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Running Linux Inside Of Windows Or Mac Using Virtualbox

20170509 This tutorial will help users that want to use or try linux from inside their windows or macOS (OSX) Operating System by using VirtualBox.

First, I want to mention that when you are using a type of Virtualization Software such as VirtualBox, the "Host" is the Operating System that your computer runs everyday when it boots up and the "Guest" is the Operating System that you will be running inside VirtualBox. So for this tutorial, Windows or macOS (OSX) will be the "Host" and Linux witll be the "Guest".

Software Needed:

VirtualBox 5.1.22-115126 For Windows This is an older version. Verison 5.2.10 is not available at this time for "Technical Reasons".
VirtualBox 5.2.10 for Mac

VirtualBox Extension Pack:
For the Windows 5.1.22 Version
For the Mac and 5.2.10 Version

Download for Linux OS (Going to use Mint18 with xfce Desktop for this tutorial):
Linux Mint18 32bit
Linux Mint18 64bit

How To

***NOTE*** These steps were created using a Macbook. Where the instructions say "Continue" your machine may say "Next" and some steps may not be exact but will be very similar if you are on a windows machine.

1. Once you have downloaded the VirtualBox file, the VirtualBox Extension, and the Linux OS, you are ready to install VirtualBox.

2. Navigate to the location on your machine where you downloaded VirtualBox (This is usually in the Downloads Folder). Double click on the VirtualBox-x.x.xx-Win.exe for Windows, or VirtualBox-x.x.xx-OSX.dmg for Mac, to start the installation process. Follow the on-screen steps to install VirtualBox.

3. Once the installation is complete, navigate to the location on your machine where you downloaded the extension pack. Double click on the "Oracle_VM_VirtualBox_Extension_Pack-x.x.xx-xxxxxx.vbox-extpack" file to start the installation of the VirtualBox Extension Pack.

4. Once the installation of these files is complete, start up VirtualBox. Once VirtualBox has started you will need to create your first virtual machine. To do this, click on the "New" button towards the top of the screen.

5. Next, VirtualBox will ask for a new and operating system of your new virtual machine. In the "Name" box call your new virtual machine "Linux Mint 18" in the "Version" box make sure to select from the drop down menu "Linux 2.6/3.x/4.x(64-bit)" or "Linux 2.6/3.x/4.x (32-bit)" depending on which version of Linux you downloaded above. Once you have selected the correct version, click "Continue".

6. Now, VirtualBox will ask for the Memory Size for your new virtual machine. This is completely dependent on you and your Host Machines Memory Size. For example, if your Host machine has 4GB of RAM, then I would recommend giving your Mint 18 Guest Machine aroudn 512MB of RAM (We will adjust this in a later step). You may have to adjust this setting to get better performance out of your virtual machine. Once you have decided the amount of Memory to give your virtual machine click the "Continue" button.

7. VirtualBox will now ask you the size and type of virtual hard drive you want to use for your gues Linux OS. For this tutorial we will create a new virtual hard drive disk with a size of 10GB (We will change the default of 8GB to 10GB in a later step). Select the "Create a virtual hard disk now" option and click the "Create" button.

Now VirtualBox will ask you what type of Hard disk file type you would like. I recommend for beginners using the VDI VirtualBox Disk Image. Select the "VDI" option and click the "Continue" button.

Next, select the "Dynamically allocated" option and click "Continue".

Finally, VirtualBox will ask one last time for a file location and size for your new virtual hard disk. Leave the name box as it is. Click in the size box and change it from "8GB" to "10GB" and click the "Create" button.

8. You should now have a new "Linux Mint 18" virtual machine listed in your VirtualBox program. Now we are going to make some initial changes to the virual Linux machines settings.

Click on the "Settings" option at the top of your VirtualBox application, it will be next to the "New" option. This is the area where you can adjust all settings and specifications for your virtual machine.

Next, click on the "System" option. This will display settings for your virtual machines virtual motherboard. In the "Base Memory: section you will see a slider and text box. In the text box change the number listed there to your desired amount of system RAM. I am going to set it to 512MB for this tutorial.

Once you have adjusted your virtual machines "Base Memory" clock on the "Display" option, it will be located next to the "System" option. Here we will adjust the "Video Memory". Next to the "Video Memory" option, I recommend setting the slider to text box from "12MB(or default size)" to "128MB". Also, check the "Enable 3D Acceleration" check box. Once these settings are made click "Ok".

9. Now we are going to start our virtual machine. Click on your Linux Mint 18 machine and then clock on the "Start" option. VirtualBox will ask you for a start up disk to start your virtual Linux machine for the first time. Click on the folder icon to browse for your Linux image that we downloaded at the start of the tutorial. Browse and select the downloaded "linuxmint-18.1-xfce-xxbit.iso" file and clock the "Open" button. Click the "Start" button to boot into Linux Mint 18 Live.

10. In this step we are going to install Linux Mint 18 to your newly created virtual hard disk that we created in step 7. Once Mint 18 has fully booted into the Live Operating System, double click on the disc icon on the Mint desktop that says "Install Linux Mint".

Select your language and click on "Continue". Check the box that ask if you want to "Install third-party software for graphics and Wif-Fi hardware, Flash, MP3, and other media". Once this box is selected click "Continue".

Linux Mint will now ask you what installation type you want. For this tutorial we are going to select the "Erase disk and install Linux Mint" option (this will install Mint to your virtual hard disk, NOT your computers actual hard disk). Once you have this selected click "Install Now". Linux will ask you if you want to "Write the changes to disk?", click "Continue". Select your Time Zone and click "Continue". Select your Keyboard layout and click "Continue". Fill out the next window with your desired information. For first time users, I DO NOT recommend selecting the "Encrypt my home folder" option. When you are ready click the "Continue" button. Mint will begin installing to your virtual hard disk. Once the install is complete Mint will ask if you want to "Continue Testing" or "Restart Now". Choose to "Restart Now". When asked to "remove installation medium and press ENTER" just simply press ENTER.

11. Mint is now installed to your virtual hard disk, and is almost ready. When the virtual machine boots back up, click the power button in the top right hand corner and choose to shutdown the virtual machine one more time. We have one more thing we need to do.

12. Once the machine has shutdown we need to install the extension pack. To do this we need to navigate to the download location of the "Oracle_VM_VirtualBox_Extension_Pack-5.1.22-115126.vbox-extpack" file on your Host machine. Double click on this file. Once VirtualBox says that the extension pack has been installed our Mint 18 virtual machine is ready for a test drive. Click on the Linux Mint 18 virtual machine and select the "Start" option.

Once Mint18 starts, you are now ready to embark on a linux adventure. If you break the linux virtual machine while trying to learn linux, simply right click on the Linux Mint 18 machine in your VirtualBox application and click the "Remove" option, then click the "Delete all files" option. This will remove the Linux virtual machine, as well as the virtual hard disk you created for the Linux virtual machine. Once this has completed you can follow the same steps to create a new virtual machine. You can also create many virtual machines for many types of OS. Since I use UNIX for many programming and networking operations, I run a Linux Host and then run a Windows OS Guest so that I can still use what few windows only applications that I may need to run. Thank you for hanging in there on this long tutorial but I hope it has helped or pointed you in the right direction!!


With over 10 years of experience in the Technology field, I have solved my fair share of technical issues and problems. 

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