How to Install Ubuntu Linux on VirtualBox

Creating a Ubuntu virtual machine is a great way to give the operating system a test run or to install software that you don’t want to have on your host machine. Installing Ubuntu on VirtualBox is a pretty simple process that we’ll show you how to do in this guide.

Install VirtualBox and Download Ubuntu

You’ll need two things to get started: VirtualBox installed on your system and a copy of the Ubuntu installation media.

1. Download the latest version of VirtualBox from Oracle’s website.

2. You’ll need to grab a Ubuntu ISO file in order to install the operating system. Head over to Ubuntu’s website and download the version of Ubuntu you want. The latest LTS (Long Term Support) version of Ubuntu Desktop is always a safe bet, if in doubt.

Create a Virtual Machine and Install Ubuntu

1. Once you’ve finished installing VirtualBox, click on that shiny “New” button to start making a virtual machine.

Click the New button to make a new virtual machine

2. Choose a name for your new virtual machine and make sure that Type is set to Linux and Version is Ubuntu. Click Next when you’re done.

Choose name for new virtual machine

3. VirtualBox will recommend that you set your VM’s memory size to 1024 MB. If you plan on running a desktop environment, you shouldn’t heed this recommendation. Increase your memory size to at least 2048 MB. Feel free to dedicate even more RAM to it if you can spare it easily. Click Next.

Choose memory size for new virtual machine

4. This is a brand new virtual machine, so click Create to create a virtual hard disk now.

5. Leave VDI selected for hard disk file type.

6. A dynamically sized disk will save you space on your hard drive, but can run a tad slower than a fixed size disk. We recommend you stick with dynamically sized.

Choose dynamically sized or fixed size hard disk

7. Choose a size for your VM’s hard drive. 10 GB is the default and will probably suffice. You can pump it up to 20 GB to be sure you’ll have plenty of storage space. Click Create and your new VM will be created with the settings you’ve chosen.

Choose hard drive size for VirtualBox

8. We can power on the new virtual machine by making sure it’s selected in the left pane and clicking Start.

Power on the virtual machine by clicking Start

9. VirtualBox knows there is not yet any operating system to boot into, so it will ask you to locate some installation media. Click on the file explorer icon.

Select start up disk prompt on VirtualBox

10. In the Optical Disk Selector menu, click on Add.

Optical Disk Selector menu in VirtualBox

11. Browse to your Ubuntu ISO file that you downloaded earlier and click Open.

Select a virtual optical disk file menu in VirtualBox

12. Highlight the Ubuntu ISO file and click Choose on the Optical Disk Selector menu.

Choose the Ubuntu ISO on Optical Disk Selector

13. Finally, click Start and your virtual machine will boot up into the Ubuntu installation.

Clicking start to boot into the Ubuntu installation

From here, installation of Ubuntu will be identical to installing it on a physical machine. Click through the installation prompts and fill out your information (choosing a new username, password, etc.) when prompted for it.

After installation completes, you’ll be able to boot into your Ubuntu virtual machine. The next thing you probably want to do is install VirtualBox Guest Additions so you can extend the functionality between the guest operating system and your host machine.

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