Virtual Box (Not Virtual PC)
Virtual Box provides the same functionality as Virtual PC and is free to download from https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads. Virtual Box is provided by Oracle so it is a fairly trustworthy source.
Virtual Box basically gives you the ability to run virtual computers or a machine within a machine. You simply create a virtual machine, specify a virtual hard drive (which is basically a file on your hard drive) and then you can install any operating system you choose.
The first screen is just a welcome screen.
Clicking next takes you to a screen where you can choose which parts of VirtualBox you wish to install.
Unless you are limited by space I would recommend accepting the default options and choosing next.
To run it either click the quick launch icon, double click the icon on the desktop or click the start button and type virtualbox into the search box.
There is a menu at the top and under that a bar with icons.
The left pane shows a list of virtual machines (Of which there should be none as you won't have installed any yet).
The right pane gives details about selected virtual machines.
The screen to the right appears. Type the name Ubuntu into the name box.
This automatically sets the type to Linux and version to Ubuntu.
If you were installing other versions of Linux you would obviously choose a different version. Do not worry if the particular distro you want to use does not appear, just pick the version that is closest. All this does really is predict the memory usage and disk space required on subsequent screens.
Based on the selection of Ubuntu on the previous screen Virtual Box has suggested using 512mb of ram. In reality I would at least double that if at all possible.
Remember not to allocate all your memory to the virtual machine as your computer will need memory for running other applications and services.
Select create a virtual hard drive and click create.
Generally I accept the default option and I won't pretend that I have even read up on the other options because I haven't.
The default option has always served me well.
You can either allocate a fixed amount or dynamically add space when it is required.
If you dynamically add space then you optimally only use space as you require it whereas setting a fixed size takes a chunk of space and preallocates it.
If you dynamically add space then every time you install software within Ubuntu it will take longer to install because space has to be first allocated to the virtual hard drive and then the installation can take place.
If you choose a fixed size then because the space is pre-allocated you will only have to wait for the time for the application to install.
If you have a large enough hard drive I would recommend choosing a fixed size and make it big enough to store an operating system and other files.
The installer will have made a guess at the minimum space required to install Ubuntu.
If you can I would recommend increasing the space as 8gb isn't all that much.
Again be careful not to allocate all your remaining disk space.
If you are going to install Ubuntu from a CD drive insert the CD now. If you are going to install Ubuntu from an image (ISO) then simply start the virtual machine by double clicking on it.
I would click the "Do not show this message again" checkbox and click ok.
If you are installing from an image click the folder icon and find the ISO file to install.
Click start to continue.
If you just wanted to try the live media then you probably shouldn't have followed this article at this stage as you can just burn the ISO to a CD or USB drive and reboot your computer to use Ubuntu in live mode.
Click on install Ubuntu to continue.
Do not worry, your Windows is safe. Remember this is a virtual machine with a virtual hard disk. The virtual hard disk has nothing on it. Simply leave the default option to install Ubuntu to use the entire disk.
Whilst this is going on you can fill in the installation options such as picking your location and the username and password to be used within Ubuntu.
That is it you have a virtual machine installed.