Windows, OS X, Linux oh my! Run all three together using VirtualBox by Sun Microsystems


Skill level: Intermediate to advanced
Time: 5 minutes (not including download and installation time)

Want to run a second OS on your computer but don't want to go through the hassle of dual booting? What if you could theoretically run as many operating systems as you like on your machine, while still having access to your native desktop and files when you want them? This is the concept behind virtual machines.

A virtual machine is like a "ghost image" of an operating system that is run through a virtual machine manager. Using a virtual machine manager, one can install almost any OS that they desire onto their system and run it side-by-side with their native applications. Because the virtual machine's entire entity is stored on a disk image, there is no need to worry about corrupting your native system.

Three of the most popular virtual machine mangers an the market are VMware, Parallels Desktop, and Sun Microsystems VirtualBox. Parallels and VMware both retail for $79.99 while VirtualBox is a free download. If you want to get your second-favorite OS up and running in as little time as possible, then it's obvious which of the three you should pick.

This how-to will focus on installing Windows 7 64-bit using Sun Microsystems VirtualBox. The path is relatively smooth, but there are a few pitfalls that must be avoided along the way. If you think you have what it takes, please step forward!

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