Nowadays, more and more computer users are using free Linux-based operating systems, migrating from the commercial Windows to a faster, stronger and  generally safer environment. However, not all the Windows-based programs have a free, satisfying alternative for Linux. Using a software like Wine or PlayOnLinux might turn out to be tricky sometimes. Besides, not all the applications work trough these Windows emulators.

An alternative is to install a virtual Windows machine. The  virtual machine comes with several advantages:

  • you can install a full operating system without need of rebooting when you switch between them

  • you can then use it with most of Windows applications that you are used to

  • it’s virtual, therefore you are safer from viruses, malware, addware and all those threats

  • you may even keep the Linux as a “host” and never work with it; just start the computer, start the virtual machine and work on your beloved Windows

  • You may install as many operating systems as you wish; it’s very helpful, especially if you want to test them before a proper installation on a real hard-drive.

There are two pieces of software out there which help you to build a virtual machine. VMWare Workstation and VirtualBox. VMWare is commercial and comes at a price, therefore I will choose VirtualBox as a free alternative. I will show you how to install it using Ubuntu, but is also compatible with all major Linux distributions.

Note: I tried and succeeded to install Windows XP and Windows 7 through this software, never tried Windows 8, though. But it should work, too.

Open the Software Center in Ubunu by clicking the appropriate button on the dashboard.

 

In the search box on the top right, type “virtualbox”.

Click the “install” button and type your password when asked, in order to give the installation administrator rights. Once installed, type the program’s first letters in the dashboard. Click it.

You will get a welcome screen inviting you to setup a new virtual machine.

In part 2 of this article, we’ll look at how to set up and run a virtual machine.

~ Adrian