Oracle VirtualBox

Oracle's VirtualBox is open source and free software that many, many other IT professionals and programmers use constantly if they need to run a Windows or Linux OS on a Mac laptop or desktop, or a different Windows OS on a Windows 10 laptop or desktop, or a even Windows 10 configured differently on a Windows 10 laptop or desktop. An operating system run within another operating system is a Virtual Machine (or VM). That's not the official definition, but it's a good one to use here. You can have multiple VM's on one machine, but you need a fairly powerful machine to run more than 1 VM simultaneously. The vast majority, especially the ones who are not systems administrators or maintaining servers, rarely need more than one VM at a time anyway.

This is a great, free, and open source alternative to VMware or Parallels.

Also, anyone at Drexel can get a Windows 10 Enterprise or Windows 10 Educational license at Azure Dev Tools. Instructions for that are included in the instructions below.


  1. Be prepared to devote 30 minutes or up to 2 hours to get this working the first time.
  2. Download and install VirtualBox from the following webpage.
    2. You'll need a .iso file to actually run a particular VM.
  3. Visit Azure Dev Tools to download a .iso
    1. Instructions on accessing OS's form Azure Dev Tools is at the webpage below.
      1. Azure Dev Tools - Visio, Project, and Other Microsoft Downloads
    2. Or grab a Linux .iso from the website that maintains it. For example, Ubuntu Linux's download webpage is at
  4. Open VirtualBox.
  5. Click "New."
  6. Type in a "Name" (like "Windows 10 VM" or "Linux Ubuntu 18.04 LTS VM" or what you will) for your VM.
  7. Choose a folder store for your VM.
    1. Recommend storing it with your .iso file in a new folder you create (may have to do this outside VirtualBox in Finder (Mac) or File Explorer (Windows)) called something like "VirtualBox VMs" or what you will.
  8. For "Type," choose the OS (Windows, Linux, etc - You cannot legally use a macOS or Mac OS on a Windows computer).
  9. For "Version," choose Windows 10, or Windows 7, or Ubuntu, or what the version of the OS is that you are installing.
    1. You almost certainly are using a 64-bit computer, but use the following websites if you are not positive.
      1. Windows 10: (expand section on "How can I tell if my computer is running 32-bit or 64-bit Windows").
      2. Mac: Choose apple icon in upper left → About this Mac
  10. Click "Continue."
  11. For "Memory Size", start with recommended sizes, and click "Continue" or "Create."
    1. This can be adjusted later (but only if the VM is shut off).
  12. For "Hard Disk," let VirtualBox "Create a virtual hard disk now," by choosing that option, and clicking "Create."
    1. Use "VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image)," and click "Create" or "Continue."
  13. Let the "Storage on physical hard drive" be set to "Dynamically allocated," and click "Continue."
  14. Do not modify settings for "File location and size," and click "Create."
  15. Double-click the VM in the left navigation panel in VirtualBox.
  16. In the window that opens, find and select the .iso files.
  17. The VM window may be small. If so, find the "View" menu, and choose "Scaled Mode," and select "Switch."
    1. Then pull on the corners of the VM window to make it fit.
  18. You can close the little reminder windows at the top of your VM (like the one on "mouse pointer integration").
  19. Follow the on-screen instructions in the VM windows to install your Windows or Linux or other VM.
    1. You'll need to make your own choices here. There are too many OS's and options to guide you. :-)
    2. But it's hard to screw up too badly, as long as you choose your own language.
    3. That said, for Windows 10 users, you usually want to choose a local account when you install Win 10 as a VM for the first time.
    4. And your VM may restart to apply updates to the virtual OS.
    5. For Windows, if you have a Drexel account, try logging in with your Drexel "Work" Microsoft account or Office 365 account credentials (userid email and password).
      1. If that does not work, try the local account option.
        1. In the smaller text, there should be a link to this option.
      2. If you run into an issue, look for a "Skip" button or link or option. 
      3. We do NOT recommend turning "Cortana" on in Windows 10. It's additional resources that may not work anyway in your VM.
  20. (THIS OPTION FOR PERSONAL OR EDUCATIONAL USE ONLY.) Once your VM is booted up and you are logged in, and if you are using Windows, click the "Devices" menu in VirtualBox, and click "Insert Guest Additions CD". Then open "File Explorer," go to "This PC," enter the "CD Drive," and open and install the "VBoxWindowsAdditions" application. Use all of the default options, and install what they say to install. Then choose the option to "Reboot Now" when prompted to "Reboot."
    1. Linux (at least Ubuntu Linux) has a Guest Additions option too. See the following pages for Linux. Not all flavors of Linux covered.
  21. After reboot, you're all set. 

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