Do you have a Windows PC but need to create a virtual machine for development and testing applications, or just want to try a different operating system? If you have a computer with large enough resources and virtualization capabilities (Intel VT-x or AMD-v), then why not install VirtualBox on Windows?
VirtualBox is free virtualization software that allows you to run different guest operating systems on your computer. You can also install VirtualBox on Windows 10, 11, or Linux hosts! But in this post, we’ll install VirtualBox on Windows 11 and create a new virtual machine.
Prepare the Host
First, you must ensure that essential prerequisites are in place before attempting to install VirtualBox on Windows 11.
Check the Hardware Virtualization Status
One, you must confirm that the virtualization feature is enabled in your computer’s firmware. Don’t worry; you don’t have to restart your computer into BIOS to check this setting. You only need to run this command in PowerShell.
Get-ComputerInfo -Property HyperVRequirementVirtualizationFirmwareEnabled
If the HyperVRequirementVirtualizationFirmwareEnabled value is True, then you’re all set.
But if the HyperVRequirementVirtualizationFirmwareEnabled is false, you will have to enable your CPU’s virtualization feature (VT-x or AMD-v) in your computer’s BIOS. Refer to your computer’s documentation on how to enable virtualization in BIOS.
Turn Off the Hypervisor
You cannot use another virtualization solution like VirtualBox on the same that has Hyper-V installed and enabled. Hyper-V is typically not installed on a computer out-of-the-box. But if it is, here’s how you can turn off the hypervisor without uninstalling Hyper-V.
bcdedit /set hypervisorlaunchtype off
Restart the computer for this new boot configuration change to take effect.
Note. Should you need to re-enable the hypervisor for Hyper-V, the command is bcdedit /set hypervisorlaunchtype auto.
Your computer is now ready for VirtualBox for Windows 11.
Install VirtualBox on Windows 11
Note. The following steps also apply when you install VirtualBox on Windows 10.
First, let’s download the VirtualBox installer. Open this URL in your web browser → *https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads* and look for the download link for Windows hosts.
After downloading, open the file to start the installation. Click Next on the Welcome page.
On the Custom Setup page, click Browse and specify the location if you want to install VirtualBox to a custom location. Otherwise, leave the default settings and click Next.
On the next page, uncheck the options you don’t want the installer to configure except for the Register file associations. Otherwise, click Next to confirm your choices and continue.
You’ll get a warning message saying the installation process may reset the computer’s network connection momentarily while it configures the VirtualBox networking feature. Click Yes to confirm.
Lastly, click Yes to continue the installation.
Wait for the installation to complete.
Finally, leave the Start Oracle VM VirtualBox after installation box and click Finish.
You’ve now installed Oracle VM VirtualBox on Windows. The screenshot below shows the main VirtualBox Manager interface.
Install the Extension Pack
The Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack extends VirtualBox VM features. You must download and install the extension pack to take advantage of features like RDP, disk encryption, and USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 devices.
Back to the VirtualBox downloads page, look for the ****Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack**** section, and click the link for All supported platforms.
Locate the extension pack file you downloaded and double-click on it.
Doing so will automatically open the extension pack in the VirtualBox manager window. Click Install at the prompt to install the extension pack.
Scroll to the bottom of the VirtualBox License and click I agree.
At the end of the installation, click Close.
On the VirtualBox manager, click File → Preferences → Extensions. Confirm that the Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack is listed under the Extension Packages.
Create a VM in VirtualBox for Windows 11 Host
Once you’ve installed VirtualBox, you can create a new virtual machine for your preferred operating system. In this example, we’ll create a Linux VM. Note that you can also create a Linux VM in Windows 10 using these instructions.
First, ensure you have the ISO file for the Linux distro you plan to install. In this case, the Debian DVD ISO file will be used. You can download the ISO from this link if you don’t have one yet.
Now to create the VM, click New on the VirtualBox manager.
On the pop-up window, do the following:
- Type the name of the virtual machine. This example uses debianpc as the VM name.
- Specify the path to where to store the VM and related files. The default path is %userprofile%\VirtualBox VMs. You can leave the default path or customize it if you want to store the VM in a different folder or drive.
- Choose the type of operating system you’re installing. For example, we’ll choose Linux as the OS type for Debian.
- Choose the version of the operating system to install. In this example, the version is Debian (64-bit).
- Click Next.
Next, specify the memory size. You can accept the default recommended memory size or adjust it if you wish. Click Next after setting the memory size.
Select Create a virtual hard disk now and click Create.
Choose VDI as the hard disk file type, and click Next.
Note. Choosing VDI means that you can only use the virtual hard disk in VirtualBox. You can choose VHD and VMDK if you plan to use the same virtual hard disk with Hyper-V and VMWare, respectively.
Next, choose Dynamically allocated. This option means that the virtual hard disk file itself will start with the smallest file size possible and will only grow dynamically as the data inside the virtual hard disk grows.
Specify a custom path for the virtual hard disk file or leave the default. Adjust the virtual hard disk size to your requirement, and click Create.
You’ve successfully created a Linux VM in VirtualBox on Windows 11.
Install the Guest Operating System
The VM has been created but does not have an operating system yet, so let’s install one.
Click Settings to bring up the VM settings window.
Click Storage and the virtual optical drive with the label Empty. Click the CD icon drop-down menu → Choose a disk file.
Locate and select the ISO file and click Open.
You’ll notice that the virtual optical drive is no longer empty. Click OK to save the changes.
Back on the VirtualBox manager, click Start to power on the VM.
And now, the VM has successfully booted to the ISO media. You can now install the operating system as you usually would on a physical computer.
And just like that, you’ve installed a functional Debian guest OS in VirtualBox on Windows 11.
As you’ve seen, VirtualBox lets you install a Linux VM on Windows 10 or Windows 11. But don’t stop there. You can also install other OSes, like a VirtualBox Windows 11 VM. Perhaps you’d like to have a sandbox Ubuntu VM on Windows 10?
You can do all that when you install VirtualBox on Windows. Good luck!
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