Monday, February 22, 2021

Installing Pop!_OS on a Virtual Machine

Pop!_OS is a new Linux distribution that will feel very friendly for new users. Learn on this tutorial how to install and test it on a Virtual Machine

Pop!_OS's default desktop

Before switching to Linux permanently, it's recommended to test it on a virtual machine so that you can feel the experience before making permanent changes on your system. On this tutorial, we will continue revisiting the best distributions for beginners in 2021 and install Pop!_OS on VirtualBox in Windows 10.

Please note that this process should be pretty similar to accomplish in either VirtualBox or VMWare Workstation player.

Downloading Pop!_OS

Head to Pop!_OS home page, click on Download on the top-right corner an grab the ISO. For this tutorial we'll use Pop!_OS 20.04 LTS but feel free to use the non-LTS if you like. The file should be around 2.5Gb in size so go grab a coffee while it downloads.

An ISO is simply an image of the installer containing all the files needed to boot and install that distribution in your system.

Installing Pop!_OS

With the ISO downloaded, let's start the process. Open VirtualBox:

VirtualBox's main screen

Click New, enter the VM name and location to save it:

On the next screen specify the memory size (4Gb or more is recommended):

Next, let's create a Virtual Hard Disk by choosing Create a virtual hard disk now:

Choose VDI (VirtualBox's default format):

Set it to Dynamically Allocated (slower) if you don't have much disk space or Fixed Size (faster) if you do:

Specify the file location and size. We recommend reserving 20 Gb for it:

Click Review and Create and you should see a summary of your new VM:

Booting the VM

Okay, so it's now time to boot (load) our VM so we can install it in the virtual hard drive. As soon as you press Start, VirtualBox will ask you for an ISO to boot. Click on the orange folder icon > Add and specify the one you downloaded previously. Then select it and click Start again:

Confirm on the next screen and click Start. Your VM should now boot.

Installing Pop!_OS

Once the initial boot ends, you should see the following installation screen:

Choosing the Keyboard

On the next screen, choose your keyboard and click Continue:

Installation Type

Choose what do to install. For VMs, Clean Install should be good enough (don't worry, none of your files will be lost):

Select a Drive

Choose the only available drive (/dev/sda) and click Erase and Install:

Drive Encryption

If you want, you enable drive encryption. For our simple VM, let's skip that by clicking Don't Encrypt:

Finishing the Installation

Once the all the settings were satisfied, the actual installation begins. Give it 10 minutes or so:

Pop!_OS' installation screen

After finishing the install, you will be prompted to restart your VM:

First Login

With the installation done, it's time to finish the setup. Select a timezone, connect online accounts and enter your username:

Next, type your password:

And the installation should now be complete!

Default Desktop

After login, you should see Pop!_OS's desktop:

Pop!_OS's default desktop

Next Steps

There you are! Feel free to have fun with your new Pop!_OS VM! We will cover some more interesting topics in the future but we recommend that you play with it in the meanwhile.


On this tutorial we learned how to install Pop!_OS in a VirtualBox virtual machine (VM). Installing Linux on a VM is the first step you need to explore Linux in its multiple variations. The next step is obviously, replacing your Windows or Mac. But take your time!

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