Virtualbox Walkthrough: Ubuntu 10.04

22 Jul

This walkthrough takes you through creating a virtual machine on Virtualbox and installing Ubuntu 10.04 on it. This is a fairly thorough walkthrough, but by no means complete. When in doubt, consult the manual. It is assumed that you know the details of how to install Virtualbox, and Ubuntu as well. While neither of these are very difficult, both procedures exceed the scope of this text.

The host machine and OS is a Thinkpad T410 and Windows 7 64bit, respectively. The T410 (lovingly dubbed “Athena”) has an Intel Core i5-520M processor running at 2.40Ghz, integrated graphics and 4GB of RAM. However, these instructions should work on any machine capable of running Ubuntu and its host OS simultaneously. The version of Virtualbox used was the latest at the time–3.2.6.

When you open Virtualbox, you should see something like this:

From the default window, press the “New” button and the virtual machine wizard will load. The first window asks you to name your new virtual machine and which OS you will install on it.

N.B. You will see the “64 bit” option in OS type for Ubuntu. Use that ONLY if you are running a 32 bit host and you wish to emulate 64 bit:

If you want to use 64-bit guest support on a 32-bit host operating system, you must also select a 64-bit operating system for the particular VM. Since supporting 64 bits on 32-bit hosts incurs additional overhead, VirtualBox only enables this support upon explicit request.

On 64-bit hosts, 64-bit guest support is always enabled, so you can simply install a 64-bit operating system in the guest. (Source)

Clicking “Next” brings you to a slider that allows you to set how much RAM you wish to allot to your VM–how much RAM the emulated system will see. Don’t go past the green section or you risk freezing your host. I put 1.5GB, as Ubuntu runs fine with that much.

Next is configuring the virtual hard drive.

If you haven’t already created a hard disk, the wizard will walk you through that too. The virtual disk wizard has preset options that work fine. If you’re curious as what the differences between options are and don’t understand the brief description provide in the wizard, go read the manual.

Once you have configured your virtual disk, you should be led to this summary:

After hitting finish, you should see your new VM on the left. Select it and click “Start”.

When a VM in virtual box runs for the first time, the first run wizard pops up and asks you to load installation media. I’ve chosen an ISO image of Ubuntu 10.04 64bit. You can either use an ISO (easily downloadable from the ubuntu homepage), or a physical Ubuntu CD or DVD.

Ubuntu ISO booting:

Note: there are various alerts that will pop up that you should read at least once.

Now that the ISO is finished booting, you will be given the option to either try or install Ubuntu. You should know where to go from here.

Treat the virtual hard drive that Ubuntu detects normally. Partition however you are used to.

Installation takes a while. Go grab food or something.

Once the installation is complete, restart as prompted and you will boot into your new virtual Ubuntu installation!

Notice the low resolution. This is an indicator that Ubuntu doesn’t realize that it’s being run in a virtual environment. In order to fix this, Virtualbox has a patch called Guest Additions. But before that, update the system.

The first update generally takes the longest (unless you have an uber-fast connection). I got through a chapter of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and half a podcast of a college lecture before the system was fully updated. Ubuntu will probably ask for a restart so that it can load the updated kernel. Do so.

Once the desktop comes back up, go to Devices > Install Guest Additions. That will load an ISO into the VM’s CD drive. Ubuntu will detect it automagically and will want to auto-run it. I ignored that and opened a terminal and did the following:

This will install Guest Additions in Ubuntu.

After that’s done, it will ask to restart yet again. After boot you should notice a refreshingly better resolution:

Since it’s a virtual machine, I turned off the screensaver and power options, and enabled auto login.

Lastly, for whatever reason, Virtualbox crashes when desktop effects are enabled. This also occurs when I attempt to shutdown/restart/logout/etc with desktop effects enabled. So beware of that. YMMV. Cheers.


Andrew Huang is a turnip.

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