Using VirtualBox 4

(last edited 03 February, 2011)


The purpose of this article is to introduce the average PC user to VirtualBox. Terminology may be simplified to make it easier to understand for the non-Geek.
This article contains 3 sections and covers installing VirtualBox Hosts and Guests under Windows and openSUSE.
VirtualBox is virtualization software that runs under most modern operating systems. What this means in layman's terms is that you set up an environment that pretends to be an actual computer, this is a "virtual machine" ( VM for short). With that virtual machine you can run another operating system in a window just like you would run another program. For instance, if you are using Windows 7 you could run Ubuntu in a window at the same time (see screenshots below for examples). To be clear, only the machine (computer) is virtual, you are actually running this other operating system.
The advantages of using virtual machines are many. For the home user these would include trying out new operating systems and the ability to run programs from different operating systems.
You can run many Windows games under Linux, or use Microsoft Office. You could try the latest Windows 7 SP beta, test new programs, tweaks, and configurations. You can try the latest Linux distros in an environment that is more realistic than a Live CD.
My favorite way to use VirtualBox is to run Windows under Linux. More specifically, I run Windows XP and 7 under openSUSE 11.3 (more on this later).
Security is also an advantage. The main operating system is separate from the one running on the virtual machine. For the most part viruses, malware, crashes, bugs, etc. are all contained inside the OS running in that VM. This of course does not relieve you of the responsibility of using safe computing habits. Lets say you download a file that contains a virus while under an Ubuntu VM and then run that file in Windows you could get infected.

Two VirtualBox terms to remember:
1 - The operating system you are currently running is called the Host OS.
2 - The operating system you run inside VirtualBox is called the Guest OS.

Downloading VirtualBox 4 And Other Important Links
VirtualBox Home Page
VirtualBox Downloads . Be sure to also download VirtualBox Guest Editions and the VirtualBox Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack available on that page. We will get to them later.
VirtualBox Documentation and User Manuals . Important! Most of your questions can be answered here.
VirtualBox Forums . A great source of information. Be sure to use the Search function before asking a question. Chances are someone has already asked it.

Downloading Or Creating an OS ISO Image
If you desire to use Linux in your new VM then download the appropriate .iso image.
Google search the distro of your choice or links can be found at DistroWatch.

If you choose to install Windows XP, Vista, or 7 you can boot from the Install CD but I highly suggest you create an ISO image of it.
This method will allow for faster install / reinstall, especially if something goes wrong.
Here is a handy guide on how to do Vista and 7 with the free program ImgBurn: How to create a Windows Vista / 7 installation disc using ImgBurn
For Windows XP I suggest using Nlite or Paul Thurrott's Guide to create a SP3 slipstreamed disc.

If you decide to use Windows XP and want to install it to a SATA drive in your VM then you might need Intel RST Driver Files -​​ F6 Install (32-​​bit).
Currently those drivers are here. If you do not have a floppy drive you can add these to Nlite (above).

Remember where you stored these files. We will be accessing them later.



Article Index
Page 1 - Introduction
Page 2 - VirtualBox Under Windows
Page 3 - Using VirtualBox 4 in openSUSE (openSUSE Host, Windows XP and Windows 7 Guests)

( Questions / Comments are open for 2 weeks in my blog. )



Software I Use


I use True Image 2011 for all my OS backups and Disk Director 11.0 for all my partitioning requirements.

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