In my last article (Installing and configuring VirtualBox for virtual OSes) I walked you through the installation of the VirtualBox virtual machine tool. In this article I am going to show you how to actually install an operating system with this tool. You will be surprised at not only how simple the installation is, but how much better hardware detection is. In fact, as you will witness in the sample installation we will do, no hardware drivers are necessary. Believe it or not, Windows XP will work right out of the box.
Now I am using the open source version of VirtualBox so no USB support is included. Outside of that - everything should work exactly as expected.
Before you actually read this article make sure you have read through the first article and have VirtualBox installed.Once installed you can fire up VirtualBox and you will see a window similar to that in Figure 1. The only difference being that in my example there is already a virtual machine installed. And even though the currently installed VM is Windows XP, we can still install another XP instance. You can have as many instances of a single OS as you want so long as you have the room for it.
With that said, let's begin the process.
The first thing to do is to click the New button which will start up the Wizard. This wizard, just like the setup wizard shown in the original article, is very user-friendly and makes for installing a virtual machine a breeze.
The first screen is just a welcome screen - click the Next button to move on to the first real interactive screen.
The first screen (shown in Figure 2) will require you to give the VM a name and select the operating system. Since I already have a VM called Windows XP I will name this new version something different.
After you have configured the name and the OS type click the Next button to move on.
The next screen requires you to select the amount of memory you want to dedicate to your Virtual Machine. Use caution with this setting. You have to still have enough memory left for your host operating system to run. By default VirtualBox will offer you the minimum required to run the virtual machine. This is fine if you don't plan on doing much with the VM. If, however, you plan on running particular applications that are memory intensive, you should bump up the virtual memory a bit.
This next screen was explained in detail in the original article - refer back to that for details. Once you have finished that section, you are ready to finalize your virtual machine and begin installation. Click Finish and you're ready.
Powering it on
Now put your OS cd into the CD drive, select the virtual machine you want to use, and click the Start button. The first thing you will see is an information box instructing you how to capture and rekease your cursor. This is important to know, otherwise you will find yourself not being able to use your mouse outside of VirtualBox. To capture the cursor in VirtualBox you just click the mouse inside of the machine window. To release the cursor you hit the Ctrl key on the right side of your keyboard. That's it. Click through that warning and you're ready to rock.
What happens now is pretty much a standard installation of Windows. This will generally take about the same amount of time a normal installation will take. When you are finished you will have a working install of Windows XP (as shown in Figure 3).
You will notice XP is inside of a window. Within that window is a menu with three choices. One of those menus you will use quite often is the Machine menu. Of course you can not get to it if the virtual machine has captured your cursor. If you are working within your VM, and you want to get to that menu, click the right Ctrl key and your cursor is released.
From the Machine menu you can do a number of things such as:
Instead of going through the standard process of shutting down Windows XP the easiest method of shutdown is to first Pause the virtual machine and then Close the virtual machine. When you pause the VM the screen will turn gray (see Figure 4) and you can then close that machine.
When you click Close you will see another window asking if you want to just close the machine or if you want to save the machine state before you close it. If you haven't saved the machine recently go ahead and select save machine state.
Now when you start that Virtual Machine back up it will start up in the same state it was when you closed it. Imagine starting up Windows XP in less than 5 seconds! That is what you will experience when starting a virtual machine from a saved state.
When all of your machines are closed you can then exit VirtualBox from the File menu of the main window.
I hope your experience with VirtualBox is as good as mine. I have used a number of virtual machine software - from costly proprietary to free open source and I have to say that VirtualBox is one of the best.
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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.