Curious about Linux and want to try it out? This article is for you. Here are some easy step by step instructions to get started poking around with my favorite operating system.

Linux is a hot topic in tech, and people are flocking to it like crazy. But it can be scary, especially if you’ve never partitioned a hard drive before, and don’t want to wipe Windows or OSX off your computer to try it. With VirtualBox you don’t have to. Let’s begin!!

Note: you can follow these instructions in both Windows or MacOS, the steps are the same. You can also Watch a video here showing the steps.

Set up VirtualBox

To start, you’ll need to download VirtualBox.

How to install Linux

If you’ve never used it before or are unfamiliar with Virtualization, Virtualbox creates small machines within your PC. So you’re running a small computer within your computer, which is how we’re going to run this.

Here’s a good explanation of how virtualization works, if you want to dig deeper.

For now, as long you get VirtualBox installed, you’re ready for the next step.

Download a Linux Installation ISO

An ISO is an image they use to burn DVDs, which is how we installed Linux for many years. These days we don’t use DVDS, but we still use ISOs.

How to install Linux

For this tutorial, I’m choosing the Pop!_OS ISO. Download this to your machine and make a note of where you save it. Pop!_OS is a fantastic distribution for new Linux users.

Create a New Virtual machine

Next, you’ll want to create a new virtual machine. Click on the new button:

How to install Linux

Next, you’ll need to name the operating system:

How to install Linux

In the next box, we have where the VM is stored. I like to store mine on my D drive, so I change this location.

How to install Linux

Next, we’ll change the type to Linux and set it to 64 bit. This isn’t terribly important, as long as you get the 32/64 bit part right.

How to install Linux

Here’s where you give it memory. And this entirely depends on how much you have on your host system. I will give this 8 gigabytes of RAM for now.

How to install Linux

Next we’ll create a hard disk. We have some options here. We have do not add a virtual hard disk, which I’ve never used, create a new hard disk, or you can use an existing one. I’m going to create a new one.

How to install Linux

Here we have a few choices. This entirely depends on whether or not you use other virtualization programs, like VMWare or something else. If you are only using Virtual Box, you can choose whatever you like here. I’m going to choose to create a VDI (Virtual Disk Image).

How to install Linux

Next, you can choose dynamically allocated or fixed size. If it’s dynamic, it will use less space on your drive and will expand as it fills up. If you set a fixed size, it will take up that much space on your disk, whether you use it or not, but it will be faster.

I usually choose dynamically allocated to save disk space.

How to install Linux

Next, we’re going to create our disk. I’m going to allocate about 30 gigs for this.

How to install Linux

Now our virtual machine is created. I like to jump in and make a few settings.

Set up Your New Virtual Machine

Now your Virtual Machine is all set up, and I like to make a few tweaks to it before starting up.

The first thing I generally change is the CPU. I like to give it some more CPUS for faster installs.

How to install Linux

Storage is important. You’ll need to add a fake DVD into the drive. This is the ISO we downloaded earlier.

Click this DVD and choose an optional disk file.

I will select my POP OS ISO here.

How to install Linux

Finally, I like to change the networking. When you select a bridged adapter, it connects to your host machine and the internet. That’s all you need to know about adapters for now.

How to install Linux

Installing Pop!_OS on Your Virtual machine

It’s time to start up our Virtual Machine.

How to install Linux

And we can see our installer in full now.

I will select English

and the United States of America.

Then English again

and English again. There are a lot of customization options for localization here if you need it.

How to install Linux

At this screen, you can do a custom install. This is helpful if it’s on your real computer and you want to dual boot with Windows. But since this virtual machine will be dedicated to just Pop OS, I’ll select clean install here.

How to install Linux

Next, I’ll select the hard disk, which is the virtual disk we created a minute ago.

How to install Linux

Then I’ll click erase and install.

How to install Linux

You can encrypt the drive if you want. I don’t ever do this with virtual machines because they don’t have anything important on them. However, if you’re installing this on a real computer I suggest encrypting it, it’s an excellent idea.

How to install Linux

Now it will start installing Pop!_OS on your virtual machine.

How to install Linux

And you’re done!

How to install Linux

Your new Pop_OS! Virtual machine

So now your new virtual machine is installed. You’ll need to do a few things to set up, like creating your user account and root password. After that, you’re ready to go!

How to install Linux

You now have a nice little Linux machine to experiment with!

How to install Linux

The great thing about this, you can do anything you want with it, and if it breaks you still have a usable computer!

You can learn about Linux and play around with it all you want.

If you follow this tutorial and install Linux, please Let me know! I’d love to hear from you.

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Published: Apr 22, 2020 by Jeremy Morgan. Contact me before republishing this content.