HOW TO:  Creating a Virtual Machine with VirtualBox

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VirtualBox by Oracle is a free and open source alternative to VMWare.  In short, you will be able to stand up and run any operating system 'inside' your current operating system.  For those who are looking for an easy to create and administer test environment, to those who want or need a separate operating system to run certain programs, VirtualBox is the simple and free answer.

The VirtualBox installer can be downloaded from VirtualBox.org.  Windows, OS X, Linux and Solaris operating systems are supported.

After download and installation, start up VirtualBox and select the 'New' menu icon to start the creation of a new virtual machine.

VirtualBox Start Screen
Now we will start to setup the virtual machine with the following screen options:

Name and Operating System
Memory Allotment
Hard Drive Size

As you can see below, I am setting up Ubuntu with the minimum recommended settings defined by VirtualBox.  These settings can be increased to your desired sizes within the confines of your physical hardware.

Name and Operating System
Memory Size
Hard Drive
Hard Drive File Type
Optional 'Hide Description' View
After you have setup the environment, it is time to startup the machine and install the operating system.  The first screen you encounter will be asking for the location of the start-up disk (OS Image).  For my Ubuntu installation, I am using a free ISO image from Ubuntu.com that is stored to a local folder.  If you are using an installation disk, this will already be mapped for you:

CD/DVD Directory
Ubuntu Image Mapped
Now that the hard part is over, press 'Start' and sit back and relax.  Your operating system will be installed just as if you had installed on a physical machine!

Ubuntu Installation
Now that you have your new virtual machine up and running, feel free to get in there and test it out.  The best part of Virtual Box is that you can erase the machine, including all of the settings and files from the main VitualBox console screen using a right-click > Remove.

Tips & Tricks
Host - Your Physical Machine

Guest - Your Virtual Machine

Clone - Used to make an exact replica of a virtual machine at it's current state.  This is useful for testing operations that may render the virtual machine in an undesirable state.

Custom System Settings - After a virtual machine is installed, you can edit some of the characteristics by clicking the virtual machine and then clicking the settings icon.  You will be able to adjust the base memory allotment, boot order, extended features, as well as processor and acceleration options among the other options available.

For more information on VirtualBox and running a virtual machine, head over to the documentation section of VirtualBox.org.

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