How to have Linux on Windows

Many people are interested in using Linux, but are scared of installing it alongside Windows. What if your trusty XP/Vista/7 got corrupted? What if you lost all your data! This is why this blog entry will explain a failsafe way to install Linux without wrecking your computer.
NOTE: For your convenience, I'm in the process of making a video in which I show you how to accomplish all the steps below.

How will this work?

Ok, you might be wondering: "How are you supposed to install Linux on your computer without altering it? It's impossible!". Indeed, this is an excellent question. What we will use is a type of program called a computer "emulator". What this does is to create a virtual computer that is contained inside a file. Ok, this is a bit complicated, I know. Basically, an emulator will imitate a computer, and store everything you put on this virtual computer in a large file. You will only be able to use this file within the emulator, and if you accidentally damage your virtualcomputer, there will be no impact on your "real" computer. Magnificent eh?

What you will need?

  • First thing you will need is the emulator software. Many great ones exist, but I recommend VirtualBox. It's free, and works on every mainstream version of Windows, Mac and Linux.
  • Now, you need the version of Linux you want to install. Lots of FANTASTIC ones are available, but in this tutorial I'll stick to one of the most popular: Ubuntu. To download Ubuntu, go to their website at, and select the version you want to download.I recommend the "Desktop" edition. . Make sure you select the "I would like to create a CD" button, even if you don't have a CD drive. You'll notice that it's quite a large download, just under 700 megabytes. The file you'll have downloaded should be in a *.iso format, which mean that it contains optical drive data (CD, DVD and Blu-ray).

Setting up your machine

Open VirtualBox and click on the "New" button. A wizard will open up, guiding you to create a virtual machine. In the name box, I recommend you enter something relevant like "Linux". As for the choice of operating system, well, it's quite obvious eh? Do note that you will want to select the correct OS version: in this case Ubuntu.
Next is the RAM settings. I recommend you give about half of your unused ram. The problem with using more ram is that, even though yourvirtual computer will be quicker, your real one will slow down, thus overall seeming slower.
Finally, after the ram, you need to create the virtual hard disk. This is the file that will contain your entire virtual computer. So click next, and follow the wizard. Once you`re finished, click the finish button.

Ok, now that you have a virtual machine set up, the only thing left to do is to tell it to boot from the Linux CD image that we downloaded previously. So select your machine and click "settings". In the left panels, select on the "storage" tab. In the storage tree, click on the CD image under the "IDE Controller" item. On the right, under attributes, click the virtual media manager, next to "CD/DVD Devices".
The virtual media manager will open up. Select the "CD/DVD Images" and click the add button. A file dialog will appear, prompting you to select a CD/DVD image. Choose the one we downloaded previously and click open, and accept your settings.
That's it! Now, you should see the "Start" button become green, and you're ready to go! Click the button to start the machine, and get ready to install Linux on your "computer"!