Virtual machine

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Try Linux in a virtual machine. This allows you to explore and get a feel for Linux without installing it. You can learn Linux in this virtual machine until you feel comfortable with it and want to install it.

Instructions on running Linux in a virtual machine[edit]

Download VirtualBox[edit]

VirtualBox is virtual machine software that runs on Windows, Mac, Linux and other operating systems. VirtualBox is free software and a free download. A virtual machine like VirtualBox lets you run an operating system within an operating system. This will let you try Linux and learn about it without changing your system.

Download Linux[edit]

Download Linux. Instructions are there for Linux Mint Debian Edition 2 but you can use and distribution you want.

Install VirtualBox[edit]

Create a virtual machine[edit]

Step 1[edit]

1 Blank VBox.png

On launching VirtualBox, this is the first screen.

Click "New" to start making a new virtual machine (VM).

Step 2[edit]

2 Name, OS & Distro.png

The name doesn't have to be this specific, it's only a label of your choosing.

However, the Type and Version dropdown menus need to be set as shown.

Step 3[edit]

3 RAM.png

Although Cinnamon will run on 512MB of RAM if necessary, at least 1GB is recommended.

As a virtual machine is just a "program," the RAM given to it will be returned when the VM is shut down.

Step 4[edit]

4 VHD.png

Click "Next" to create a VHD. We'll set the actual size of it soon.

Step 5[edit]

5 VHD Type.png

Accept the default of VDI; the other disk types aren't important if you're only going to use VirtualBox.

Step 6[edit]

6 VHD Fixed or Dynamic.png

If you're just exploring the use of VirtualBox to try Mint, leave the type set to Dynamic.

Step 7[edit]

7 VHD Size.png

VirtualBox's default setting of 8GB of disk space is too small now (earlier versions of Mint only needed that much).

For the 17.x versions of Mint, a minimum of 10GB is required, regardless of the desktop environment used (Cinnamon, Mate, XFCE).

Step 8[edit]

8 Ready to Configure.png


We've just set the amount of hard drive space and RAM that Mint will have.

Now we'll set up some more "hardware" details, like video memory, networking connections, etc.

Note that some of the options we set here can't be changed later, unless the VM is properly shut down from its menu, like a real computer. In the main menu, (STEP XX) if a VM's state is shown as "Saved" then some changes can't be made. If the state is shown as "Powered Off" then all options can be changed.

Step 9[edit]

9 Settings - General.png

In the General option, there isn't much of interest to us, but explore the tabs (Advanced, Description & Encryption) to see what further options are available.

Step 10[edit]

10 Settings - System.png

The System settings can usually be left at their defaults.

One thing to note is the Acceleration tab; it should show the Paravirtualisation Interface is set to "Default" and that the checkboxes are on for Hardware Virtualisation (Enable VT-x/AMD-V and Enable Nested Paging).

If you don't see the VT-x and/or the AMD-V shown, you may need to go into your BIOS/EFI to enable virtualisation.

Step 11[edit]

11 Settings - Choose Install Media.png

The only important setting here is to give your VM 128MB of Video Memory, by moving the slider all the way to the right.

Don't turn on any acceleration just yet, it often causes problems; this isn't a real computer with its own hardware and the drivers haven't been updated, so some performance loss is inevitable. If you later decide to install or dual-boot, it will perform much better.