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Using Ubuntu on VirtualBox in Windows XP

April 29th, 2009


What is Ubuntu?
Ubuntu is a community developed, Linux-based operating system that is perfect for laptops, desktops and servers.

What is VirtualBox?
VirtualBox is a software by Sun Microsystems that allows you to use multiple operating systems (guests) on another operating system (host).
VirtualBox runs on Windows, Linux, Macintosh and OpenSolaris hosts and supports a large number of guest operating systems including but not limited to Windows (NT 4.0, 2000, XP, Server 2003, Vista), DOS/Windows 3.x, Linux (2.4 and 2.6), Solaris and OpenSolaris, and OpenBSD.

Why Ubuntu on VirtualBox in Windows XP?
I have always wanted to try out Ubuntu as it is a popular operating system now, having tagline as “Linux for Human Beings”. Linux is not as “scary” for non-techie nowadays and having OS like Ubuntu with such taglines definitely helps a lot.

I would like to try out Ubuntu, but am not ready to install Ubuntu as the main or host operating system in my computer.

I tried VMWare before and would like to try out Sun’s VirtualBox which I found there are a number of positive comments about it.

And the best reason : Ubuntu is free, Windows is costly. 🙂

So using Ubuntu on VirtualBox in my Windows XP system will enable me (or you), to try out Ubuntu and maybe prepare oneself to use it in the future?

Anyway, here’s the experience:
* Click on the images to view in original size.

Download VirtualBox and select the Operating System (host) you’re using.

Download the Ubuntu operating system. It is a CD image file (iso). You can choose to keep it in your disk or burn it into a CD for portability.

Installation of the VirtualBox is pretty straightforward. Just run the installer and follow through the steps:






There are a few alerts such as it will disconnect your network connection and also that the software has not passed Windows testing (as usual). Just continue with it until the end.

Running it
In my opinion, VirtualBox has interface similar to VMWare, so VMWare users should be familiar with this software.

VirtualBox does not come with any guests operating system, so what we need to do is to use the Ubuntu CD image downloaded and get VirtualBox to run it.

Let’s start by creating a new Virtual Machine, by clicking on the New button:


Select Ubuntu as the guest operating system:


Allocate at least the minimum memory requirement specified.


Create a harddisk for Ubuntu. Select “Create New Hard Disk” if you do not have an existing one. The hard disk here actually meant it’s a file which will be used as a logical disk (not really hard disk) for Ubuntu.


Now you have Ubuntu as an operating system.


Power up Ubuntu!
Well it doesn’t just work like that.
We have to get it to load the Ubuntu CD image before it is able to run.


So we will need to select “Mount CD/DVD ROM image” and then choose the file we have downloaded previously.


Ubuntu will load and prompt you with a few options.
Since we’re not installing Ubuntu, let’s just try Ubuntu without any change to your computer. 😉


This is the desktop of Ubuntu.


The File Browser, very much like your usual Windows Explorer.


It has Firefox 3 pre-installed.


There’s also this instant messaging software, Pidgin that is actually instant messengers with the ‘s’. You can add whatever IM accounts you have. From my test, the speed of the login and messaging is very good. 🙂


The Applications under Accessories:


The Applications under Games:


The Applications under Graphics:


The Applications under Internet:


The Applications under Office or your office applications:


The Applications under Sound and Video:


You can also check out what’s pre-loaded in Ubuntu and select additional software from the Add/Remove application menu. From the list of applications available, you are definitely spoilt for choice!


OpenOffice is pre-installed. You can save it in Windows Word format, or OpenOffice format. Nowadays, you do not have to worry about file format too much. Hey, if you do not like OpenOffice, there’s always Google Docs. 😀


I changed the desktop background with one selected from HongKiat’s 60 Beautiful Ubuntu Desktop Wallpapers


The verdict:
This is a great way to try Ubuntu without much effort or worry about it messing your computer.
The only drawback is when I tried running multiple applications at once, it hangs. This could probably due to the small memory allocation I used.
I’m not able to run it full-screen. Although when I selected fullscreen, the Ubuntu desktop is still 800×600 with black background filling the sides. Maybe I’m doing this wrong, but I’m not able to find the workaround for this, yet.
I just might be using Ubuntu if I’m getting a new computer system or laptop. 🙂

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Review, Software, Technology

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    1. April 29th, 2009 at 08:34 | #1

      Thanks for the tips. I wanted to try Ubuntu for quite a while. Perhaps this could make my mini virtual “dream” come true. Ha ;D

    2. April 30th, 2009 at 07:46 | #2

      Me too, and finally I took the time to try out VirtualBox and Ubuntu. The time taken to download the files is actually longer than the Ubuntu run. 🙂

    3. brandon
      April 30th, 2009 at 14:27 | #3

      if u can wait for 2-3 weeks, u can request for a free CD from them
      u may even get free sticker ‘Ubuntu – linux for human beings’ :p

      10 reasons that you will want to install ubuntu 9.04

    4. May 4th, 2009 at 09:22 | #4

      did they really mention about free stickers? Hehe..

    5. brandon
      May 4th, 2009 at 13:40 | #5

      not sure if they will include the stickers in this new release but so far, i have been receiving it together with the free cd for the previous release

    6. May 4th, 2009 at 23:13 | #6

      remind me for the free sticker!!!

    7. xxx
      May 13th, 2009 at 02:03 | #7

      don’t waste ur time.install in a dedicaTED partition

    8. Rodrigo
      December 19th, 2009 at 05:45 | #8

      Dentro do Sun virtual box voce pode instalar o guest additions,ele permite que se troque de tela do windows para o ubuntu sem ter que apertar o ctrl da direita para retirar o mouse do ubuntu,voce consegue transitar livremente entre as duas telas.

      quanto ao full screen, comigo funciona apertando ctrl direito+f.

    1. April 30th, 2009 at 05:14 | #1
    2. October 20th, 2009 at 03:03 | #2