For those of you new to the idea of virtualization, virtualization is the nesting of “sub-operating systems” within a host operating system. More specifically, virtual operating systems, better known as virtual machines, allow the end user to leverage the power of the host PC to explore other operating systems. With virtualization, a user can run Linux inside of Windows, Windows inside of Linux, Linux inside of Linux, or Windows inside of Windows. A nested operating system has access to all of the components of the host operating system including: USB ports, wireless cards, parallel ports, firewire, etc.
This tutorial will provide instructions on how to nest Ubuntu Linux 6.10 Edgy Eft into Microsoft XP using only free software. In addition, I will demonstrate how to fully install Ubuntu Linux 6.1 and how to set up a shared folder so you can copy files between Windows and Linux. I would recommend having at least 512MB of RAM and 4GB of hard disk space available to complete this process.
The first step in the tutorial is to download and install VMware Player. VMware player is a free download, and the installation is very straight forward. Download VMware Player from the VMware homepage. After you download and complete the installation of VMware Player, navigate to your “My Network Places” and then to “View Network Connections.” You will notice the addition of at least two network connections: the VMware Network Bridge and the VMware Network Adapter. These additions will allow your guest operating system (Ubuntu in this case) to share the Internet connection provided by the host operating system (Windows). The network bridge will allow your virtual machine to have complete access to the Internet.
The second step is to download Ubuntu Linux. You can download Ubuntu for free from the Ubuntu homepage. The download will be a disk image of Ubuntu with an extension of .ISO. The download will be 698MB, so depending on the speed of your Internet connection, it may take several hours to download completely. To enable the fastest download, pick a mirror closest to your physical location. Also, if you are at all unsure about which version of Ubuntu to download, choose “CD Image for desktop and laptop PCs.”
The third step is to download the VMware configuration files. These files will be necessary to setup and configure your virtual machine. These files can be directly downloaded here: OS.zip. Thank you to Linux Wolphination for hosting the files. Before you extract the contents of OS.zip, you want to setup your directory tree.
In C:\ make a folder called Ubuntu. Inside C:\Ubuntu, you can extract the contents of OS.zip and move your disk image of Ubuntu. In your C:\Ubuntu folder you should now have Ubuntu-6.10-desktop-i386.iso, OS.vmx, and OS.vmdk. Make sure your C:\Ubuntu folder matches mine shown below:
Configure the OS.vmx file for Ubuntu
You have one more step to complete before you can boot our virtual machine for the first time. You need to configure the OS.vmx file to launch Ubuntu. Right click on the file and choose “Open with Notepad…” Once the file is open, there will be several lines you want to change. I will explain the configuration file below.
Line 3: memsize = “512” This represents the amount of RAM you want to dedicate to running your virtual machine. I would recommend leaving at least 128 MB to run Windows XP. On a system with 1GB of RAM I think the default of 512 will work just fine. Line 9: ide1:0.fileName = “c:\image.iso” This represents the location of your disk image for the virtual machine. You want to change this line to represent the location of the Ubuntu disk image. Change this line to read as follows: ide1:0.fileName = “C:\Ubuntu\Ubuntu-6.10-desktop-i386.iso” You virtual machine is now completely configured and you can resave the document. Now when you click OS.vmx, VMware Player will launch and will prompt you to create a new identifier. This dialog is shown below. Choose “Create” and VMware Player will start Booting Ubuntu. Congratulations, you have now successfully configured your virtual machine.
The preliminary boot screen of Ubuntu will look like the image shown below. Be patient, it may take several minutes for Ubuntu to boot. Click Start or Install Ubuntu.
Once Ubuntu completes the boot process, you will be inside the virtual machine. Double click the icon called “Install” on the desktop. After you double click the installation icon, you will begin the install process. The process is six steps in length, but should take less than two minutes to get setup. The first screen you will see will be to choose your language. In this cause we will choose English from the window and click Forward
The next screen lets you choose your location and time settings. After you set the location and time for your location click Forward
In the next screen you will choose your keyboard layout. Make your selection and click Forward
The next screen lets you define main user id with password and computer name. Fill in everything and click Forward
The fifth step in the process is the “Prepare disk space” prompt, feel free to choose “Erase entire disk…” This will install Ubuntu into your virtual machine. There is no risk to corrupting any data or any existing partitions in Windows. In fact, VMware will probably detect your virtual machine hard disk as greater than 100 GB. This is a somewhat arbitrary estimate of the disk space. I recommend choosing the default “Erase entire disk…” as is shown below. Click Forward to go on
The last step of the installation is just a summary of the information you entered. Feel free to click “Install” and Ubuntu will be completely installed and turned into a virtual machine. The installation process should take approximately 20 minutes. After a reboot you can start using Ubuntu on a regular basis.
Share data between Windows and Ubuntu virtual machine
After Ubuntu finishes installing, you will be able to setup a directory that will be shared between Windows and Ubuntu. On your Windows desktop, create a folder called “Shared” and right click on the folder and choose Properties. Select the sharing tab at the top and choose “Share this folder on the network” and “Allow network users to change my files.” This is shown below:
In Ubuntu, go to Places >> Network Servers >> and your Windows Network will now be visible. Anything you want to share between Windows and Ubuntu should be saved to this location. This is shown below:
You can try out other flavors of Linux by following the same routine. If you are new to Linux, you will quickly learn that there are many different versions of Linux; however, the installation procedures for most Linux distributions are strikingly similar. The same instructions shown above will work equally well in both Linux and Mac, also. Virtualization is a powerful tool that can be used for many purposes.
If you are comfortable with this process and your computer has enough memory, you can install Linux as a server and run a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) server from within Windows. Ubuntu also offers a server version which will automate the process of setting up Apache, MySQL, and PHP. Ubuntu Server is available at the Ubuntu homepage and is significantly smaller in size. In addition, the download and installation process is much shorter.
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