Thursday, February 11, 2021

Installing Ubuntu on a Virtual Machine

Ubuntu remains on of the best Linux distributions for new users. Learn on this tutorial how to install it on a Virtual Machine and test it to learn more about it
A brand new Ubuntu 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 Ubuntu on VirtualBox in Windows 10.

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

Downloading Ubuntu

Head to Ubuntu Desktop download page an grab the ISO. For this tutorial we'll use Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. The file should be around 2.5 Gb in size so go grab a coffee while it downloads.

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

Installing Ubuntu

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

VirtualBox's main screen

Click New, enter the name of the VM and select its save location:

Choose the memory size (4Gb or more is recommended):

Create a Virtual Hard Disk:

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:

Review and Create:

After clicking Create, 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. On the screen above click on Start to have your VM initialized. We'll first need to attach our ISO as if it were a virtual CD-ROM. Click Add and select your downloaded ISO from your Downloads folder and click Create to set it:

Confirm on the next screen and click Start:

Your VM should now be booting:

Installing Ubuntu

Once the initial boot ends, you should see the following Ubuntu installation screen providing you two options:

  • Install Ubuntu - install Ubuntu in your virtual hard drive
  • Try Ubuntu - to run Ubuntu in memory without installing it

Choose your language and click Install Ubuntu to proceed with the installation.

Choosing the Keyboard

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

Apps and Updates

Next, specify what kind of installation you want and how to update the system. For our VM, we're good with Normal installation:

Installation Type

Choose the default installation type. For VMs, Erase disk and install Ubuntu should be good enough. (don't worry, none of your files will be deleted):

Set Time Zone

Click Install Now > Confirm the changes and select your time zone:

Setting Host, User and Password information

On the next screen enter your name, username (how you will login as), password and host (how your machine is identified):

Finishing the Installation

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

First Login

With the installation done, let's login the first time. Enter your username/password as specified during the installation on the login screen:

Default Desktop

After login, you should see Ubuntu's beautiful desktop:

A brand new Ubuntu desktop

Next Steps

There you are! Feel free to have fun with your new Ubuntu 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 Ubuntu 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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