Wordpress & Web Development

How To Try Out WordPress, Joomla & More Quickly & For Free In a Virtual Machine With Bitnami

James Bruce 05-10-2012

try out wordpressWe’ve talked about setting up a local server before, but the process is still fairly complicated and there’s lots of quirks and incompatibliities if you’re trying to run it on Windows, leading to nothing but hassle when you actually upload the thing to a real website. What if you could just boot up a virtual machine and have instant access to a WordPress install to play around with, all contained within a fully functional standardised web server setup? That’d be pretty awesome, right? Welcome to Bitnami.



We have an extensive free PDF guide for VirtualBox How to Use VirtualBox: User's Guide With VirtualBox you can easily install and test multiple operating systems. We'll show you how to set up Windows 10 and Ubuntu Linux as a virtual machine. Read More , so be sure to download that too.

What’s Bitnami?

So you probably know what a virtual machine is already; if you don’t, read this What Is a Virtual Machine? Everything You Need to Know Virtual machines allow you to run other operating systems on your current computer. Here's what you should know about them. Read More . Since you can run Linux in a virtual machine, you can also install a web server. The Bitnami appliances are simply a set of virtual machine files that have a web server pre-configured, and are also pre-installed with popular web applications like WordPress or Joomla.

try out wordpress

Let’s have a go then. I’m going to assume you already have VMWare Player installed. Head over to the Bitnami site and find a web-app you’d like to try. I’m going to be using WordPress. There’s a few download options, but we want the virtual machine one.

Extract the downloaded files to a folder, then simply open the enclosed VMX file with VMWare player.


try out joomla

VirtualBox version 4 and up requires a few extra steps to get started:

  • Create a new Ubuntu virtual machine.

try out joomla

  • Choose to use an existing virtual hard drive, and select the VMDK file in the downloaded VM folder (if you have many, choose the one with the shortest file name, this is the base hard drive file).
  • Run the new virtual machine.
  • You’ll now be booted to a login screen. By default, the username and password are both “bitnami“. You’ll be prompted to change both on first login.
  • Next, figure out the network address of your VM. With Linux, you can type ifconfig to find out. By default, mine was on a different private network of 10.x.x.x, which is inaccessible from my home network on the 192.168.0.x.

try out joomla

  • To make your VM accessible from other machines, change the network adapter settings to be bridged (I didn’t have much luck when doing this with wifi on OSX, but cabled ethernet worked fine). Restart the VM.

try wordpress for free

  • Now check the address again, and type that into any browser on a local machine. If successful, you should be greeted with this:

try out wordpress

That’s basically all there is to it. You now have a fully working server VM setup with WordPress installed and ready to go; the password and username of the particular web-app are outlined on the Bitnami page. In the case of WordPress, login with username user and password bitnami. You can do ahead and install random themes and plugins, and test away.

Although WordPress enables you to do anything through the wp-admin interface, other web apps may require you to upload files. Follow the instructions here to setup SCP and SSH for file transfer.


I’ve got to say, I think this is pretty incredible really. I have run local servers in the past but always been kind of frustrated with them; this is a simple boot and go and gives you a true server environment to work with, complete with PHPMyAdmin for the database. If you’d rather though, you can just download pre-configured server stacks without the apps, and then go through the app installs yourself, but this is a little more advanced.

Could this possibly be any easier? I doubt it. Have you ever tried running a server VM, or made use of Bitnami stacks before? Do you think you’ll finally get around to having a go with WordPress now?

Related topics: Blogging, VirtualBox, Virtualization, Web Server.

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  1. Mauri Cleophas Opande
    February 13, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    YES, I think am fully satisfied with your explaination about how using it is. and am thinking on how to start learning more on WordPress instead.

  2. Anonymous
    November 9, 2015 at 11:03 am

    I've created an app where you can try out a few CMS / Webshops, even without registration:[Broken URL Removed]
    Currently Joomla, WordPress, Drupal, Typo3, Magento, Opencart is available, and the list will grow. I've created it to experiment infrastructure automation and functional programming, but I hope it can be useful to You too :)

  3. Chris Powell
    January 9, 2013 at 2:42 am

    Thank you for this information. I may use it one day.

    Chris Powell

  4. Prem Kumar S
    December 9, 2012 at 3:13 am

    Need to try out............

  5. Sean A
    November 22, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    This is really cool. Instead of having to get a web server set up you can test drive with no hassle!

  6. Boni Oloff
    October 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Great tools, if you still confused which CMS to use.

  7. kumar raja
    October 18, 2012 at 10:09 am

    i am using the Virtual machine and it is nice and this topic is quite interesting and useful

  8. Raghav Gupta
    October 10, 2012 at 5:17 am

    good way to start with all at once.. Not bad

  9. Sam Kar
    October 6, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    This will come handy at some point in time.


  10. Mac Witty
    October 6, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    I might have missed something but I dont see it so much easier than MAMP for Mac OS X. Or maybe it is just that I have become familiar with MAMP

    • Muo TechGuy
      October 6, 2012 at 7:16 pm

      Running a local server can certainly be easier initially, but the advantage of bitnami is that it can be sent straight to amazon cloud for deployment, and represents a "truer" experience - sometimes there are quirks when working locally.

    • Daniel Lopez
      October 8, 2012 at 2:38 am

      It is certainly comparable. The advantage of BitNami MAMP Stack is that you can easily add dozens of PHP apps automatically on top of it (versus fiddling with settings, etc.)

  11. Daniel Lopez
    October 6, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Thank you for the great review! I think a nice complement is to run one of our cloud images in the free tier from Amazon. Since they include the exact same versions of everything, you can develop locally in the VM and then host in the cloud, easily moving between each one

  12. Harish Jonnalagadda
    October 6, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Whoa very useful article! Use a lot of CMS so this is going to come in handy.

  13. Arun Singh
    October 6, 2012 at 1:49 am

    nice trick

  14. Kavita
    October 5, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    good work...gives a lot of handy info...and saves a lot on hard disks...

  15. Kavita
    October 5, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    good work...gives a lot of handy info...and saves a lot on hard disks...

  16. Salih
    October 5, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    You should also check TurnkeyLinux Appliances

  17. Andre Mendoza
    October 5, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    I've used VirtualBox on a Windows laptop in the past and currently have Parallels on my Mac. I'd love to give Moodle another try. Any way to do this on a Mac? Thanks. BTW, the VMWare player for Windows link above redirects to this article.

    • Erica
      October 7, 2012 at 1:19 am

      You can download the native installers, which are also free from BitNami, to install Moodle and other apps on your Mac. The installers include uninstallers, so you can just run that to delete everything off of your system if/when you are done with it. Everything is installed in its own directory, so it shouldn't interfere with other software that you have running on your system.

      Download the apps (installers, VMs or cloud templates) from: http://bitnami.org/stacks

      -Erica @ BitNami