How to install Ubuntu 21.04 in VirtualBox and test it

Whether out of simple curiosity or for work reasons, sometimes we find ourselves needing to install another operating system without altering the one we use. For that there are programs with which you can create a virtual machine inside your PC and in this article we are going to explain it step by step how to install Ubuntu 21.04 in VirtualBox.

What is Ubuntu and what is VirtualBox?

Linux is a free software and open source operating system. Ubuntu is a distribution (distro) of Linux based on Debian (very popular). Ubuntu is geared towards ease of use, with plenty of support from help channels and forums.

VirtualBox is a software developed by Oracle to make virtual spaces on your PC that serve to install and use other systems without altering the original operating system. It is very easy to use and in this particular case we are going to install Linux Ubuntu 21.04 in VirtualBox, pay attention.

PC requirements to install Ubuntu 21.04 in VirtualBox

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To install Ubuntu 21.04 in VirtualBox you must meet the following requirements:

  • 4 GB RAM memory for Windows 7.
  • 8 GB RAM memory for Windows 8, 10 and 11.
  • Free hard disk space of at least 100 GB.
  • Intel or AMD processor with more than two cores with virtualization support.

If you meet all this there is a very important requirement and that is enable processor virtualization features in BIOS, is done as follows:

  • To enter the BIOS you must restart the PC and when it turns on again repeatedly press the Esc, F2, F8, F12 or DEL key, that depends on the PC you have.
  • Already in the BIOS look for «Intel Virtualization Technology», «SVM Mode» or something similar and activate it.
  • Save and exit the BIOS, the common thing is the F10 key, but we repeat, it depends on the PC.

Download and install Ubuntu 21.04 and VirtualBox

The first thing is to download the latest version of Ubuntu is 21.04, it is done from the official page by pressing the following button:

Download Linux Ubuntu 21.04

Press the button that says 21.04 and the download will start. While Ubuntu is downloading you will also download VirtualBox and the Extension Pack through this button:

Download VirtualBox

  • Once you have downloaded VirtualBox, look for it in the Downloads folder and double click on it. By clicking on «Next» the folder that you are going to create and what you are going to install will appear, we recommend that you leave it as it is.
  • Then it appears for you to choose to create shortcuts. We are going to leave selected “Create shortcut on the desktop” that creates the icon on the desktop and “Register file associations”. If you want another of the accesses that they offer you, you can leave it selected.
  • You click on the “Install” button, it does the process and the confirmation appears. Since we are going to open VirtualBox at once to install Ubuntu, leave the “Start Oracle VM VirtualBox…” box selected and select “Finish”.
  • Then you double-click the Extension Pack (which should also be in Downloads) and install it, there are no more complications.

Create a virtual space in VirtualBox to install Ubuntu

We are going to create a virtual space on your PC with VirtualBox which will work as a separate machine and is done like this:

  • With the VirtualBox open select «New». A window then opens where we will identify that space/virtual machine in the “Name” section, which is very important so that you can clearly identify if you intend to open other virtual machines.
  • We will leave the “Machine folder” by default, but if you want a specific folder you can do it. Once you put the name “Ubuntu” the “Type: Linux” and the “Version: Ubuntu (64-bit)” automatically appear. Make sure you do it like this, if you don’t select those parameters, because that’s what you’re going to install. Once everything is done, press «Next».
  • In the next step you will choose the size of the RAM that VirtualBox will use. The minimum is 1024 MB and it is recommended not to put less than 2000 MB (2 GB). We are going to put 3046 MB (3 GB) because we want it to work comfortably, but this is to your liking and needs. After pressing «Next» we enter to choose the hard disk, where we are going to create a virtual hard disk and click on «Create»
  • The installation will then ask you what type of hard drive file you want. In our case we will be using Ubuntu casually for some applications, tests and games, so we are going to select “VDI”. If you are thinking of deeper uses, it is up to you to choose the type of hard disk file that suits you.
  • In the next window it will allow you to choose the type of storage. The differences between «Dynamic Reserved» and «Fixed Size» are very well explained in the window. For purposes of this installation we recommend «Dynamic Reserved» and prevent that virtual hard drive from occupying unnecessary space.
  • It then asks you for the size you want for that virtual hard drive. Ubuntu recommends 25 GB and VirtualBox 10 GB. We are going to place 30 GB and it is more than enough, but remember that this depends on the use that you are going to give to your virtual machine. If you’re going to be using Ubuntu to store a lot of stuff and you have a physical hard drive with good memory capacity, consider a larger virtual hard drive size.
  • When you press the «Create» button you will see the VirtualBox window with the virtual space created and with all the characteristics that we have already selected and others of your PC.

How to install Ubuntu 21.04 in VirtualBox

We are going to finish the process by installing Ubuntu 21.04 in VirtualBox, follow these steps:

  • Once inside VirtualBox with the virtual machine created, we are going to press the “Configuration” button. Enter the «Storage» section.
  • Once there, click where it says “Empty” below where it says “Controller: IDE”. We go to the upper right of the window and click on the light blue disk that displays a sub-menu, where you are going to select the downloaded Ubuntu file that ends in «.iso» that must be in the Downloads folder.
  • When you close the “Settings” window, you should already have a green arrow called “Start” activated. If you do not have it activated, there is a problem: either you did not choose the folder where the Ubuntu installation file «.iso» is located or you have not activated the option in the BIOS of your PC so that the machine accepts virtualization, look above at the requirements how to do it
  • When you press “Start” a black window will appear with a list where Ubuntu is selected, simply press Enter. The Ubuntu installation will begin, with a system check. A screen appears where you select Spanish as the language and offers you to try or install Ubuntu. To make sure everything is working we are going to test it first and then install it, so you are going to press “Try Ubuntu”. It will open the Ubuntu desktop as if it were installed. Everything works fine but it is not installed yet.
  • Before continuing we are going to modify the configuration of the screen, so that the windows are not cut in the installation. In the upper right corner we open “Settings”, select “Monitors” and choose the screen resolution. We select 1440X900 which opens a large window with no scroll bars, but this may vary depending on the features of your PC, choose the one that suits you. Once this is done, click the “Install Ubuntu” icon on the desktop, choose the Spanish language, select the Spanish keyboard, “Normal installation” and the two boxes in “Other options”.
  • It may be that the resolution of the screen becomes smaller again and what you should do is (without leaving the installation) go back into settings in the upper right corner and put it back to 1440X900 or the one you chose. Continuing with the installation, an installation type window will appear. There you are going to leave “Erase disk and install Ubuntu” selected, which will not actually erase anything from your physical hard drive, because remember that it is a dynamic virtual disk that you have created before. You are going to press “Install Now”.
  • Then a screen will appear for you to select where you are. Next, it will ask you to enter your data. You have to enter a password, but if you select «Login automatically» you will not be prompted for a password to enter Ubuntu once it is installed. We click on “Continue”.
  • Done, Ubuntu will finish upgrading and complete the installation. It may ask you to update or activate some apps and features; that will depend on you.

This is all about installing Ubuntu 21.04 in VirtualBox. There are other ways to use Linux on a PC, such as the WSL update, the new WSLg, aimed at developers and that can now run a complete distro graphically.


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