: Double-click on the VirtualBox installer EXE file in the “Downloads” folder. Selecting this file will begin installation of the app on your Windows PC.

Step 5: After double-clicking on the VirtualBox installer EXE file, a pop-up will appear on the screen. This screen says “Do you want to allow this app to make changes to your device?” Select the “Yes” button to allow it.

Step 6: Following the “User Account Control” pop-up, the installer EXE will say “Click install to begin the installation.” Do so to start setting up VirtualBox on Windows.

Step 7: On the “Custom Setup page,” check all the boxes, and click the “Next” button.

Go through the installation process, and be sure to install any network interfaces that the installer EXE asks you to install. When the process is complete, close the installer window and move on to the next section.

Downloading a Linux OS

There are a lot of Linux operating systems to use out there, and each of them works- well in the VirtualBox virtualization program. In this guide, we’ll be downloading Ubuntu, as it is the most used desktop Linux operating system, and the best for beginners to start with.

To download Ubuntu for use on VirtualBox, head over to the operating system’s official website. From there, locate the “Download” button and click on it. Then, download an edition of Ubuntu to your Windows PC.

Setting up the virtual machine in VirtualBox

Setting up the virtual machine starts by launching VirtualBox. Press Win on the keyboard, search for “VirtualBox” and launch the app. Then, when the app is open, find the blue “New” button and click it with the mouse.

After clicking the “New” button, the “Create Virtual Machine” box will pop up on the screen. In the “Create New Virtual Machine” window, find the “Name” box, and type in “Ubuntu.” It should automatically assign the type and version. Click “Next” to continue.

Following the “Name” section, you are required to set the memory size for the Ubuntu VM. Feel free to leave it at 1024 MB, or, set it to 2048 for double the speed. Once your desired memory is set, click the “Next” button to continue.

Past the memory section, you will be asked to create a hard disk. Find the option that says “Create a virtual hard disk now” and select the “Create” button.

Under “Hard disk file type,” select the “VDI” option, and click the “Next” button to continue.

On “Storage on physical hard disk,” choose the option labeled “Dynamically allocated,” and click the “Next” button.

For “file location and size,” change 10.00 GB to 20.00 GB, and click the “Create” button. DO NOT CHANGE THE FILE LOCATION!

Once the hard drive’s size is set, the setup window will close. From here, select “Ubuntu” in the virtual machine list, and select the “Start” button to launch the VM.

When the VM starts up, you will see “Select a start-up disk.” Click the folder icon next to “Empty” and browse for the Ubuntu ISO file inside of the “Downloads” folder on your Windows PC. Then, click “Start” to load up the Ubuntu ISO.

Getting Ubuntu running

Now that the Ubuntu VM is set up in VirtualBox, it’s time to get Ubuntu running. To do that, click the “Try Ubuntu” button. From there, you should be able to use Ubuntu Linux right in a VirtualBox virtual machine.

Or, if you’d like a more permanent Ubuntu setup in your VirtualBox virtual machine, click the “Install Ubuntu” button, and follow the on-screen prompts as it instructs you on how to install Ubuntu.

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