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How to create a virtual machine in Windows to run Linux

26 mayo, 2021

Many of us who participate in Genbeta (whether as readers, commentators or editors) know perfectly what Linux is, what to do to install it without problem and, surely, we will know how to defend ourselves with it with some solvency. Precisely for this reason, sometimes we tend to forget that there are those who do not know.

Suppose you are one of those people who has never installed Linux, for whatever reasons. You may have heard that it is difficult to use or install. Let me tell you that, in most cases, that is totally false. If you want to try Linux, but don’t dare to do a full installation, here is a solution: install it in a virtual machine. In this article we are going to show you how.

It is worth mentioning that testing the operating system in a virtual machine, for those who are not used to entering the BIOS to change the boot drive (and therefore do not even consider testing it in a live session) It is the easiest option: if you are not very clear about what you are going to modify, it is better not to touch anything.

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First steps: get the ISO image and configure the virtual machine

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First of all, before anything else, we need an ISO image of the operating system. I’ve been an Arch Linux user for quite some time, but to make things easier (and looking for a more newbie-friendly approach), in this example we are going to use Ubuntu, which can be downloaded from here.

Keep in mind that Ubuntu always offers two versions to download: one “normal” and one LTS. From distribution headquarters it is always recommended to download the LTS, since it has support for several years and does not require a change of operating system every few months.

Apart from the ISO image we also need virtualization software. In this step by step we have opted for VirtualBox, which you can download from this link. As soon as we have it, we have downloaded it, install the program and open it. This window will appear:


From here, let’s start configure virtual machine to be able to install Ubuntu. We click on “New”. We will see the following:


We change the name of the operating system to Ubuntu, so that the program does what is necessary to be able to create a bootable medium, and that later you can identify it more easily each time you open VirtualBox:


Click on “Next”. Next we will be asked to assign a minimum amount of RAM. Depending on the amount you have installed on your machine, it may be more or less, but for this example we will leave the amount that appears by default (1 GB):


We move on. Now we will have to create a virtual hard drive, which will be hosted on our machine and will serve to contain the new operating system that we will virtualize. For now, we just have to select the option that the program gives us by default and click on “Create”.

On the next screen we will have to select the hard drive type that our virtual machine will use. Again, we settle for the option that the program marks us by default (Virtual Disk Image or VDI):


In the next step we are left with the option that comes by default, in which we indicate that the size of the disk will be dynamically. This means that will increase as it fills up, although it will not be reduced if we empty it:


In the next step we will have to set hard drive location and choose the size with which it will begin to “work”. We can enter it by hand or through the icon to the right of the text input field. When we have it ready, click “Create”:


Now the virtual machine is done created and configured. After this, we only have to install the operating system:


Installing the operating system

Now, in VirtualBox, we select Ubuntu and click on “Start” to start it. Now a kind of second screen will open inside our monitor, and it is at this moment where we will have to tell the virtual machine where we have saved the ISO image. When we have located it, click on “Start”:


The machine will start the boot process and the installation process will start:


It is interesting to note that we could test the system without installing it, which is known as “starting a live session”. This is especially interesting when a test is carried out on a PC by modifying the boot drive, as we mentioned at the beginning of the article.

However, this has a downside: a live session it is not persistentIn other words, the modifications made to the system are not saved. Let’s say you install Google Chrome in such a test session. If you then close your virtual machine and reopen it, the program will not be there. Therefore, of the two available options choose “Install Ubuntu”.

On the next screen we select “Install third-party software” to be able to use Flash or play MP3 files:


On the next screen, we are left with what the installation program says. We do not need to partition anything, the “hard disk” in which we are going to place Ubuntu is empty, so we can let it “format” it as best it sees fit. Click on “Install now”:


A dialog box will appear for us to confirm the operations on the hard disk. We limit ourselves to click on “Continue”:


Then we select the time zone. As a general rule, by default it usually already specifies ours:


Now lets us configure keyboard layout. By default, Ubuntu already chooses the one that suits us best:


Then we will configure the username and password to access the operating system and perform administrative tasks:


From here, we just have to let the installation program works, until it asks us to restart the machine to access the operating system. When we do, we will get to the login screen. We enter our password and we will find the Ubuntu desktop:


And that’s it, with this we already have our Linux virtual machine perfectly integrated into our Windows installation. In this way you will be able to test and fiddle with the system as much as you want, without fear of spoiling anything or losing your files.

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