If you’ve yet to play around with your own virtual machine, you’re missing out. When I first found out that this type of technology was possible, literally emulating another operating system and essentially another “computer” within your own, I was pretty stunned and amazed. This opened a lot of possibilities for me and offered a lot of new things for me to explore and get familiar with. It was a real joy to go back and revisit my favorite OS of all time, Windows 98.
Virtual machines are more useful than just for fun and games, and they’ve helped me a huge deal in work-related areas of my life. Using a virtual machine offers a great sandbox if you’re ever dealing with sketchy software that may be riddled with things that you’re way too nervous to allow on your main disk. While some trojans and malware are sophisticated enough to pass through virtual disks, it’s still a common practice.
In a very well-written post from Justin just last year, it was thoroughly explained how you can get a VirtualBox up and running in practically a matter of minutes (depending on your download speed). In this post, I’d like to show you three great websites where you can find a heap of free virtual disk images.
VirtualBoxes takes on an extremely convenient and familiar approach to offering a very high number of free VDIs to you and I.
You’ve surely navigated and downloaded from SourceForge before, and VirtualBoxes follows the exact same format.
VirtualBoxes boasts 49 VDIs that you can download, all 100% free. They are as follows:
- Linux Mint
- Ubuntu Studio
- Debian GNU_Linux
- Ubuntu Linux
- Xubuntu Linux
- Kubuntu Linux
- Puppy Linux
- Vector Linux
- Tiny Core Linux
- Nexenta GNU_OpenSolaris
- Moblin 2 Beta
- Mandriva Linux
- Damn Small
- Deli Linux
The Images section of VirtualBoxes.org actually amounts to nothing more than a new face wrapped around our previous entry’s downloads. So why list both? Because you have a choice! VirtualBoxes.org takes the VirtualBoxes SourceForge page and sets it off with a more user-friendly interface. If browsing the SourceForge page comes across as uncomfortable to you, VirtualBoxes.org makes an attempt at sorting the VDIs more effectively and even includes screenshots.
Downloads on this version of the website offer slightly more information in regards to each Virtual Disk Image. You are told the file size, active user accounts (if any), and any notes that people deem worth sharing.
Being practically the same website, VirtualBoxes.org also includes links to 49 active VDIs.
VirtualBoxImages.com is probably the most well-known collection of VDIs online.
Navigating through the downloads is incredibly easy. Just click the header for a VDI that you’re interested in and you’ll be taken to a page that offers a torrent link above a list of patch notes and some information regarding the VDI that you’ve chosen. You’ll also get a nice screenshot, a date for the most recent activation, and the release date of the VDI.
The available VDIs on this website are well into the hundreds, and here are a few examples of what you can expect to be offered:
- Ubuntu 13.04 amd64 LAMP Server
- Ubuntu 13.04 amd64
- Ubuntu GNOME 13.04 amd64
- LinuxMint 201303 Debian Cinnamon 32bit
- LinuxMint 201303 ‘Debian’ amd64 Cinnamon
- Ubuntu 13.04 i386
- openSUSE 12.3 Gnome x86_64
- Ubuntu 12.04.2 amd64
- FuelPHP Framework Server w-Desktop
- CentOS 5.9 x86_64 Gnome
- LinuxMint 14 KDE Desktop 32bit
- Ubuntu 12.10 i386 Desktop VirtualBox
- Ubuntu 12.10 amd64 LAMP/Tomcat Server
- OS4 Opendesk 13 32bit
- Hanthana 17 i386
- Snowlinux e17 Crystal
- Slackware 14 32bit KDE
- Fedora 18 x86_84
- Sabayon Linux 10 amd64 Gnome
These three (or two, depending on how you look at it) offer the best selection of clean and completely free virtual disk images that you should be able to find online. Remember, be cautious when you’re hunting down a website to download any VDIs or ISOs frpm because many of the lesser-known websites harbor malware-infected versions that are out to do nothing more than give you an incredibly hard time.
Is there a reputable Virtual Disk Image vendor that I don’t have on the list? Please share any more that you know of in the comments section below!