Quickly try out a wide variety of open source operating systems, some you’re familiar with and some you aren’t. You can start browsing now at Virtualboxes, a website that takes almost all the work out of trying out operating systems in Virtualbox.
VirtualBox, in case you’re not familiar with it, is free virtualization software. It lets you run any operating system in a window, meaning you don’t need to worry about partitioning, dual-booting or any of the other complicating factors that come with trying out a new operating system. You can find out more about VirtualBox in our VirtualBox manual by Lachlan Roy, if you’re curious. Read that manual and you’ll learn: installing operating systems within VirtualBox can be annoying. You’ll need to go through all the steps of installation, just as if you were installing the OS to an actual computer.
Skip that step by visiting Virtualboxes, a collection of pre-installed virtual machines you can use. You’ll find most major Linux operating systems there, and more than a few free operating systems you probably didn’t realize exist. For (obvious) legal reasons you won’t find Windows or Mac OSX here, but there’s a wide variety of free operating systems you can try out. They’re really easy to get started with.
Download Your Operating System
To get started, head to Virtualboxes, then click the “Images” button. Here you’ll find a list of operating systems you can download.
Click any of these operating systems and you’ll be presented with different versions of your chosen operating system to try out.
The newest version is usually at the bottom, and is probably the version you will want to try out. You’ll also find, when necessary, a username and password. Take note of this – you’ll need it later to use your virtual machine.
In my case, I’m curious about Haiku, an open source version of the classic pre-Windows operating system BeOS. I downloaded the third alpha release from VirtualBoxes, so let’s set it up together.
Set Up Your OS In VirtualBox
Open up VirtualBox, if you already have it; download VirtualBox now otherwise.
The file you download will be compressed using 7zip, a free program for archiving files. Install 7zip and you’ll be able to open this file easily. In Windows, this is done by right-clicking the file and clicking “Extract“:
Once you’ve got VirtualBox running, add a new machine. Let VirtualBox know the operating system you’re adding, selecting “other” if there’s no exact match (the case for me with Haiku). Make sure you give the machine enough RAM to run your new operating system; check the website of your operating system for requirements if you’re not sure. When asked to create or select a hard drive, simply browse to the file you download from VirtualBoxes.
You should now be able to start your virtual machine. Do so and start exploring.
It’s certainly different than any system I’ve used before. I’ve never used BeOS, myself, but if you have I’d recommend checking this out. I’m not sure I want to switch to Haiku anytime soon, but it’s fun to play with.
What operating systems will you use Virtualboxes to play with? Let me know in the comments below, because I want to play too. Recommend something and I may review it later.
Also feel free to point out any other collections of virtual machines, because I love to learn.