A guide to installing a virtual environment for Linux. Oracle’s VirtualBox is one of the easiest virtual machine platforms for the beginner to experiment on. Within it you can install Linux, without ever having to alter your main computer’s set up. Using a VM will take resources from your computer: memory, hard drive space, processor usage and so on. So make sure you’ve got enough of each before commencing.
The first task is getting hold of VirtualBox. If you haven’t already, head over to www.virtualbox.org and click on the large Download VirtualBox 5.1 box. This will take you to the main download page. Locate the correct host for your system, Windows or Mac, the Host is the current installed operating system, and click to begin the download.
Next, while still at the VirtualBox download page, locate the VirtualBox Extension Pack link. The Extension Pack supports USB devices, as well as numerous other extras that can help make the VM environment a more accurate emulation of a ‘real’ computer.
With the correct packages downloaded, and before you install anything, you need to make sure that the computer you’re using is able to host a VM. To do this, reboot the computer and enter the BIOS as we did earlier during the Testing and Installation of Ubuntu.
As each BIOS is laid out differently it’s very difficult to assess where to look in each individual example. However, as a general rule of thumb, you’re looking for Intel Virtualisation Technology, or simply Virtualisation; it’s usually within the Advanced section of the BIOS. When you’ve located it, enable it, save the settings, exit the BIOS and reboot the computer.
With the computer back up and running, locate the downloaded main VirtualBox application and double-click to begin the installation process. When you’re ready, click Next to continue.
The default installation location of VirtualBox should satisfy most users but if you have any special location requirements, click on the Browse button and change the install folder; also make sure that all the icons in the VirtualBox feature tree are selected, i.e. none of them have a red X next to them. Click Next to move on.
This section can be left alone at the defaults, should you wish. It makes life a little easier when dealing with VMs; especially when dealing with downloaded VMs, as you may encounter in the future. Again, clicking Next will move you on to the next stage.
When installing VirtualBox your network connection will be disabled for a very brief period. This is due to VirtualBox creating a linked, virtual network connection so that any VM installed will be able to access the Internet, and your home network resources, via the computer’s already established network connection. Click Yes, then Install to begin the installation.
You’ll probably be asked by Windows to accept a security notification. Click Yes for this and you may encounter a dialogue box asking you to trust the installation from Oracle. Again, click yes and accept the installation of the VirtualBox application. When it’s complete, click Finish to start VirtualBox.
With VirtualBox up and running you can now install the VirtualBox Extension Pack. Locate the downloaded add-on and double-click. There may be a short pause while VirtualBox analyses the pack but you’ll eventually receive a message to install it; obviously click Install to begin the process, scroll down the next screen to accept the agreement and click ‘I Agree’.
You can find this guide, and many more like it, in Linux Tips, Hacks & Coding Vol.26