Setting up VirtualBox for Linux

I thought my first post should be something to help with getting starting  using some different Linux distros. It’s also free!

VirtualBoxVirtualBox is a great tool to setup multiple virtual machines with different operating systems. As I’m studying for a Linux certification it’s an easy way for me to move around between Debian and RPM systems.

After you install VirtualBox on your main computer you can use the steps that I use to setup a virtual machine.

Start creating the virtual machine

  • Click the “New” button to start the wizard and create a new virtual machine. If you name it the distro name it may automatically fill out the Type and Version for you. Click Next to continue.

VirtualBox Setup linux

  • Set around 4 – 6 gigs of memory.  Click Next.
  • Select the “Create a virtual hard disk now” option.  Click Next.
  • Select “VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image)”.  Click Next.
  • Select “Dynamically allocated”.  Click Next.
  • Set the size to about 20 gigabytes and you can also specify where to save this on your system.

Now click the “Create” button to end the wizard and you will see your new system on the left side of VirtualBox.

Complete the virtual machine setup

Now we have a few changes to make to the settings to complete the setup of the virtual machine.

Highlight the virtual machine on the left and then click the “Settings” button. On the left of the new window you will see the different sections in the settings to adjust.

  • Under General go to the “Advanced” tab and set “Shared Clipboard” to be Bidirectional. You can do the same to “Drag’nDrop” if you think you are going to use that.
  • Click System on the left and on the “Motherboard” tab set the Base Memory to at least 4096 MB which is 4 gigs. You can also uncheck the option for “Floppy” here. On the “Processor” tab set at least 2 CPUs active
  • Go to the Display settings and set “Video Memory” to around 32 MB and check the box for “Enable 3D Acceleration”.
  • On the Network settings click the blue arrow/triangle for “Advanced” to expand that section. Where it shows “Adapter Type” select: Paravirtualized Network (virtio-net).

Click the blue arrow-circle icon to refresh the MAC Address as well. Now click the OK button at the bottom to save those changes.

Get ready to load your new operating system

You are done with the setup of the virtual machine itself, now you need to load the operating system you wish to use. If you are new to Linux I’d suggest Ubuntu or Mint which are both Debian based systems. The main reason is you will find a lot of distro specific help online for these.

Once you know which distro you want to use, download the image for that online and you can use that to load into VirtualBox.

Highlight the virtual machine on the left side of VirtualBox and click Settings. Go to the Storage section. Under the “Controller: IDE” section click the CD icon that says “Empty” and you will see it’s Attributes to the right show up.

VirtualBox Linux Distro

Under “Attributes” on the right where it shows “Optical Drive” click the disk icon and select “Choose Virtual Optical Disk File”.

This will let you browse to where you downloaded the ISO file for the distribution you want to try out. Select that and click OK.

Now you can start your virtual machine so it loads your new O/S. Make sure you have that virtual machine highlighted to the left and click the green arrow “Start” icon. This is like booting up the machine.

This will start reading ISO for the distribution and then that will walk you through setting up your system.

Once this is done be sure to update/upgrade your system using it’s package manager. This will vary depending on distribution you use.

You should now have a working system but to really get the most out of it you should setup VirtualBox’s Guest Addtions. This will let you maximize the virtual machine so it’s full screen.

With your new system loaded go to the “Devices” menu item at the top and select “Insert Guest Additions CD Image”.

VirtualBox Guest Additions

In a few moments you should get prompted to allow that to “Run”.

VirtualBox Guest Addtions

This should ask you for authentication and let it install without any issues. If you do have any problems look at the error message and you may need to check the virtual box error log to see what the issue may be.   At this point Google is your new best friend!

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