There are times that I would love to try writing a virus to see if it would work, but more so, what it would do. But I don’t dare trying it on my own or anybody else’s computer out of fear that it would screw something up, this is where virtual machines (VMs) come in. If corrupt the computer beyond repair within the VM, its host (your actual computer) is fine. To ‘repair’ the VM you would have to the virtual equivalent of a uninstall and clean install, we’ll talk more on this soon.
The virtual playground, my favorite
In this post I talk about the basics of a virtual machine and setting one up.
What are they?
To put it simply, a virtual machine is a computer inside a computer. It is independent from the host machine for the most part, but not entirely.
How do they work?
The virtual machine requires system resources from the host machine such as RAM, the CPU, and the hard drive. When you first set your VM up, you will be asked how much RAM and hard drive space you want to allow the virtual machine. Depending on what VM I’m using, I’ll give it 20GBs (Linux) – 40GBs (Windows) for hard drive space and usually 1024MB (1GB) for RAM.
Great, so how do I set one up?
First off, you need a program that enables your computer to run a VM. The program that I use is VMware Player since it is free and relatively easy to use. If you don’t want free and you want more bang for your buck, then check out VMware Workstation.
You can check it out here: VMware Workstation
Take a look at VMware Player here
There is also VirtualBox, it too is free. I haven’t used it myself because I try to stick with what I know, I also don’t like installing and uninstalling a bunch of software.
Once you have installed such a program, you will need to get a copy of whichever OS you want to have as a VM. You could use an installation disc for a current or previous OS that you already have, or you could use an .ISO for the VM. An .ISO is basically the image of an OS. The easiest way to get an .ISO is to download it.
Downloading it is simple if you know where to get one. I get my .ISOs of Windows XP, Windows 7, and Windows 8 from a deal that my college has made with Microsoft. If you have ever heard of Microsoft’s Dreamspark program, it is much like that but with much more that you can get from it. If you are a college student, you should ask around your school, particularly the instructors who teach IT.
Or if you don’t care about using a Windows OS for a VM, you can download a Linux/Ubuntu OS for free. There are many flavors of Linux/Ubuntu: Ubuntu; Fedora; Red Hat; Zorin OS (my favorite); Linux Mint; and many others that escape me. I currently have Zorin OS 6 installed as a VM so I can play around with it and get used to it without having to commit to it.
This is the beauty of a VM; you can use it to test other Operating Systems and applications. Finding these Operating Systems is as easy as searching for them at Google.com, your preferred search engine, or by typing their URL in the address bar.
Ubuntu = ubuntu.com
Fedora = fedoraproject.org
Red Hat = redhat.com
Zorin OS = zorin-os.com
Linux Mint = linuxmint.com
Once you have the .ISO, open your chosen program find the option to create a new virtual machine. Then follow the steps on-screen, they should be pretty easy. If not, you can always find a video on Youtube about it. After setting it up, the VM will load and you’re now in business.
If you already use a virtual machine, what is your favorite program?
Till next time.
Thanks for visiting!