Just when you think you explored all of Windows, some feature pops up which makes you enjoy it even more. For example, did you know you can run Ubuntu or any other Linux distribution — any other operating system for that matter — on Windows using Microsoft’s own software? Here’s how!
Hyper-V: Microsoft’s Answer to Virtualization
You’re reading this on a computer with an installed OS. For the most part, that’s what computers do: create a contained environment by which users can view, edit, and run files. Few, however, bother with using two or more operating systems on one single computer.
Disclaimer: According to Microsoft, Hyper-V is available on 64-bit versions of Windows Professional, Enterprise, and Education in Windows 8 and later. It is not available on Windows Home edition.
While this may seem needless to some, virtual machines — programs that simulate whole disc images, operating systems included — can be fantastically practical for regular and power users alike. Have a specific piece of software you’d like to use, but aren’t sure of its stability? Want to annoy those pesky PC telemarketers? Would you like to try out a Linux distribution from the comfort of your Windows desktop? Even with these examples, we haven’t even scratched the surface to what virtual machines can do. That’s where Hyper-V comes into play.
For our purposes, however, it suffices to say: if you want to try out a new Linux distribution, you can do so without formatting your hard drive or committing to a dual boot. In fact, you won’t even need a third-party installer.
There are a few ways to install Hyper-V, all very simple. The easiest are PowerShell and Windows Features.
For PowerShell, open your PowerShell application by clicking on your Start Menu and typing in powershell. Right-click on the Windows PowerShell option and select Run as administrator. Then, enter the following into PowerShell:
Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName:Microsoft-Hyper-V -All
Press Enter and you’ll be prompted to download Hyper V. You can also download Hyper V using a GUI (Graphical User Interface) by entering windows features into your Start Menu and selecting the Turn Windows features on or off option.
Enable the Hyper V option and select OK to download.
Run Linux From Hyper V
Now we can get started. If you’re familiar with virtual machine software, Hyper-V will become quickly familiar. If not, virtual machine software is still simple to understand. Begin by opening your Hyper-V Manager. Open your Start Menu and type in hyper v to see this option.
Next, we’ll need to create a virtual machine from an ISO image. Right-click on the parameter labeled DESKTOP to the left of the window, below Hyper-V Manager. Select New, and then Virtual Machine. You can also do this via the Actions menu to the right of the window.
This will open your Virtual Machine Wizard. The wizard will walk you through the complete process of creating a virtual machine.
Follow the wizard, taking particular attention to the following:
- Assign Memory: You will assign a quantity of startup RAM memory to your virtual machine. The RAM will then be allocated to your virtual machine when it runs. Remember, your RAM limit determines the overall speed of your virtual machine. Try to keep your virtual machine functional rather than optimal — 4 GB will allow your virtual machine to run standard applications, while 8 GB is typically the most one would need to run resource-intensive games. In order to ensure your virtual machine runs smoothly, check the Use Dynamic Memory for this virtual machine option.
- Connect Virtual Hard Disk: Select Create a virtual hard disk. As for the Size parameter, remember to include both the size of your OS and additional storage for files, programs, and so on. Windows 10, for example, takes up around 20 GB for the 64-bit version.
Work your way to Installation Options. Within this window, select Install an operating system from a bootable CD/DCD-ROM. Next, select the Image file (.iso) radio button and select your ISO file through the Browse button.
Activating and Using Your Virtual Machine
Now that you’ve created a virtual machine, you will need to both activate and open your virtual machine in order to use it.
You should see your installed OS labeled under the main Virtual Machines window. Right-click on your virtual machine and select the Start option. Your virtual machine will then initiate. When its State is set to Running, you can now start the virtual machine. Right-click on your running machine and select Connect. This will finally open your ISO.
Install your OS as you would any other. You now have a fantastic, first-party virtual machine of a Linux distribution at your disposal. The best thing about installing Linux distributions is the selection. Linux is capable of absolutely anything. From a beautiful distribution to a largely technical one, Linux has you covered.
“You Got Linux in My Windows!”
What’s better than one operating system? Two operating systems, working in tandem with one another in one trusted application. Now you can try out a Linux distribution, stable or otherwise, in a safe environment. Well, that and any other operating system. So… what are you waiting for?
What’s your favorite virtual machine software? Let us know in the comments below!