Virtualization with Oracle's VirtualboxAt some point almost everyone decides they want to try something new. Maybe you've decided you want to try a Linux distribution, or a new version of your present operating system, but you don't want to chance loosing your present operating system if you don't like the new one or something goes wrong. You can create a dual-boot system. If you are using Mac OSX or Linux, it's pretty easy, but it requires shutting down one operating system to start another. That will work, but it's not elegant. If you're using Windows it is a little harder. Consider virtualization as another alternative.In computing, virtualization refers to creating a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, including virtual hardware platforms, operating systems, and n
etwork resources. By virtualizing your system you can easily test that Linux distribution or new version of your operating system without removing your current operating system. The virtualized machine “runs on top of” your old system, disturbing nothing. If you don't like the new virtualized machine, or something goes wrong, just remove it .The benefits of virtualization include:
- Run multiple operating systems on one physical machine
- Provide fault and security isolation at the hardware level
- Save the entire state of a virtual machine to a backup file
- Move or copy virtual machines between systems as easily as moving and copying files
VMWare, Oracle's Virtualbox, KVM, Hyper-V, and Xen are common hypervisors, A hypervisor
or virtual machine monitor (VMM)
is a piece of computer software, firmware or hardware that creates and runs virtual machines These technologies are for the most part free or open source for personal use. I've used VMWare Workstation on Mac, Hyper-V on Windows
, KVM on Linux, and Oracle's Virtualbox on Mac, Windows, and Linux to virtualize multiple workstations and servers over the years. My personal preference for home/personal workstation virtualization is Oracle's Virtualbox as I feel it is more oriented in that direction.Virtualbox was developed by Sun Microsystems and first released in 2007. I've used Virtualbox since its first release for personal use. VirtualBox can be installed on most popular operating systems as the host OS, including: L
inux, OSX, Windows, Solaris, and Open Solaris. It also has been ported to FreeBSD. I find Virtualbox easy to install and easy to use, has a straight forward interface to creating, configuring, and removing virtual machines, (guests), and is very stable in use.To create a Virtualbox virtual machine go to www.virtualbox.org
and download the version for your current operating system. (Although you can use a 32-bit version of Virtualbox on a 64-bit system, you cannot use a 64-bit version on a 32-bit system, so be aware of the version you download.). This will also impact your ability to install guests as again, you can run 32-bit on 64-bit Virtualbox, but not the the other way around.Once downloaded run the installer. You can accept the defaults during the install, however,. during setup on Windows, you'll be asked to install "device software" or "drivers"—hit "Install" for each, or check the box that indicates you'll "Always trust ..." When the installer completes you will be presented with the Virtualbox default screen, it will be empty of virtual machineTo create a virtual machine with Virtualbox1.)Click on the "New" button at the top of the VirtualBox Manager window. A wizard will pop up to guide you through setting up a new virtual machine.2.)Follow the wizard to create the virtual machine by filling in:a. The VM name
which will later be shown in the VM list of the VirtualBox Manager window, and it will be used for the VM's files on disk. The VM name should be descriptive such as Windows XP SP2 or Windows 7 as if you create multiple VMs it will be easier to distinguish between them.b. For "Operating System Type",
select the operating system that you want to install later. If you want to install something unusual that is not listed, select "Other". Depending on your selection, VirtualBox will enable or disable certain VM settings that your guest operating system may require so it is therefore recommended to always set it to the correct value.c. Select the memory (RAM)
that VirtualBox should allocate every time the virtual machine is started. NOTE: The amount of memory given to the VM will be taken away from your host machine and presented to the guest operating system each time the guest is run. It is suggested not to give the VM more than half of your system RAM. d. Next, you must specify a virtual hard disk
for your VM. Here you have the following options: I.) To create a new, empty virtual hard disk, press the "New"
button. II.)You can also pick an existing
disk image file. The drop-down list
presented in the window contains all disk images which are currently remembered by VirtualBox because they are currently attached to a virtual machine (or have been in the past). Alternatively, you can click on the small folder button
next to the drop-down list to bring up a standard file dialog, which allows you to pick any disk image file on your host disk. If you are using VirtualBox for the first time, you will want to create a new disk image so press the "New" button.This brings up another window, the "Create New Virtual Disk Wizard",
which helps you create a new disk image file. This image will be stored in the new virtual machine's folder.Iii.)VirtualBox supports two types of image files: A dynamically allocated file
which will only grow in size when the guest actually stores data on its virtual hard disk. A fixed-size file
will immediately occupy the file specified, even if only a fraction of the virtual hard disk space is actually in use. You can also import an existing
disk image file.The drop-down list
presented in the window contains all disk images which are currently remembered by VirtualBox.Alternatively, you can click on the small folder button
next to the drop-down list to bring up a standard file dialog, where you can pick a downloaded image such as one from Turnkey Linux, http://www.turnkeylinux.org/
, which has over 100 ready to use Vms.e.)After having selected or created your disk image file, press "Next"
to go to the next page and click “Finish”. Your new virtual machine will now appear in the list on the left side of the Manager window, with the name you entered initially.Unless you used a VM image such as from Turnkey Linux your new Virtual Machine is created empty so it behaves like a new computer without any operating system. To install an operating system on the new VM click on the VM in the list on the left, another wizard -- the "First Start Wizard" will pop unto help you select an installation medium.1.) If you have physical CD or DVD media from which you want to install your guest operating system (e.g. in the case of a Windows installation CD or DVD), put the media into your host's CD or DVD drive.2.) If you have downloaded installation media from the Internet in the form of an ISO image file select the small folder icon next to the drop-down list to bring up a standard file dialog, and navigate to the download's location with which you can pick the image file on your host disks. VirtualBox will then run this file as a CD or DVD-ROM drive.
>3.) Click the “Start” button to install the VM's operating system.4.) Follow the prompts to install the new OS.