You might have come across the word virtualization in websites or magazines related to computers. that weird sounding high-tech word might not have attracted your attention, though it is truly a beautiful concept of the computing world.
Technically, Virtualization is defined as "A method of partitioning one physical server computer into multiple virtual servers...blah..blah...blah"
Now what does that mean to you?
In simple terms,virtualization is a concept that lets you run one Operating System (OS) "inside" another Operating System.
Be it Ubuntu in Windows XP or XP in Vista or Mac in Windows 7, try whatever permutation you wish, virtualization makes it possible. Endless possibilities!
There are a number of virtualization softwares out there in the market. Vmware, Virtualbox, QEMU and so on, to name a few. Of these, Virtualbox is my choice, as it is both free and intuitive to use.
Virtualbox was developed and maintained by Sun Microsystems. In this article I will show you how to install Windows 7 in Ubuntu, but before that you should be familiar with few terms used with respect to virtualbox:
Host OS : The OS that you have currently booted into.
Guest OS : The OS that runs in virtualbox.
So if I have logged into Windows XP and run OpenSolaris through virtualbox, then XP is the host OS and Open Solaris is the guest OS.This is how it would look like:
Ok! Now I will teach you how to run Windows 7 in Ubuntu 10.10 through virtualbox.
Host OS ---> Ubuntu 10.10
Guest OS ---> Windows 7
Step 1: Obtain an iso image of your Windows 7 installation disk. Place that iso image in any location of your wish in Ubuntu.
Step 2: Run virtualbox and select "New" from the toolbar shown.
Step 3: Choose a name for the guest OS, and specify its type and version. In my case:
OS: Microsoft Windows
Version: Windows 7
Step 4: Decide on how much RAM you wish to allocate to the guest OS. I have a 2GB RAM, so I am allocating 1GB for the guest OS.
Step 5: Now you are presented with an option to choose the guest OS disk image.
In virtualbox, guest OS images are saved in .vdi format. In my case, I have not created any virtual hard disk(HD) so I check the option "Create New Hard Disk" and proceed to "Storage Type" option.
Step 6: You are now presented with an option to choose from two storage types, either "Dynamically Expanding Storage" or "Fixed Size Storage". Read the descriptions shown and choose the one that suits your system. In my case, I choose the former option.
Step 7: Specify the location to save the Virtual Hard Disk(HD) image(win7.vdi). You can also choose the size you wish to allocate to this virtual HD. I proceed with the default option(20 GB) shown on my screen and proceed to the finish page.
Step 8: After these steps, you would see the newly created virtual machine listed in virtualbox, as shown below:
Step 9: Click on the listed guest OS and select "start" from the toolbar above.
This is your first run ever since you have installed the guest OS, you will be taken through few intuitive steps to create the virtual HD image(win7.vdi in my case). This formality would be seen only in the first run and subsequent runs would boot you straight into the guest OS.
In the first run, one step you need to pay attention is the one where you select the installation media. Here, click on the icon near the "media source" drop down option.
Then, select "Add" in the Virtual Media Manager window that appears.Browse and search for the Windows 7 iso image(win7.dvi). Rest of the process is intuitive.
You will now be taken to the familiar Windows 7 installation.
The ultimate result looks like the one below, one inside another.
Note that you can switch your mouse pointer between the two Operating Systems using the right control button in your keyboard.
Virtualbox isn't just an eye candy stuff. In it, you can even copy-paste text between the host and guest OS, there is also full USB support and above all the GUI is simple.
Feel free to experiment with virtualbox. This magic box lets you accomplish all what you desire to experiment with Operating Systems.
See you next time with yet another interesting tech nugget.