Windows 10: Install Ubuntu 18 in VirtualBox

Getting started with Ubuntu 18 in VirtualBox

This article will step through how to install Ubuntu on Windows 10 using VirtualBox. For this turotial I’ll be using Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (the host) and explain how to run Ubuntu 18.04.1 (the guest) as a virtual machine. Also covered are tips on configuring the display settings and installing VirtualBox Guest Additions.

VirtualBox is a free and open-source virtualization platform by Oracle, and is popular for running a variety of virtual machines.

Step 1: VirtualBox installation

If you already have a working installation of VirtualBox you may skip this section.

  1. First, download VirtualBox from https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads. I’ve downloaded VirtualBox 6.0.4

  2. Run the executable and follow the prompts to complete the installation wizard.

    VirtualBox prompt

    Before completing the wizard you will get a warning that the network connection will temporarily be interrupted, so make sure you’re not doing anything that may be impacted (like being half-way through downloading a 16GB file that can’t be resumed).

Step 2: Create a new Ubuntu virtual machine

I’ll be installing the latest LTS (Long-term support) version of Ubuntu which at the time of writing is Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS.

  1. Download the latest Ubuntu release from https://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop.

  2. Open VirtualBox and click New

    VirtualBox prompt

  3. Enter the Name for the virtual machine, like Ubuntu 18. VirtualBox will try to predict the Type and Version based on the name you enter. Otherwise, select:

    • Type: Linux
    • Version: Ubuntu (64-bit)

    and click Next.

    VirtualBox prompt

  4. Now you need to specify how much memory to allocate the virtual machine. According to the Ubuntu system requirements we need at least 2GB, but I’d recommend more if your host can handle it. The higher you can set the memory without severly impacting your host machine, the better the performance of the guest machine. If you’re not sure, stick with 2GB.

    Set the memory to 2048 MB (2 GB) and click Next.

    VirtualBox prompt

  5. On the Hard disk screen, select Create a virtual hard disk now and click Create

    VirtualBox prompt

  6. On the Hard disk file type screen, accept the default option VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image) (or change it if you wish…) and click Next

    VirtualBox prompt

  7. Next we are prompted for Storage on physical hard disk. The options are Dynamically allocated and Fixed size. We’ll use the default of Dynamically allocated. Click Next.

    VirtualBox prompt

  8. Enter the hard disk name and size. The Ubuntu system requirements recommend 25GB. Remember, we choose Dynamically allocated as our storage option in the last step, so we won’t consume all this disk space immediately. Rather, VirtualBox will allocate it as required, up to the maximum 25GB we specified. Click Create

    VirtualBox prompt

Step 3: Configure the virtual machine settings

  1. You should be back on the main VirtualBox screen now. Ensure the Ubuntu 18 virtual machine is selected then hit Settings.

    VirtualBox prompt

  2. In the left pane select Storage, then in the right pane under Controller: IDE select the CD icon with the word Empty beside it.

    VirtualBox prompt

  3. In the far right pane under Attributes click the CD icon (highlighted in the screenshot below) and select Choose Virtual Optical Disk File…

  4. Browse to the downloaded file ubuntu-18.04.1-desktop-amd64.iso, select it, and click Open.

    VirtualBox prompt

  5. Click OK to close the Settings dialog window. The virtual machine is now ready to start.

Step 4: Install Ubuntu 18

In VirtualBox your VM should be showing as Powered Off, and the optical drive configured to point to the Ubuntu ISO file.

  1. In VirtualBox, select the virtual machine Ubuntu 18 and click Start.

    VirtualBox prompt

    VirtualBox will launch a new window with the vm and boot from the iso.

  2. It may take a few minutes for Ubuntu to load. When prompted, click Install Ubuntu

    VirtualBox prompt

  3. Select your keyboard layout (or accept the defaults) and click Continue.

  4. Use the default options Normal installation and Download updates while installing Ubuntu, then click Continue

    VirtualBox prompt

  5. Accept the default option Erase disk and install Ubuntu, then click Install Now

    VirtualBox prompt

  6. You will be prompted with a warning that the changes will be written to disk. Click Continue

    VirtualBox prompt

    This step may take a few minutes to complete.

  7. Select your timezone and click Continue

  8. Enter a your name, computer name, username and password, then click Continue

    VirtualBox prompt

  9. The Ubuntu installation will take several minutes to complete, so have another coffee.

    VirtualBox prompt

  10. After the installation is finished you will be prompted to restart the VM. Click Restart Now

    VirtualBox prompt

  11. When the vm reboots you may see this message:

    VirtualBox New

    From the menu select Machine > Settings.

    On the right side, select Storage to show the screen where we previously selected the iso file. If the Ubuntu iso file is still there, remove it. Otherwise close the Settings window, then in the VM press Enter to finish booting.

  12. If all went well the VM should boot to the Ubuntu login screen. Select your user and enter the password to login.

    VirtualBox prompt

  13. As a final step, you should apply any updates. For these steps, see the article How to check for updates in Ubuntu 18 Desktop.

You have now completed the install of Ubuntu 18 running in VirtualBox on Windows 10.

Step 5: Display settings

By default the VM will only have 16 MB video memory. I have found this is not enough, especially once VirtualBox Guest Additions are installed. I recommend changing this to 128 MB if your host system can handle it.

  1. Ensure the virtual machine is not running.

  2. In VirtualBox, select the virtual machine Ubuntu 18 and click Settings.

    VirtualBox settings

  3. In the left pane select Display.

  4. Adjust the Video Memory to 128 MB.

    VirtualBox video memory

  5. Click OK to save the changes.

Install Guest Additions

Finally, if you wish to install the VirtualBox Guest Additions in Ubuntu 18, please see this article for instructions.