How to Install Windows in VirtualBox in Linux

Windows On Vbox Feature

There are several reasons why a Linux user would want to create a Windows virtual machine, and VirtualBox is easily one of the most popular hypervisors available for Linux. It’s simple to use, easily accessible, and extremely flexible in what it allows you to do with your virtual machines. In this guide, you’ll learn how to install Windows in VirtualBox in Linux.

Installing VirtualBox

There are two primary ways to install VirtualBox in Linux. The first one is to go to the website and download whichever package works for your system. To do this, first go to the project website and click the big “Download VirtualBox 6.1” button.

Windows On Vbox Home Page

After that, click “Linux distributions” on the Downloads page.

Windows On Vbox Download Page

You’ll be brought to a list of compatible Linux distros on which you can install VirtualBox. Click whichever one you’re looking for, follow the download prompts, and the package installer should automatically install the package. 

Windows On Vbox Distros Page
Windows On Vbox Installed Rpm

However, there are some challenges with that. Generally, just installing the RPM or DEB will miss building the kernel modules necessary, which can bring up many errors. The way to get around that is to install VirtualBox from your distro’s repository. This is usually a simple command to install, depending on your distribution. 

For Ubuntu and its derivatives: 

Downloading Windows 10

For those who may not be aware, Windows 10 is actually free to download and use. You can’t use it in a production environment without paying for it, but if it’s purely for personal purposes, it’s fair game. 

To download the ISO image file, go to this link and scroll down to where it says “Select edition.” Choose whichever is the latest edition and click “Confirm.” Choose your product language and click “Confirm” again. You’ll be brought to a page where you can choose between 64-bit and 32-bit downloads. I’d recommend 64-bit, as it’ll give you the most flexibility in terms of the actual virtual machine you create. 

Windows On Vbox Windows Page 1
Windows On Vbox Windows Page 2

Note: the download may take a while, especially on a slow network connection, as the ISO image is almost 5GB in size.

Once you click “64-bit Download” and save it to your machine, you’re ready to create your Windows 10 virtual machine in VirtualBox.

Creating the Windows 10 Virtual Machine

Once your download is finished, open up VirtualBox and click “New.” 

Windows On Vbox Main Screen

Type “Windows 10” in the “Name” section. That will automatically choose the “Version” to “Windows 10 (64-bit).” From there, name it anything you want. 

Windows On Vbox Create Vm

Go through the menu and set whatever you’d like for the configuration of the virtual machine. I’d recommend at least 4096MB Memory and creating a 75GB virtual disk. Don’t worry about it eating up all of your disk space; you can choose “Dynamically allocated” to save disk space. The type of disk doesn’t matter too much either, unless you plan to move this VM around from system to system. 

Once you finish creating your virtual machine, you’ll be left with a plain VM that needs some help to be configured. Depending on the specs of your host machine, you may be able to do more than this, but here’s what I would recommend as the minimum. 

You’ll want at least:

  • 2 vCPUs
  • 3D acceleration turned on
  • Hyper-V for the paravirtualization interface
Windows On Vbox Vcpus
Increasing the number of vCPUs to 2
Windows On Vbox 3d Acceleration
Turning on 3D acceleration
Windows On Vbox Hyper V
Setting the Paravirtualization Interface to Hyper-V

If you have more CPU cores or RAM to allocate, I’d absolutely recommend doing so. This will only get you so far. 

Additionally, you’ll have to attach the Windows 10 ISO file that you downloaded earlier. On the VM Settings page, click “Storage -> Optical Drive -> Empty” in the Storage section and click “Choose a disk file.” Navigate to your downloads folder and choose your Windows 10 ISO file.

Windows On Vbox Selecting Iso

Now, all you have to do is start up your virtual machine by clicking “Start” at the top and install Windows.

Windows On Vbox Installing Windows

Once Windows is installed, you may notice that it’s complaining about inadequate video drivers and that you’re limited to a very small screen. To fix all that, you will need to install VirtualBox Guest Additions. 

Installing VirtualBox Guest Additions in Windows 

Installing Guest Additions is quite simple. With the VM running, click “Devices -> Insert Guest Additions CDimage” and then “Insert.” Open the file explorer and click on “This PC.” You should see the icon for the Guest Additions CD Image on the bottom next to “Local Disk (C:).” Click on the Guest Additions CD Image icon. 

Windows On Vbox File Explorer This Pc

Click on “VBoxWindowsAdditions” and “Yes” on the UAC dialogue.

Windows On Vbox File Explorer Windows Additions

Click “Next” through the installer dialogue, accepting all defaults. Additionally, click “Install” when you get the dialogue asking to trust software from Oracle. 

Once the installation is finished, click “Finish,” and your VM will reboot. Once it reboots, the Guest Additions are installed, and you can now experience true 3D acceleration, screen size selection, and many of the other great benefits that come with using VirtualBox Guest Additions, like shared clipboards and file sharing from Host to Guest and back. 

Windows On Vbox Additions Finish Install
You can choose to reboot now or do it yourself later.
Windows On Vbox Finished
Note that the VM is now full screen.


Now that you know how to install Windows in VirtualBox, make sure to check out some of our other Linux virtualization articles, including this one about Virtual Machine Manager, and this one about creating a Linux virtualization workstation.

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John Perkins John Perkins

John is a young technical professional with a passion for educating users on the best ways to use their technology. He holds technical certifications covering topics ranging from computer hardware to cybersecurity to Linux system administration.

6 comments

  1. On the statement that Windows 10 is free for personnel use is misleading. It is a free download and can try it for 90 days, but after that Microsoft expects you to pay for it. There are work arounds to use it for free that are legal under certain specifics.

    1. What are the specifics for using Win 10 without paying? I only need Windows to update my TomTom GPS. When updating TomTom which uses a Linux OS it does not talk with Linux OS on a computer, just Windows or Mac. So I would use Win 10 about twice a year to update the maps in the TomTom. Really not financially justifiable to pay for Windows.

      1. You don’t need a product key to install it, and it will continue to work indefinitely without paying for it. The only things you can’t do are customize your desktop, which probably doesn’t matter much. Install away!

    2. That’s actually not true anymore. They’ve recently changed their policies to allow you to use Windows for free if it’s not for production. Meaning, you can download the Windows ISO without any issues, and you can install it without a product key. You’ll get the occasional complaint about Windows not being activated, and you can’t customize your desktop much, but you can still install software and use it as you would a normal system. Using it without a product key is an indefinite solution for Linux users needing to use Windows for certain specific tasks.

  2. Agree with Colin – that was a ridiculous statement to make.

    Also, I usually download VirtualBox from Oracle and have never had problems running it on openSUSE 15.1, even though “openSUSE 15.0” is the only release officially (non-) “supported”. If you download from the distro’s repositories, you’ll probably be a couple releases behind Oracle.

    1. As I said to Colin, it’s not true that it’s a 90 day trial. They changed that fairly recently. It’s still that way with Server editions, AFAIK, but for Windows 10, you can install and use it indefinitely without a product key. The only real problem is that you can’t customize anything, but that won’t matter to Linux users.

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