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The Beginner’s Guide to Creating Virtual Machines with VirtualBox [How-to]

11 Apr/09

Virtual machines can seem juuuuust a bit too geeky for most otherwise computer-friendly people. That’s sad, because it’s an easy, free way to try or use a separate OS without messing with your hard drive. What’s virtualization? Why get that nerdy? Virtualization is a whole computer concept unto itself, at least on the server/enterprise/big-fancy-corporate level. For home users, talk about “virtual machines” generally refers to x86 virtualization . Basically, it’s software that allows an entire operating system (the “guest”) to run on another OS (the “Host”), whether in a container window, or full-screen, or in what’s sometimes called a “seamless” mode, where just one application is run from the “guest” Why would you want to run a virtual machine on your computer? Plenty of reasons: You like using one OS, but need just an app or two from another running in their natural environments—Office or Photoshop in Windows (nine times out of 10), a light-on-resources game, or maybe even some uber-cool Linux app. You want to try out some new software, but would rather not chance it mucking up the pretty decent system you’ve got right now. Web sites that don’t play nice with the operating system you’re running (we’re looking at you, almost every streaming site except Hulu and YouTube). You’re intrigued at the idea of trying out a Linux desktop, but the word “partitioning” doesn’t sound like how you want to spend a Saturday afternoon.


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