If you want to enjoy Ubuntu (one of the most popular Linux based OS), along with Windows 7 on the same computer then there are two options to do so. First is to install Ubuntu using dual boot and second is to setup a virtual machine. Virtual machine is a technology by which you can run one OS within another OS. It means if you can run Ubuntu inside Windows 7, both the OS runs simultaneously and you can switch to any OS without restarting your PC.
There are several applications available to create a virtual machine in Windows PC. But VirtualBox, Sun Microsystems is free, feature rich and one of the best tool available to create virtual machine. This tutorial mainly focuses on the method to run latest version of Ubuntu inside Windows 7. First you need to download the iso file for Ubuntu latest version from the official website. It is available free as it is an open source software. Here’s the step by step guide to perform the installation.
Download Virtualbox for Windows from here.
Install and run Virtualbox software. Click on the New icon given at the top left. On Create new Virtual Machine wizard click Next.
Now select Operating system Linux and Version Ubuntu from the given drop down. Also give it a name Ubuntu 10.10. Click Next.
In the next step you have to assign a memory to your new virtual machine. By default it is 512 MB which is sufficient to run Ubuntu on your computer. But you can assign 1 GB more memory if you are using more than 4GB of RAM. After assigning the RAM, click Next.
In Create New Virtual Machine wizard. Keep the checked option as it is and click on the Next button.
Select the Storage type as Dynamically expanding storage. The main advantage of this storage type is it uses very less amount of hard disk space according to demand. If you have large disk space on the partition on which Windows is installed then you may go to the second option, i.e. Fixed-size storage. After selecting the option, click Next.
In the next step you have to select the size of virtual hard disk. The default value is 8 GB. Keep it as it is and click Next.
In the next step check the summary of new virtual disk and click on Finish button.
In the next step summary of new virtual machine will appear. Check it and click Finish.
Your virtual machine is created. But this is still the half process. In the next step you have to mount the download iso file of Ubuntu on the virtual hard disk. For this click on the Ubuntu 10.10 Powered Off given at the left bar. You can also start the process by clicking the Start button given below menu bar.
Read all the instructions carefully and click Next button.
Click on the folder icon given at the right-middle. Now select the downloaded iso file of Ubuntu from the location you stored it in your PC. After selected, click Next button.
First Run Wizard will start. Read the instructions and click Finish button.
Ubuntu will start running on your Windows 7 computer. It will show instructions related to color of Window, read it carefully and click OK.
Ubuntu supports mouse pointer integration. All movement of your mouse on virtual box window will be directly sent to the Ubuntu. Read the instructions and click OK.
Ubuntu screen will appear on your Windows 7 computer.
Now go to download page. Click on the Show me how button given next to Install It! (Step 4) and complete the process. That is how you can install Ubuntu on your Windows 7 computer using VirtualBox.
Note: I used latest Ubuntu version while testing the whole process. In any future update the process of installation will be same.