How to Install Sun VirtualBox and Widows 7 in Ubuntu 9.10

For many of us, the decision to transition from Windows to Linux (or Mac to Linux) was a thoughtful, decidedly analytical process. For others — those that lean toward a more adventurous approach at new technology adoption, perhaps the decision was easier.

But one challenge that both camps share is evaluating whether or not all their software will work under the new operating system.

From my perspective, the only obstacle was being able to access and sync my iPod Touch, as Apple’s iTunes software does not run under Linux. There are several equally capable open source music library managers under Linux (I’m in the Banshee camp), but even with all the tweaks and tricks posted online, my iPod Touch remained stubbornly mute.

The Solution: Virtualization

How to Install Sun VirtualBox and Widows 7 in Ubuntu 9.10I decided not to trash my music player, and instead researched and installed what’s called virtualization software.

This software allows a single computer, called a host, to create and run virtual environments, called guests. This allows you to run multiple operating systems on a single computer without disturbing your current setup.


Virtualization Software Options

There are a number of different virtualization tools available for Linux. Two of the most popular are VMware and Sun’s VirtualBox. The most immediate difference between the two is price — VMware is $189, while VirtualBox is free. Though I haven’t tested VMware, it seems that many also consider it more difficult to configure.

VirtualBox comes in two flavors: VirtualBox Enterprise and Virtualbox Open Source Edition (OSE).

The closed source software includes binaries and source code available from Sun’s download page. This version is free only for personal use or evaluation. In order to help generate revenue, licenses and technical support for the enterprise version of the software are available for $50 per license at Sun’s Web Store.

VirtualBox-ose is available for free in the Ubuntu repositories or from Sun’s download page. It is released under GPL and the complete source code is also available. There are just a few differences between the enterprise and ose versions. This list can change, but currently includes:

  • Remote Display Protocol (RDP) Server
    • This component implements a complete RDP server on top of the virtual hardware and allows users to connect to a virtual machine remotely using any RDP compatible client.
  • USB support
    • VirtualBox implements a virtual USB controller and supports passing through USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 devices to virtual machines.
  • USB over RDP
    • This is a combination of the RDP server and USB support allowing users to make USB devices available to virtual machines running remotely.

VirtualBox Installation Options

Command Line:

sudo apt-get install virtualbox-ose

Ubuntu Repositories:

System, Preferences, Synaptic Package Manager – virtualbox-ose, click apply

Sun Website:


Installing Windows 7 in VirtualBox in 10 Easy Steps

Once you have VirtualBox installed on your system, you can install any OS inside the VM. I’m going to show you how to install Windows 7 in your VirtualBox:

Step 1: Launch Virtualbox-ose:

Applications, Accessories, Virtuabox OSE

Step 2: In the main VirtualBox window, click the New button and then click Next to start the installation wizard.

How to Install Widows 7 in VirtualBox - step2

Step 3: Enter a name for your new virtual machine, for example: Windows 7. Choose Microsoft Windows in the Operating System box, and Other Windows in the Version box. Click Next.

How to Install Widows 7 in VirtualBox - step 3

Step 4: Next enter the amount of memory you want to give to the guest OS. My laptop has 4gb of RAM, so I allocated 2gb. The idea is to leave enough for your host machine to still function properly, but to allocate enough so that Windows will run smoothly. Click next.

How to Install Widows 7 in VirtualBox - Step 4

Step 5: Now, to create a virtual hard drive for the new guest operating system, click the New button.

How to Install Widows 7 in VirtualBox - Step 5

Step 6: Make sure dynamically expanding storage is selected, then click Next.

How to Install Widows 7 in VirtualBox - Step 6

Step 7: Next, enter the size and location of your virtual hard disk and click Next.

How to Install Widows 7 in VirtualBox - Step 7

Step 8: Click Finish. Installation is complete. You’ll see the virtual machine we just created listed on the left.

Step 9: Under settings, in the CD/DVD ROM section, you can now define where the Windows 7 install CD is located. Assuming you have a CD, insert it into your CD/DVD drive and select “Host CD/Drive”, defining the drive letter.

How to Install Widows 7 in VirtualBox - Step 9

Step 10: Click OK to save and exit settings. Click start and the Windows 7 installer will launch. Now you can install Windows 7 like you normally would.


Running VirtualBox

Easy: highlight your Windows installation and click start.

Running VirtualBox

I also installed Guest Additions. It isn’t required but it will add support for seamless mode, additional display resolutions and copy/paste from guest to host. You can do the install yourself from the Device menu.

Guest Editions

One last tip: To run in fullscreen mode, press host key (usually right, control key) + f


VirtualBox: Not Just For Windows

At the risk of sparking a distro war in the comments section, I’ll still say that Ubuntu is probably one of the most recognizable Linux distributions. Many newcomers begin with Ubuntu or Linux Mint, but inevitably (like me) get the urge to try other distributions. Fedora, OpenSUSE, Gentoo, and Mandriva are other popular options.

Take the plunge, download an .iso file or burn a CD, and create a virtual machine to test out other Linux flavors.



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