Test Drive Linux Operating Systems with VirtualBox

Jorge Sierra 16-02-2009

Test Drive Linux Operating Systems with VirtualBox logo vboxVirtualBox is a great way to test out new operating systems, without having to configure your machine to dual-boot. You can even install Windows 7 on VirtualBox How to Install Windows 7 on a VirtualBox Virtual Machine Microsoft will soon stop support for Windows 7. One way of keeping it running is through a virtual machine with VirtualBox. Read More . There are two ways to obtain free operating systems for VirtualBox: using virtual disk images Mount CD or DVD Image Files Virtually Using A Portable App Read More (VDIs) or actual installation disks.


Downloading virtual disk images is probably the quickest and easiest way to test out a new operating system on VirtualBox.  Downloading and using a virtual disk image is the equivalent of installing a new physical hard drive into a computer, with the hard drive already having the operating system on it.

If you have two computers with identical underlying hardware, it should theoretically be possible to move the hard drive from one to the other.  That is exactly what you are doing when you download and use a virtual disk image on VirtualBox.  This is because a VirtualBox system on one computer is essentially identical to a VirtualBox system on another.

There is a website called VirtualBoxImages that has a number of free virtual disk images for free operating systems available to download.  You can simply download the virtual disk images, set up your virtual machine to use them, power up the virtual machine, and you’re all set!


There are more detailed instructions on VirtualBoxImages for using the VDIs.  The instructions on that page describe how to install their Puppy Linux VDI, but the steps are the same for other operating systems as well.  You will just use a different VDI file, rather than the one for Puppy Linux.  VirtualBoxImages has a number of free virtual disk images available, including:

  • Ubuntu 9.04 Alpha 4
  • Xubuntu 9.04 Alpha 4
  • Debian 5.0 RC2
  • ReactOS 0.3.8
  • OzOs 0.9 Desktop
  • PC/OS Open32 Desktop 2009 [Broken URL Removed]

They also have some disk images that are labeled as “premium downloads” where you pay a nominal fee to download them.  I’m not sure why they’ve decided to make some VDIs available for free and they require you to pay for others.  Some of the premium VDIs available are:

  • OpenSolaris 2008.11 VDI
  • openSUSE 11.1 Gnome VDI (Release)
  • openSUSE 11.1 KDE (Release)
  • Fedora 10
  • CentOS 4.7 Server

Regardless of whether VirtualBoxImages has them labeled as premium or not, all of the VDIs they have for download are for free operating systems.  You may not be able to find the VDIs you want for free, but you can still download the installation media and install the operating systems yourself.

Although doing so involves more work on your part since you need to run the full installation, it allows you to avoid the cost of paying for one of the premium VDIs.  Here are some links for the installation disks:

Once you download the installation disk images, the installation process is very much the same as installing Windows 7 onto VirtualBox How to Install Windows 7 on a VirtualBox Virtual Machine Microsoft will soon stop support for Windows 7. One way of keeping it running is through a virtual machine with VirtualBox. Read More .  You’ll just be using different file names for the installation disk images, and the process for installing the VirtualBox guest additions will be slightly different.


Have you installed any of these operating systems on VirtualBox?  Have you found .torrent links for any of VirtualBoxImage’s premium VDIs?  If so, please do share them with us!  Do not share .torrent files for operating systems that are not free.

Related topics: Disk Image, Dual Boot, VirtualBox, Virtualization.

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  1. Ben
    February 23, 2009 at 6:28 am

    I use a combination of Virtual Box and Virtual PC on my host PC. Virtual PC IMO is the easiest and quickest solution for running Windows guess O/S if your running a Windows host. Though when it comes to Unix/Linux and other alternative guest OS's on a Windows host, I prefer Virtual Box which has much better alt.os support.

  2. Windows Guy
    February 17, 2009 at 12:02 am

    I personally prefer Virtual PC over Virtual Box.

  3. whs
    February 16, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    I run Ubuntu and Windows 7 in Virtual Box. It works extremely well and I like the fact that I can switch between the host Vista and the guest system. I have also written a tutorial on Virtual Box and how to run Windows7 in it. MS Virtual PC is alao covered in that tutorial:

  4. Travis Quinnelly
    February 16, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    What makes VirtualBox better than say MS's Virtual PC?

    • Jorge Sierra
      February 16, 2009 at 3:10 pm

      It's open source and it's not a Microsoft product. :-D But seriously...

    • It's available for Linux, Mac OS X, as well as Windows.
    • It has support for 3D graphics.
    • It supports virtual machine extensions on Intel and AMD chips that support it.
    • It supports USB passthrough
    • I'm not sure if Virtual PC has all of those features (yet).