Virtualization with VirtualBox – Part 2

In this part of my series of articles about VirtualBox we want to configure out newly created system. In part one we created the virtual machine and then installed the operating system. Now we want to configure it to our efforts.

Establish you virtual system

We can configure our newly created machine for our need. For this I personally suggest the following:

  1. base setup
    For this step we install and configure global needed things. For example programs that are used by all users.
  2. adjust the base system to the users needs
    The configured base system can be adjusted for different needs. So you can create different machines for different users and different work environments.

Base setup

The example of part one was an installation of Windows XP. You can do the following steps also for every other operation system (not only for Microsoft systems).

  1. system updates
    This is the most important step. The first thing you should do is to use the system built in update service. The update program may reboot your machine several times. After this step you have the current stable system version. Now you should be save of many security leaks that are fixed. For our Windows XP we need Service pack 3. Now we have also maximum performance and security.
  2. general programs
    The next thing is to install all current versions of programs that each user may need. For out Windows this may be a anti virus program and some programs like browser, a zip program and maybe something to play media.
  3. VirutalBox integration
    VirtualBox offers an integration. This integrates the host system fluently with our new guest system. For this we need to install Guest Additions (you can find it under devices->install guest additions). For this a virtual CD rom will be mounted. So you only have to install the additions from you cd drive. With the help of the Guest Additions you can share directories with your host and also use copy and past between them.
Now we are ready an we can start our work? NO!!!! At this point we shut down our machine. Nothing is as frustrating as destroying our new system with some mistake at the configuration. And I can tell you, this happens quit often with Windows systems… To be safe,we clone our newly created machine. You can do this with a right click on the machine. The clone program makes a 1:1 copy of our system. That means for a 10 GB system we need 10 GB for our clone. There is also an option to create a belay point, but the clone variant is more safe. I personally think that this is a very good option, because if someone needs a new Windows XP System to work or to test something you can easily man another clone. I have always an external drive with some basic virtual machines of different operating system types.

Configure you system

As told before, there is the option to clone a system. The ideal solution is to clone a machine every time we need a new test environment or a different kind of configuration. Personally I create one system for development and another one for audio and video editing.

For my development system I have installed some browsers (IE 8, IE 9, Firefox, Safari, Opera and Chrome). And some useful IDEs that I am using on Windows (Netbeans, Eclipse and Visual Studio).  However, you can also install other programs of your wishes.

A special topic are games. I would create a new machine only for games, but sadly VirtualBox has some limits. There exists experimental emulations of your graphic card, but for actual top seller games they are not good enough. For this I made good experience with Parallels Desktops. If your virtual hard disk has the right format, you can use it also with that!


The best thing on virtualization is, that you do not have to shut your system down. VirtualBox allows you to save the current state of your machine and to continue from that. This is very interesting. I have tested it during an installation of a program. The installation process continues without any problems. So if you installation takes many hours, you can do it whenever you have some time left!

Part 3 is about configure our virtual machine to get maximum performance.

Part 1 | Part 3

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