How-To: Setup a Pre-Built VirtualBox Guest Image [Tutorial/Guide]

Table of Contents


This guide will assist in loading a pre-built VirtualBox image. The example used is a pre-built Ubuntu 9.10 “Karmic Koala” guest image. Any VirtualBox image can be used however.


This guide assumes that you have already installed VirtualBox successfully and will to walk you through how to setup and start your Linux guest (besides, if you’ve installed any program in Windows before, the process of installing VirtualBox is identical, painless, and easy). If you do need assistance, please refer to the VirtualBox user’s manual, Chapter 2, Section 2.1.

Installing and running a VirtualMachine is fairly basic and doesn’t have a lot of requirements. You will, however, need a computer with enough harddrive space to both install VirtualBox and have a minimum of 2.4GB free (which will dynamically expand as needed up to a max of 10GB) for the virtual machine image referred to in this guide. Other hardware requirements are as follows (source: VirtualBox FAQs)

You will need to download VirtualBox for Windows hosts from the VirtualBox website here: http://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads.

You will also need to download the pre-built VirtualBox .vdi image containing Ubuntu 9.10 with guest additions installed. You can download this image here: ubuntu-9.10.vdi.7z. More pre-built images can be found at http://virtualbox.wordpress.com/images/.

When you have finished installing VirtualBox and you have downloaded the pre-built Ubuntu 9.10 image, you will need to 1) extract the ubuntu-9.10.vdi.7z file using 7zip, or a similar program, and then 2) move the extracted ubuntu-9.10.vdi image from the original download location on your harddrive to C:Documents and SettingsUsername.VirtualBoxVDI (Mac OS: ~/Library/VirtualBox/VDI)


The procedure is accommodated with screenshots to help you visualize the process.

  1. Open or start the VirtualBox application. You will be welcomed with this screen.
  2. We want to create a new virtual machine, so click on the “New” button.
  3. You will be directed to a “New Virtual Machine Wizard”. Click “Next >”.
  4. Here, you will name your virtual machine. I chose “UbuntuVM”. Also, specify that you are using the Linux operating system and the Ubuntu version. This will set the values of the next few screens to the recommended default values for that particular virtual machine. Click “Next >”
  5. Leave this at the recommended default level of 384MB RAM and click “Next >”
  6. Here, you will choose your VirtualBox hard disk, or image. You will want to use the existing hard disk that you downloaded earlier called ubuntu-9.10.vdi, so click on “Use existing hard disk” and then click on the icon with the “up” arrow on top of the folder. This will open the next dialog window.
  7. This is the Virtual Media Manager window that was opened from the last step. This is where you will add the ubuntu-9.10.vdi image to the list of virtual machine images, so click on “Add”.
  8. Here, you will need to drill down in your directory structure to C:Documents and SettingsUsername.VirtualBoxVDI where the ubuntu-9.10.vdi file is located, highlight it, and click on the “Open” button. (Obviously, this was done on a Linux machine, so your Windows dialog box will look different).
  9. You will now notice that the ubuntu-9.10.vdi file is included in the list of virtual machine images. Highlight ubuntu-9.10.vdi and click on the “Select” button.
  10. You will now see that the virtual hard disk that will be used is the existing ubuntu-9.10.vdi file selected in the previous step. Click “Next >” to continue.
  11. This is a review of the settings for this virtual machine. When ready, click the “Finish” button.
  12. You will now see that your vitual machine “UbuntuVM” is available in the main screen of VirtualBox. Click on “Start” to jump into and start using the virtual machine (or Linux guest).
  13. You will see a splash screen that resembles a typical BIOS bootup and then you’ll see Ubuntu loading. Lastly, you’ll find yourself at the Ubuntu login prompt. The pre-loaded username is “ubuntu” and the pre-loaded password is “reverse”. Use this information to login.
  14. This is the screen that you will be greeting with. You may resize the window, make it fullscreen, and move your cursor in and out of the VirtualBox window seamlessly to navigate between your Windows host and Linux guest.
  15. For the first item of business, let’s change the password. To do this, we need the terminal window open, so click on Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal” to open the terminal window.
  16. In the image below, you can see the common “echo” command being used as well as the “passwd” command being used to change the password. After you change your password, you are ready to start using and taking advantage of the Linux guest. Congratulations.
  17. As a final note, there are some utilities that are not available for Windows users and must have a Linux box at hand. For example, the “dd” command to copy a .dd image to an SD card. You can share the hardware of your Windows host machine so that
    the Linux guest machine can use it. Simply right-click on the appropriate USB icon and select the hardware you would like to use from within the Linux guest machine. Here, I am selecting the SD to USB card reader.

Congratulations! You have successfully utilized a pre-built virtual machine image to run a Linux OS on top of your Windows OS. Now, get to learning!

Additional Information/Resources

I would like to follow through on how to copy a .dd image to an SD card by mentioning the required commands. You will probably want to setup a shared folder between the guest and host so that you can access the .dd image that you probably downloaded onto the host machine. Section 4.7 of the user’s manual will assist you in this. When you have access to the .dd image, follow the steps below.

   1.) In the terminal, find the required information about the SD card
       inserted.  Most importantly, the /dev/sd* location.
        * sudo fdisk -l
   2.) Once found, you will want to copy the .dd image to the entire SD card.
        * sudo dd if=theImage.dd of=/dev/sdb
       -- Or, alternatively, you can write an image to a single partition of the
          SD card.
           * sudo dd if=partition2_image.dd of=/dev/sdb2
   3.) Furthur, you can mount the SD card manuall using the following commands
        * sudo mkdir /mnt/sdcard_part1
        * sudo mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt/sdcard_part1

Additional resources are listed below

Notes from the Author

Image locations, website addresses, and programs may change in time so do not follow this guide verbatim too far past the date it was created on. It may be updated once and a while, but it is not guaranteed. Even if things change, the principles and steps shown in this guide will probably remain the same.

I am not responsible for any damages and/or headaches this guide could have caused. I am providing it in hopes that it will be useful to people.

You may be wondering why I chose to use the Ubuntu Linux distribution. Well, I wanted to offer the most user-friendly and popular Linux distribution so that it was easy and quick for people to start and run a VirtualBox guest image with the smallest learning curve possible. Ubuntu has been flaunted and deemed as such by the majority of the Linux community.

VirtualBox version used in this guide: 3.08-r53138

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There's 2 Comments So Far

  • Daniel @ Status Page
    March 18th, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    Thanks for sharing such a detailed guide, some of the images aren’t loading though?

  • [email protected]
    March 21st, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    Thanks for the heads up on the images. Not really sure what happened, but I was able to recover from backup.

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