How To Use VirtualBox To Install Linux On Windows XP / Vista (Screenshots)

Mattlinux33 Comments


You must have fancied using Linux if you really know what it is at least once in your life. If you have used Linux then you might not need what I am going to write here. Today, I will be writing a short tutorial on installing Ubuntu on Windows XP or Vista using Virtualbox.

Virtualbox is a virtualization software which lets you install any operating system on an existing host operating system. In our case, we are going to install Ubuntu on Windows XP.

First of you need to download the free Virtualbox software from the official site of Virtualbox.

The setup file size is around 35MB which shouldn’t take a long time to download if you have broadband connection.

You will get lot of options about which version of the Virtualbox you should install. If you are using a 32 bit Operating System Windows XP then you should install the version -x86. You can however use the other versions as per the need and system requirements. Since I am using Windows XP so I’ll stick to the the x86 version.

After downloading the application, you can run its setup file and install Virtualbox in your computer.The installation will hardly take over a minute

After the installation you might get the following error which basically warns you that this application has not passed Windows Logo testing. You should click on “Continue Anyway” if you want to finish installation but if you think that Microsoft Windows knows best for you then you “Stop Installation” as well.

Now you are ready to use Virtualbox and install Ubuntu on your Windows operating system. Run the Virtaulbox application by double clicking on its icon on the desktop.

You will bump into something like the following screenshot when you run Virtualbox. You will need to configure it in order to run Ubuntu or any other Operating System for that matter.

You must have a Ubuntu installation CD ready or an ISO image stored on your hard disk. Just put the Ubuntu installation CD in the CD Drive and follow the steps mentioned below.

Click on the blue-colored “New” button at the top left hand side of the Virtualbox windows. After clicking the New button, a new window will open up (screenshot below) which will guide you to create a new virtual machine.

Now when you have this New Virtual Machine window open, you may press “Next” to get to the next stage in installing Ubuntu on Windows using Virtualbox.

You can write in whatever name you want to keep for the Virtual machine. If you are installing Ubuntu, then you will have to change the Operating System to Linux and Version to Ubuntu like I did in the following image. I have named my virtual machine as “Ubuntu-onWindows.”

After that you will be asked to allocate RAM to the virtual machine. The recommended base memory for Ubuntu is 256MB but I have given 729 MB so that you can even run run applications which consume too much base memory.

You also need to allocate hard disk for your Ubuntu and I have just left the settings to the recommended 8.00 GB in this case.

Now you are all set to use Ubuntu which has been configured in your VirtualBox. After this, you can just run Ubuntu after clicking on the “Start” button.

The Virtual machine should automatically detect Ubuntu installation CD in your CD drive. You will also get the following notification which informs you how to use your mouse.

After click OK, you are all set to enjoy Ubuntu on your Windows operating system. It will ask you what is your preferred language like it does when you use Ubuntu for the first time.

You can now onwards use Ubuntu as you wish. It will behave exacly like it does when you install it on a home disk.

You will get option to either install Ubuntu or try it. I would recommend you to install it, if you are going to play with it for a long time. The first-timers can try it to see the feel of Ubuntu and how’s it ‘different’ quickly.

I believe this would help you to try Ubuntu or any other Operating System using Virtualbox. The installation of Virtualbox is a no-brainer and further configuring the Operating System you need to use is not that difficult as some of you might think.

If you happen to find any problem, please leave a comment.

MattHow To Use VirtualBox To Install Linux On Windows XP / Vista (Screenshots)

33 Comments on “How To Use VirtualBox To Install Linux On Windows XP / Vista (Screenshots)”

  1. simen

    hey it worked, but when i install it. the operating system won’t save the installation, so please help me to launch my savings.

  2. crazy4ubuntu

    no sound in my ubuntu after i installed the virtual box for installing windows xp…please help..what to do ?

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  4. Dan

    I tried installing Ubuntu by mounting the ISO directly. VirtualBox boots from the ISO and I choose English, but once I make another choice (Install, ot try without installing, etc) nothing happens and the VM seems to be frozen

    I’m going to try burning an actual disc and see if it works that way. But if anyone knows what’s going on with installing from the ISO, I’d love to find out.

  5. bala

    dan even im facing the same problem even after using a ubuntu CD ……….. did u try installing ubuntu……… bcos im jus trying to use it wit out anychange on computer…….. please help……

  6. manav

    I already have ubuntu installed in a secondary harddrive. my windows is on separate harddrive. How can I make my windows virtualbox map to ubuntu harddrive instead of installing ubuntu again.
    Thanks for the advice and help

  7. po

    After following these steps I had two problems:
    Firstly, There was ‘no bootable device’ (I’m sure that CD was burnt correctly). When I decided to install .iso itself, the installer started without problems. However, after choosing the language, it displayed few lines of code and got stuck showing ‘Kernel panic – not syncing: Attempted to kill init!’. Please help.

  8. afirmo

    help me please..
    after choosing language, the screen shows this message
    ‘ this kernel requires an x86-64 CPU, but only detected an i1586 CPU. Unable to noot. Please use a kernel appropriate for your CPU’.
    I got free Cd from holland mailed to me 1 week ago. Hardy Heron 8.04
    Why this happen?????

  9. John Doe

    It would be nice if you also could include a compiz guide. Because I’m currently strugling to get it to work, I think it involves installing extra drivers.
    I already enabled 3D acceleration in the VM preferences, but that doesn’t seem to work.

  10. fimmy

    well i istalled it and it worked just fine…but now when i switch on my computer is says ” GRUB loading stage1.5. ”
    “GRUB loading, please wait…..”
    “error 22″

    please help i think my computer is dead..its been doing this for 2 days now!!!!!!!

  11. yuri

    Error ID : HostMemoryLow
    Severity : Non-Fatal Error

    What should i do about this?
    Need help ASAP!!
    Thanks in advance!!

  12. Prashant


    I have installed Sun xVM VirtualBox Version 2.1.4 on my WindowsXP SP3.
    It has installed successfully on XP. Then I installed ubuntu-8.10 using xVM VirtualBox and the installation was successful.
    On my XP, the screen resolution is 1680 X 1050 (basically the monitor is 22inch made Samsung Synmaster 226BW) and the display is of full extent.
    But when I run the Ubuntu under xVM, the screen resolution is showing unknown with two option only such as 800 X 600 (4:3) and 640 X 480 (4:3) and the screen display extent is just 1/4th times of my actual monitor screen size even I switch to full screen mode in xVM.

    Any suggestion is heartly awaited.



  13. Rob

    OK, I’ve been using VBox for some time now and the only OS i’ve not been able to get to run on it is Solaris (strange since that’s from Sun as well) and SkyOS. So lets see if I can help some of these problems. I’ve also run this on XP, Vista and Win7 without any issues.

    Firstly once you’ve created your VM you have to mount the CD/DVD. you can either mount the physical disk or, my preference, mount an ISO. You can download a piece of software called ISOrecorder or IMGBurn which should help you make the ISO. In VBox select Settings and then Click the CD line on the left, then check the Mount CD box. if using an ISO you’ll need to let VBox know about it, so click the radio button for ISO then click the folder with the green up arrow on the right. Follow the instructions to add the ISO in to VBox’ list and select it for your VM. I don’t recommend using a physical DVD/CD as that’s very slow when installing.

    Now click back on the General line and click the advanced tab on the right side. Uncheck the floppy disk from the Boot section and move the hard disk up in the Boot order.

    Save everything and boot the machine. If you’re going for an install and not Live CD select the 2nd item on the menu and follow the instructions. Mostly select the defaults. When it’s all finished you need to reboot Ubuntu as it requests. It shuts down, but before completely shutting down asks you to remove the CD from the drive. At the top of the VBox window you’ll see the menu options Machine and Devices. Click devices and Unmount the CD and press enter.

    When the system has rebooted you’ll need to install the Guest Additions. Well you don’t NEED to but I find it best to. On the Devices menu Click Install Guest Additions. On Windows type guests this works, on Linux you’ll need to do some more work. Open a Terminal (Applications menu, Accessories, choose the one without the $ on it) and type sudo. Double click on the VBOXADDITIONS icon on the Ubuntu desktop and highlight the and drag it to the terminal window. This should now show
    SUDO then a path and the filename, so press the Enter key and wait.

    When it’s all finished restart Ubuntu as requested. When it finishes restarting you’ll be able to resize the window, go to seamless mode, or full screen and your mouse and keyboard will move seamlesly between the guest and host.

    One problem is that 3D acceleration doesn’t work (at least on my hardware, it might on yours) so you can’t use 3D effect in the Linux guest.

    The above works with every version of Linux I’ve tried. If you install Mandriva you don’t need to install the guest additions as they’re installed by default.

    Hope this helps someone.

  14. Rob

    Your Low Physical memory error has occurred because you’ve either assigned too much RAM to the guest, or you don’t have that much physical RAM on your host to start with. I’ve got 2GB Physical RAM and usually assign 512MB to the guest.

    Compiz won’t work on the VM. 3D only works with Windows guests on Linux hosts.

    afirmo, you need to ensure that you’re running the correct versions of all the OS. If you downloaded and installed the 64 bit version of VBox, and have set the VM machine up as 64 bit you’ll need to install a 64 bit version of Ubuntu.

    Manav, you need to set up shared folders in VBox and have installed the guest additions. You can then mount the shared folder in your guest. The shared folder can be your other hard drive.

    Have fun folks!

  15. G

    I’ve formated my pc & installed xp 3 & am currently downloading 2 virtual drives, one for windows, the other 4 Ubuntu 8.10. Ive got a cd to install Ubuntu 8.10. I want my main drive to be Ubuntu 8.10 & Win xp to be in the virtual box- after browsing instructions in forums and the main Ubuntu page 4 2 days, im kinda baffled! Any common sense guidelines for me? Peace

  16. pepe

    thanks, it worked without any problem! [i installed ubuntu on windows Vista using virtualbox]
    BUT, when i plug in a usb-external drive is only recognized it by W.Vista but not for my Ubuntu. What should I do?

  17. sridarshan

    “tell me more about the step in which you select hard disk space,is that a physical partition you are creating or virtual??how to install an os in virtual box?”

    i meant to ask how to uninstall an os in virtual box

  18. Meloman

    Thanks. Worked great, but the process was a little different for Windows Vista (The OS I`m using).

  19. shreshtha

    I am not able to set resolution of installed ubuntu > 800×600.
    It says that host has 16bit color setting. But my windows host is running in 32bit color full HD resolution.

  20. VB_Nosound_forUbuntu

    I had the same problem with crazy4ubuntu. I tried all sound options possible. also, pulse, OSS… but no go on VirtualBox. The Ubuntu live DVD work with my sound card, just not the virtual one.

  21. Kath W

    “I tried installing Ubuntu by mounting the ISO directly. VirtualBox boots from the ISO and I choose English, but once I make another choice (Install, ot try without installing, etc) nothing happens and the VM seems to be frozen”
    I’ve had the same problem as Dan in Feb09. It states it’s booting from the first drive, but nothing happens.

  22. lu

    I have the same problem with Kath W.
    I choose the ISO directly, and the first start drive is hard drive.
    but the vbox just display “starting virtual machine…”, but nothing to do.
    I use the vista.
    So what should I do, please help…many thanks..

  23. lu

    and how to delete the .vdi files?
    I cannot delete them, my C harddisk has too small space to install anything.

  24. Narender Gill

    hi, plz give me the idea how to mount existing hard disc of my window xp in ubuto bos. Also tel how to run all lanuage processor like c and video song in ubuntu virtual box

  25. eric

    I can’t run the ubuntu iso. It just keeps blank on the screen when i start the ubuntu on the virtual box. I can’t install the ubuntu. anything wrong?

  26. eric

    I can’t install the ubuntu in virtual box. The screen just goes blank when i want to start the installation. I can’t even go to the preferred language windows. Can anyone help me?

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