Installing Linux Mint on VirtualBox: My Step-by-Step Guide for New Linux Users
As an IT professional and technology enthusiast, I‘m always excited to dive into new operating systems. Linux Mint is one of my favorites – it‘s fast, stable, and user-friendly. In this guide, I‘ll share my personal experience getting Linux Mint up and running in a VirtualBox virtual machine. Whether you‘re a fellow tech geek looking to expand your skills or just Linux-curious, read on for my tips!
Let‘s start with why I recommend Linux Mint, especially for folks new to Linux.
Mint is based on Ubuntu, which itself derives from Debian – some of the most popular and well-supported Linux distros. So it‘s built on solid foundations.
It uses the Cinnamon desktop environment, which feels intuitive with a classic taskbar and menu layout similar to Windows. Great for beginners.
Out of the box, Mint includes multimedia codecs, Wi-Fi drivers, and proprietary software. Things that can be tricky to install on some distros.
There‘s a vibrant community supporting it, and tons of online resources. I‘ve always gotten quick answers to any Mint questions.
Speaking from experience, the whole system feels snappy and reliable. I‘m writing this post on my Mint laptop right now!
Now let‘s talk about doing a virtual install rather than replacing your current OS outright.
VirtualBox lets you install operating systems as virtual machines – software programs that emulate a full computer. It‘s like having a separate PC running just for Linux Mint!
The big benefit is you don‘t have to repartition disks or worry about completely replacing your existing OS. Just launch the VM when you want Linux.
You can easily adjust the specs as needed. Feel like more RAM or CPU for better performance? Just edit the VM settings.
Makes trying different distros and configurations risk-free. If you mess anything up or want to switch gears, just reset or delete the VM.
I always use VirtualBox to test drive new operating systems before considering a full install. Great for experimenting without commitment.
Alright, time to get our hands dirty. Here‘s my start-to-finish guide to installing Linux Mint in a new VirtualBox VM:
Download Linux Mint and VirtualBox
First, head to the Linux Mint downloads page and grab the Cinnamon 64-bit ISO. This desktop environment is really intuitive for Windows converts.
You‘ll also need VirtualBox, available free for Windows, Mac, and Linux hosts. Get the platform package for your OS.
Installing VirtualBox just takes a few clicks. No need to reboot or make any drastic changes to your system.
Configure Your Virtual Machine
Once VirtualBox is up and running, click "New" to create a new VM.
- Name it whatever you like, I went with "Linux Mint".
- OS Type should be "Linux" and Version "Ubuntu (64-bit)".
- Assign memory – I‘d recommend at least 4 GB for decent performance.
- Default settings are fine for the rest of the fields as you go through the wizard.
On the storage page, under Controller: IDE, click the empty CD icon. Choose your Linux Mint ISO to mount it as a virtual disc drive.
Start the Installation
Hit Start to boot your new VM! You should see the Linux Mint boot menu. Double click "Install Linux Mint" to begin.
Walk through the installer:
- Choose language and keyboard layout.
- On the 3rd party software page, I recommend checking the box to include media codecs, WiFi drivers, etc. Makes life easier later.
- For installation type, "Erase disk" is fine since this is just a virtual drive.
- Pick your location on the map to auto-select the closest time zone.
- Create a username and password. Standard recommendations apply – don‘t make it too simple!
- Installation takes 10-15 minutes to fully copy files and configure the system. Grab some coffee!
Once complete, restart the VM. You may need to remove the ISO from the virtual CD first. Then log in to your fresh Linux Mint desktop!
Confirm Everything Works
Before celebrating, I always run a few quick checks:
Open a terminal and run
lsb_release -a to confirm Linux Mint version details.
hostnamectl will verify hostname and OS.
Browsing the web, playing media files, connecting devices, etc are good spot checks that everything works as expected.
If you see your Linux username and can surf the web, then congratulations – you‘ve successfully installed Linux Mint in VirtualBox!
With Linux Mint up and running as a VM, the possibilities are endless. Here are just a few suggestions:
Customize your new system – themes, extensions, default apps. Make it your own!
Practice common Linux commands and admin tasks. Great way to learn.
Install tools like Git, Node.js, Docker and develop/test projects.
Try out different desktop environments like Xfce or Mate. Just install the mint-meta-package.
Experiment with system settings and advanced features without any downside.
Break things and reset or restore snapshots. Ultimate safe space to learn.
The official Linux Mint user guide is handy to learn the basics. As you get comfortable, remember the community forums are very active and beginner-friendly.
VirtualBox really opens the door to fully evaluating Linux distros risk-free. I hope my guide gives you the confidence to try Linux Mint yourself. Let me know if you have any other questions – happy to help fellow Linux enthusiasts!