VirtualBox by Sun maybe is the most successfull software about free solutions of operating systems virtualization.
Virtualization is a term that refers to creation a virtual version of a resource normally phisically available, in this case operating system (hardware too is virtualized).
VirtualBox do this job, create one (or more) virtual machine (VM) where you can install own favourite operating system(s).
The advantages are various and clear, for example you can choose what and how many os use, you can use it as a “sandbox” so you can install everything without touching real operating system installed, and if there are problems, you can do an easy and fast rollback.
Now lets see in simple steps with example images too how to start with our virtual os from begin. It’s used the latest VirtualBox version, 3.1.6 in a Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit system and the virtual installed os will be a copy of Windows XP SP3 Pro 32 bit.
From download page download “VirtualBox 3.1.6 for Windows hosts” (it’s both for 32 and 64 bit).
Start setup and install all what is prompted, at the end start VirtualBox (pic1)
Click on Nuova button and a wizard will show and will guide you about the process to create the virtual machine.
At first step you must assign a name to your virtual machine and select the os you want to virtualize (pic2)
As second step you must assign the memory available to use in virtual machine (be careful that real physic RAM of own system will be used) (pic3)
As third and last step you must create a new virtual hard drive to boot (or you can specify an existing one if you already have) (pic4)
A new wizard about virtual hard drive will be started and here you can specify if you want a dynamic hard drive or not(pic5)
What the difference between the 2?
With the first option (that i suggest) you can create a virtual hard disk of tot. gigs (eg. 10Gb) but it will fill jsut the real space used and needed by os, installed apps, stored data and it will increase dynamically with new data and programs added until reach the specific limit.
Next (pic6) we define hard disk size and path (the file image has *.vdi extension) .
After a summary of the wizard (pic7) by clicking the button Fine the virtual machine will be created (pic8)
Basically we have a left side panel with created virtual machines listed and what you can do with them (New VM, Setup virtual machine (pic9), Start).
In the left side panel we have the details of selected virtual machine, Snapshot tab where you can create a snapshot of the actual state of VM, a tab for Description.
If we see in the file image path we notice that the size is small because we have just created a new virtual machine (nothing has been already installed) and the virtual hard drive is dynamic (pic10)
In the second part of the guide we will see the installation of the os and running! I will also cover the features of Snapshot, VirtualBox additions and common jobs like adding a new virtual hard drive.
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