Let’s get right down to it. Oracle’s VirtualBox (http://www.virtualbox.org/) application is:
- Free – Zero cost. What are you waiting for? Go download it!
- Fast – Low performance overhead. New VT and Nested Paging support take it to the next level.
- Flexible – Runs on any modern processor. Support both VHD and VDI disk images. ISO or physical CD for media.
- Fun– Support for many powerful features. Saved state (no IIS cache waiting), host integrated clipboard, default NAT (network address translation) make this a breeze to get started with. No coding or special tricks required. It just works.
But don’t just take my word for it. Eric Harlan thinks it’s cool. And so does Jeremy Thake. Of course VM Ware Workstation is a good option and others will work but for the free price VirtualBox is hard to beat. It’s just plain easy to learn. Most of my tech friends want to run a SharePoint 2010 DEV server on their personal Windows 7 64-bit laptop as a personal lab to learn with. I have yet to find a better tool for this.
1 – Create VHD with Windows 7’s Computer Manager
- Start Run compmgmt.msc
- Right click “Disk Management” and click “Create VHD”
- I personally like Dynamic Disks for the extra storage flexibility. Yes, there is a small performance hit when it expands.
- Right click “Initialize” on the new disk
- Right click “New Volume” on the online disk
- NTFS quick format with a volume name that matches the VHD file.
- Detach the VHD file
- Cogratulations! You’ve creative a Microsoft native format VHD that can be easily managed by many tools.
2 – Create VirtualBox Guest with VHD file and RAM allocation
- Open Oracle VirtualBox
- Click “New” to start
- Select the O/S type for the guest. Note: this is important for integration (clipboard, file share, network) so please read all choices. Windows Server 2008 R2 is the “Windows 7” kernel type and typically what I run.
- Give it as much RAM as possible (max out the green line).
- When asked for hard drive click “Use existing” and browse for the VHD file. You’ll need to register the VHD path in the Media Manager.
- Finish and check the advanced settings. I suggest a few changes beyond the default :
- Enable PAE
- Enable VT
- Enable nested paging
- Set CPU to 2 (or more if you can)
- Enable 2D video acceleration
- Increase video RAM to 50% of host. I use 64MB of the host 128 MB.
- Now you’re ready to boot install media.
- Under “Storage” browse for a local .ISO on the host to mount on the virtual CD drive. When finished click “Start” and you’re all set.