Creating a Virtual PC with VirtualBox

January 8, 2011, By Christian Cawley

With a virtual machine setup on your computer, you can take advantage of virtualization technology to run a guest operating system. Of the several programs available to help you to do this, VirtualBox is both free and flexible, and is available for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and Solaris.

By using VirtualBox to create a virtual machine (VM) you can then install a guest operating system such as Windows, Linux or Solaris. A popular use for VirtualBox is to install a Linux distro within a Windows host OS, but it might just as easily be used to install an older version of Microsoft’s operating system. It is also just as easy to use VirtualBox to create a Linux VM.

Creating a virtual PC with VirtualBox

Getting Started with VirtualBox

To take advantage of this free application, head over to and select the suitable download for your operating system. This tutorial assumes that you are using Windows 7 as your main, “host” operating system.

Once the 75MB download has completed run the installer program and agree to the defaults. Note that you will be temporarily disconnected from your network as the software is installed.

Installation will take a few minutes and might require you to agree to the installation of a few additional components that will assist with the successful running of your VM; these are device specific and depend on various physical components on your PC, so don’t be too concerned if this doesn’t happen.

With VirtualBox installed and running (either automatically after installation or Start > All Programs > Oracle VM VirtualBox) you will be ready to setup your virtual machine…

Creating a VM with VirtualBox

To prepare a virtual machine upon which you can install your chosen guest operating system, go to New to start the New Virtual Machine Wizard. Click Next to get started, and give your VM a name; you should then select your Operating System and Version.

Depending upon your chosen OS, a “base memory” will be allocated – when you click Next you can either stick with the suggested amount or adjust the slider as per your own preference. With a suitable RAM allocation for your virtual machine set, click Next again to create your virtual hard disk, the device onto which the operating system will be installed.

Click Next to open the Create New Virtual Disk tool and choose between Dynamically expanding storage and Fixed-size storage. The first option is useful if you have limited space or don’t know how much space you might end up using; the second option is ideal for anyone planning to use an entire partition for their virtual disk.

When you click Next again, you will be given the chance to specify an upper limit for your virtual hard disk; the default value for your chosen guest operating system can be adjusted here. When you’re done, click Next and Finish to return to the main wizard, and then Finish once again to end the wizard.

Using the First Run Wizard

You have now successfully setup your virtual PC – all you need to do now is insert your operating system install disc into your CD or DVD drive, power up the virtual machine and begin installing your chosen guest operating system!

To do this, click on Start to begin the First Run Wizard. Click Next to Select Installation Media – this can be either a physical CD or DVD or an ISO mounted in a virtual device. Select the appropriate drive and confirm your disc is present.

Finally click Next one last time to begin the virtual machine and start installation of your chosen guest operating system!

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