VirtualBox is a great program I’ve been exploring these past few weeks. The folks at Download Squad wrote a good article about VirtualBox. With it you can run your own virtual machines inside your operating system of choice. Do you want to run Windows inside Linux (or vice-versa)? Or, do you want to learn how to setup a small network inside your own computer? The possibilities are great with Virtualbox.
The program is open source, a great alternative to the free (but closed) VMWare. You can run it on Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux (for Ubuntu it is already inside Synaptic).
How does it work? With VirtualBox you create a virtual computer with all the specifications you want to set: the amount of HD space, RAM, video memory, internet connection, if it’ll have a floppy disk, CDROM, and much more. Tweak it however you want. Once this virtual machine has been created, you can install an operating system and run it like you normally would on a desktop. You’re safe to try out whatever you want, if you do something wrong don’t worry your actual computer is safe.
At the moment I’m using it inside my Ubuntu Linux to test other Linux distros, without the need to reboot. My goal is to later install Windows and be able to work with both simultaneously.
Want to learn how to set it up? It is very easy to do.
1) Create your new virtual machine: press the button “New” (note: if you’re on Linux, run Virtualbox on root)
2) Follow the simple, holding-by-the-hand wizard: choose the base OS.
(you can even install Vista!)
3) Choose how much RAM
4) Setup the HD: I always choose dynamically expanding image so it takes up just the amount of space it’ll need.
5) Tweaking your virtual machine: here you can remove or install the peripherals you know you’ll need (I always remove floppy and mount CD/DVD-ROM drive). That way you can set realistic computer specs for your trials. To get to this screen, just select the newly created machine and click on Settings.
6) Review all the details about your virtual machine
7) Done! Just click on Start. Please note that you’ll still need the original CD/DVD of the OS you’d like to run or install. Most likely it’ll run from your CD/DVD drive so insert the media before you click on Start. In this test I ran Xubuntu.
Now just have fun experimenting! To get your mouse pointer inside the virtual space just click on top of the window or press the right-Ctrl key. Hit the right-Ctrl key again to get your mouse pointer back outside your virtual machine. The OS can run a bit slower then you’d hope but that can be changed through the Settings, allocating more HD and memory.
Have you used virtualization? If so, share with us some of the cool things you can do with it.