Virtualbox offers a safe and easy way to try out different operating systems
If you have ever wanted to try out an alternative to Windows such as Ubuntu Linux but without putting your files at risk, Virtualbox provides the answer. Virtualbox creates a virtual computer in a window so you can install Linux or any PC-compatible operating system.
As the virtual computer exists separately to the host you can be more adventurous without having to worry about the consequences. Virtualbox can also take snapshots of the virtual computers so they can be quickly restored.
Installation is a little more complicated than most software because it has to install new networking drivers. This will temporarily disconnect the computer from the local network and internet so ensure all other programs are closed before starting. This is good practice anyway. There may also be warnings from Windows XP about unsigned drivers and User Account Control in Windows 7 and Vista.
Once the program has installed, click on the New button to start the wizard to create a new virtual computer. There are plenty of presents for different operating systems and it will do a good job of working out which one to use from the name given to the computer.
Operating systems can be installed from physical CDs or DVDs, or from ISO files. The latter is helpful because it avoids having to create a physical disc from the ISO file.
When they are first created, virtual machines 'capture' the mouse so it only moves within their window. Pressing the right Ctrl button releases the mouse. This can be fixed by installing what are called Guest Additions (found in the Devices menu of the virtual computer window). These work with Windows and Linux and make Virtualbox much easier to use.
Once Guest Additions have been installed Virtualbox can then share files with the host system, either with full access or just read only.
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An excellent utility for getting experience with other operating systems
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