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Have you ever wanted to run legacy software that modern Operating Systems no longer support? Have you ever wanted to create a simple test environment to avoid causing harm to your computer? Have you ever wanted to set up your own server, but never had the hardware to implement it?

Creating a Virtual Machine (VM) is the answer to your problems!

What you need:

          1) A computer with a processor that supports Virtualization.
          2) At least 8-20 GB of disk space(depends on what OS you are installing) and 1 GB of RAM.
          3) Installation Media: You must have the CD/DVD or the .iso file.
          4) If you are creating a VM that runs Windows you will need the Product Key.
          5) An internet connection or the VirtualBox installation file.

NOTE: Virtualization does not fully support graphics intensive programs. You may or may not be able to play games or run certain programs using a Virtual Machine.

There are several applications that allow you to create a Virtual Machine. For most users I recommend Oracle VM Virtualbox. This software is free, open source, and multi-platform.


Step 1: Download and Install VirtualBox

Download VirtualBox from https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads. Select the version for your Operating System.

Install VirtualBox. 
   
    Keep all of the default settings.
    You will be prompted to install several Oracle components. Install all of them.


Step 2: Create a Virtual Machine

Start VirtualBox and Click on 'New' in the menu.

Enter the Name of your VM. This is how you will identify it in VirtualBox so name it something meaningful to you.

Select Type and Version. This depends on what OS you are installing. 

Step 3: Allocate Memory

This depends on how much memory you have on your host computer. Never allocate more than half of your available RAM.

If you are creating a Windows VM I recommend at least (1-2 GB)
If you are creating a Linux VM I recommend at least (512 MB)
           
NOTE: Stay within the green target amount.

Step 4: Setup the Hard Drive

If you already have an existing VM that you want to add select "Use an existing Virtual hard drive file."
 
Otherwise select "Create a virtual hard drive now."

   

Step 5: Select Hard Drive File Type

Select 'VDI.' This is usually the best option.
The VM will be stored in a single file on your computer with the .vdi extension.

Step 6: Select Storage on Physical Hard Drive

I recommend you choose "Dynamically allocated." This will save space on your computer.

NOTE: "Fixed size" may have a slightly better performance, but will take up more space on your computer.
  

Step 7: Setup File Location and Size

By default, Virtualbox selects the minimum size you should choose.
Depending on what you want to do with the VM you may want to select a bigger size.

NOTE: This will take up space on your computer. Do not select more space than you are willing to give the VM

You have created a VM. Now you need to install an OS on it.

Step 8: Install the Operating System

Double click on your newly created VM (It will be on the left hand side and will have the name you gave it in Step 2).

Browse to your installation media or .iso file.

Finish installation.

The actual installation process will depend on which OS you are installing.

Step 9: Install Guest Additions

Guest additions add more functionality to your VM, including the option to make the VM fullscreen.

NOTE: You must install guest additions in safe mode (Windows) to enable 2D and 3D acceleration.

Boot in Safe Mode.
Instructions for Windows XP

When you have booted in Safe Mode, click Devices --> Install Guest Additions

Follow the Prompts and Install. 

Shutdown the VM.

Step 10: Update Settings for 2D and 3D Acceleration

Go to the Display settings for your VM.

Check both 2D and 3D acceleration.

Increase Video Memory (I recommend 128 MB)

Start your VM.

Congratulations. You now have a functional Virtual Machine.

NOTE: Right Ctrl-F will toggle between Fullscreen and Windowed.
<p>Being you booted in safe mode does that mean that you will not have access to internet etc in your virtual machine, or is that just for the initial install?</p>
If you boot in safe mode you will not have internet access until you reboot normally.<br><br>You can also choose to boot in Safe Mode with Networking. This will allow you to have internet access. <br><br>The point of safe mode is to limit the OS to essential drivers and files to debug problems. You don't want to run safe mode normally. <br><br>For some reason, Virtualbox can't properly install some drivers unless you are in safe mode. However, after you install the drivers in safe mode you can return the boot process to normal and everything should work fine..

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