Free VirtualBox Images (Part 2) - Create your own VirtualBox image

6/6/2012 6:37:41 PM

Other Images

The images on the above site are but the tip of the iceberg. If you hunt around long enough you can find some really good little gems of free VirtualBox images. A great site, which contains loads of Linux images for VirtualBox is, with almost every popular distro you can think of being included in its lists. However, we do have a few problems with this site, number one being it's not updated as much we'd like, and a lot of the older images are unavailable on the servers. Secondly, quite a few of the downloads available use torrent sites to host their images, which is perfectly innocent, but many ISPs don't like their users visiting torrent sites, plus the site also uses a cloud server to access some of the images. In this case it's SugarSync, and it may require you to sign up for a free account before allowing access to one or two of the images. Also, it can sometimes be a little confusing as what to download, with quite a few images displayed in one go. However, providing you use discretion when visiting torrent sites and if you read through the - sometimes - handy comments before committing to a download, then you should generally be okay.

Description: Description: The

The collections come as VDIs (Virtual Disk Images) within a compressed archive, and can be added to VirtualBox in the same manner as before.

Create your own VirtualBox image

Description: Description: Create your own VirtualBox image

Let's now look at how to create your own portable/ downloadable VirtualBox image to share with the rest of the world. First, pick a distro you want to show off; in our case we're going for SliTaz, a tiny Linux distro that we currently quite like. Download the .iso for the distro from GFCLPS. Next, open up VirtualBox and click on the 'New' icon. Enter a name for the OS, and as before, choose Linux for the operating system and either 'Linux 2.6', or 'Other Linux' for the version, but it may automatically sort out a name for you. Next, choose the amount of RAM you want to allocate for this image and click 'Next'. In the Virtual Hard Disk screen, click on 'Create New Hard Disk', then 'Next'. In the following window, select 'VDI' (you can choose others, but we'll stick with a VDI for now) and click 'Next'. For the next step in the process we would recommend selecting a fixed size, as this is going to be a transportable VDI and some users may not want the image to be dynamically expanding, but of course it's up to you. When you're ready, click 'Next'. The default fixed size is 8GB, which isn't very portable. Although it won't fill it, there's a chance that any temp files may populate the free space without you knowing. Since SliTaz comes as a 30MB .iso, we think something along the lines of a 140MB fixed disk size would be more than enough for someone to expand into, without killing their bandwidth when it comes downloading it. Before you click 'Next', click on the file icon for the Location section, and find an area on the drive where you can be certain you'll remember - it just makes finding the finished VDI a lot easier to find. Finally, create the new virtual disk by clicking on 'Create'.

When the new virtual disk is ready, click on the Start icon to power it up and, using the First Run Wizard, locate the downloaded .iso, then click 'Next', followed by 'Start'. Go through the standard installation of the distro (SliTaz is a basic affair, but you'll have to sort out your partitions first with Gparted) and install it onto the newly created virtual drive. When all that's done and dusted, boot it back up to make sure everything is running the way you want. If all is okay, shut down the image and locate the folder where the virtual disk is housed. Copy this to a separate location, along with the definitions file, a .vbox file, which can be found in 'c:\ users\<username>\VirtualBox VMsVcname of the VitualBox image>' for Windows, or '/home/user/.virtualbox/' for Linux users (it's a hidden file, so you'll have to enable the correct view to see it). You should now have a folder called SliTaz, or whatever you decide to call it, which can be compressed and shared on the Internet with anyone who's interested. All the end user has to do is follow the routine we went over before -by adding a new virtual disk and pointing it at the downloaded VDI - and they can enjoy the virtual machine that you created.

Description: Description: Enjoy different OSs within OS X, Windows or Linux

Enjoy different OSs within OS X, Windows or Linux

Microsoft Images

Yes, Microsoft used to provide some VHD images, which were perfectly mountable within VirtualBox. Unfortunately, since the pre-release of the testing versions of Windows 8, things have changed somewhat. Instead of now having a downloadable Windows 7 Professional VHD, it's done away with such things and now only display the Windows 8 server VHD for use in Hyper-V. Oh well.

Description: Description:  Microsoft Windows 7 VHD

Microsoft Windows 7 VHD

Share Your VDI

I'm sure many of you already have some kind of cloud-based account that you can share a section of publically? If not, then have a hunt around. The aforementioned SugarSync is pretty good and can offer free 5GB of space. When you get some online storage sorted, why not upload your VDI and drop a link in either the Micro Mart forum, or the Facebook page and let the rest of the Micro Mart reading population have a look - just don't forget to include any usernames or passwords you created when you set up the virtual machine. We could create a wealth of custom-built images for other forumites to try out. What do you say? And have fun; that's why we mess around with computers, after all.

Be safe

A sudden thought crossed our minds when we were writing this: what if you download an image that's laden with viruses and nasties? Well, to be sure that it's safe, double-check the site you're downloading from (one of the reasons we were originally worried about a torrent site). If it looks iffy, then it's best to leave it well alone. Also, if you do load up a VDI that contains something nasty, then it shouldn't really infect your PC, as the image is run in a virtual machine that's not directly connected to your network. Of course, there's always the chance that something might come across, so please make sure that your anti-virus is up to date. If you do decide to promote a VDI in the forum, please label that it's clean, tested and so on, and if necessary install an AV along with the image and let everyone know.

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