Windows 10: Install Ubuntu 16 in VirtualBox

This article will describe how to install Ubuntu on Windows 10 using VirtualBox.

Getting started with Ubuntu 16 in VirtualBox

Today I will be installing VirtualBox on Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (the host), then creating a new virtual machine to run Ubuntu 16.04.1 (the guest). For those running Windows 10 Home edition, sorry but this probably won't work for you.

VirtualBox installation

  1. First we need to download VirtualBox from I’ve downloaded VirtualBox 5.1.14

  2. Run the executable and follow the prompts to complete the installation. We don’t really need to change anything for our purposes, and can accept the defaults. 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 would be impacted, like being half-way through downloading a 16GB file that can’t be resumed.

    VirtualBox prompt

Create an Ubuntu virtual machine

  1. Download the latest Ubuntu release from I’ve downloaded Ubuntu 16.04.1
  2. Open VirtualBox and click New

    VirtualBox New

  3. Type the Name for the virtual machine, like Ubuntu 16. 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 New

  4. Next we need to specify how much memory to allocate the virtual machine. According to the Ubuntu system requirements we need 2GB, but I’d recommend more if your host can handle it. Basically 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.

    VirtualBox New

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

  6. Accept the default option VDI for Hard disk file type (or change it if you wish…) and click Next

  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 New

  8. Choose the hard disk size and storage location. 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

  9. The wizard will finish and we are returned to the main VirtualBox window. Click Settings

    VirtualBox New

  10. In the left pane select Storage, then in the right select the CD icon with the word Empty beside it.

    VirtualBox New

  11. Under Attributes click the CD icon (highlighted in the screenshot above) and select Choose Virtual Optical Disk File and browse to the downloaded file ubuntu-16.04.1-desktop-amd64.iso

    VirtualBox New

  12. Click OK to close the Settings dialog window. The virtual machine should now be ready to start.

Install Ubuntu

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

  1. In VirtualBox, select the virtual machine Ubuntu 16 and click Start. VirtualBox will launch a new window with the vm and boot from the iso.

    VirtualBox New

  2. Click Install Ubuntu

    VirtualBox New

  3. Select Download updates while installing Ubuntu and click Continue

  4. On the next screen accept the default of Erase disk and install Ubuntu and click Install Now

    VirtualBox New

  5. You will be prompted with a warning saying the changes will be written to disk. Click Continue

    VirtualBox New

  6. Select your timezone and click Continue

  7. Select your keyboard layout. I accepted the default of English (US) and click Continue

  8. Enter a username and password, then click Continue

    VirtualBox New

  9. The Ubuntu installation may take several minutes to run, so have another coffee.

    VirtualBox New

  10. When the installation is finished you will be prompted to restart. Save and close anything else you may have open and click Restart Now

    VirtualBox New

  11. Now when the vm reboots you may see this message.

    VirtualBox New

    From the menu select Machine > Settings.

    Navigate back into the Storage settings where we previously selected the iso file. If the Ubuntu iso file is still there, remove it. Otherwise close the Settings window and in the vm press Enter to proceed.

  12. If all went well the VM should boot to the Ubuntu login screen. Enter your password to continue.

    VirtualBox New

Ubuntu should run normally in the VirtualBox environment. If everything is far too small, you can adjust the ‘zoom’ by selecting View > Scale Factor > 200%.

Have fun!

VirtualBox New