You all know that you can run virtual operating systems using vmware. VirtualBox is a free open source alternative to vmware which currently runs on 32-bit versions of Windows and Linux and supports the following guest systems: FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Linux 2.4 / 2.6, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Vista.
A good start to get accustomed to VirtualBox is to downloading the excellent user manual which walks you through installing and configuring virtual machines on your computer. You can access the manual online as well if you prefer that. Note that it has a size of over 100 pages including advanced topics at the end.The most important ones are the first chapters as they introduce the software and walk you through the installation and configuration of a virtual machine on your PC.
Just download the 10 megabyte file from the VirtualBox website or as a torrent and install the software. Installation is really easy in Windows (just a double-click) but a little bit more complicated if you are using Linux. Check the user manual for detailed instructions for Linux.
I do not want to explain a detailed instruction to setup a new guest system because the user manual explains everything in such great detail that it does not feel necessary at all.
You basically create a new virtual machine and assign a name, ram and hard drive space to it and select a source for the installation of the guest system. The source can be from hard drive or CD for instance, just make sure you have the source at hand (what is meant by that is a Windows installation DVD or a Linux CD or ISO image for example).
Update: The latest version of VirtualBox supports recently released operation systems such as Windows 7 and newer Linux distributions among others. The software is now also compatible with Mac OS X.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.