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How to install Oracle VirtualBox and Windows XP on Linux Mint (Gallery)

Here's a step-by-step guide to get Windows XP running on an Oracle VirtualBox-based virtual machine on Linux Mint
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Installing VirtualBox

You can install Oracle VirtualBox on Linux Mint by downloading the latest version from the VirtualBox Website The easier way of doing it, however, is to use Mint's built-in Software Manager.

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Searching for VirtualBox

The easy way to find VirtualBox's software is to simply start typing its name into the search box on the upper right. Once that's done, you'll want to install virtualbox-nonfree. The "nonfree" here means that the program contains some proprietary code. It still doesn't cost you a thin dime to run. You'll want to install the virtualbox-guest-additions-iso, but you won't need to work with it immediately.  

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Installing VirtualBox with Mint Software Manager

Once you hit the install button, VirtualBox should start installing without any trouble. You may have heard that Linux programs are hard to install. That hasn't been true in ages.

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Installing VirtualBox guest addons

As I said earlier, you'll also want to "install" virtualbox-guest-additions-iso. Actually, all you're really doing is downloading a file. Once you have XP, or another guest operating system installed, you'll use this file to add additional functionality to your new VM.  

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Starting VirtualBox

Once installed, you can find the VirtualBox program from the Linux Mint Menu by starting to type its name into its top window. Then double click on the icon and in a few seconds you'll see... 

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The Main VirtualBox menu

Here, you click on the New icon and you then select the operating system you want to install. In our case, that's Windows XP. Give it a name, XP for example, and then hit the next button.

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Setting the XP VM's memory

This will bring you to the memory-size window. In theory you could run XP with as little as 192MBs. Let's not be silly. I prefer to give XP at least 1GB of RAM. Since my test system has 8GBs, I elected to give XP 2GBs to play with. If you're converting an old XP box to Linux service, you probably won't be fortunate enough to be able to give it that much memory.

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Picking out a virtual drive

Next, you're given a choice of whether to use a new virtual hard drive or use an existing one . Unless you're updating an older XP VM, you're always going to want to create a new drive.  

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Picking out your virtual hard disk type

On this screen, you're presented with a wide range of VM virtual disk formats. Just use the top choice, VDI, here and move on to the next screen.

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Deciding between a static or dynamic virtual hard drive

Your next choice, whether to give the VM a dynamic or static disk, is a more serious question. If you give it a dynamic one, it will never run out of space so long as there's still room on your hard drive, but it will run a little slower. A fixed size means just that, you won't be able to add more disk room easily. On the other hand, it does tend to run a bit faster. Since I'm not likely to be adding new programs to my XP VM I usually elect to go with the faster static drive.

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Setting your virtual hard drive size

After this you need to give the new drive a name. I chose to give mine the shocking original name of XP and give it 20GBs of space to work with.

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Hit one more next button, and ta-da, the bare-bones of your XP VM is almost ready for the XP installation.

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XP virtual machine tuning

Before you start installing XP, let's do some tuning to our new VM. Click on the Settings button on the top left to get to this window.  

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Adding video memory to my XP virtual machine

For example, since I have RAM to spare on this system, I've decide to up my video memory to the maximum possible on my VM: 128MBs. This will give me a much more responsive XP system.

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Sharing directories between Linux and XP

Since I want to make it easy for both my Linux and XP systems to get to the same files I also elect to share an existing Linux directory, my home documents directory, /home/user_name/Documents with my XP machine as its documents directory. Since I don't want to do this manually every time I start up my XP system I tell it to automount the directory.

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Now that I'm done setting up my new XP VM's new home, I'm finally ready to actually install XP. To do this, I go back to VirtualBox's master menu and hit the Start button. This prompts me to tell me where the XP installation disc can be found. In my case it's going to be off my DVD drive.

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I then hit the next button and I'll soon be at a place that anyone who's installed XP over the years will recognize at a glance. The XP Setup screen.

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Just proceed as usual, enter the serial number, watch the files get copied, get a cup of coffee and, in anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, depending on how fast your system is, you'll soon have XP up.

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Hurray! Windows XP running on top of Linux Mint

And, ta-da, here we are, Windows XP running as usual except it's running on top of Linux Mint. Enjoy!

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