Creating a Virtual Machine.
In this chapter, we will go over the steps on how to accurately create a virtual machine in both VMware WorkStation and Virtualbox. We will discuss the features and options in regarding this process and I’ll try to explain everything so you’ll be able to create your own VM’s by yourself in the future. Keep in mind that creating the VM itself isn’t actually hard if you know what you’re doing. Allocating the right (virtual) hardware is important to get right though
To create a virtual machine with VMware WorkStation we first have to install this so called hosted hypervisor. In the previous chapter I explained the basics of VMware and added a download to this software at the end of the chapter. Click the VMware (left) icon to download the installer. The installation should be pretty straightforward so I won’t go into it in detail.
New Virtual Machine
Alright so now that you successfully installed VMware WorkStation, we can go ahead and create our first virtual machine!
To create a new VM, click “File” in the left upper corner and select new virtual machine. This will bring you to the so called New Virtual Machine Wizard. This is a Wizard menu to create new VM’s. There are other ways of creating/loading in virtual machines, but this one is by far the easiest.
When you opened the wizard you’ll see two options, Typical and Custom configuration. I recommend to always use typical unless you specifically need to preset certain features.
Select Typical and click next. When you have done this you’ll have the option to select a way to install the operating system on the virtual machine.
The first option is installation by installer disk. Use this when you have a physical installation CD from your desired operating system. You’ll be asked to insert this disk into your PC.
The second option is the most commonly used option, which is installation using an iso image file. For those of you who don’t know what an ISO file is, it’s basically a file that acts as a virtual CD. To use this option you’ll need to have an iso file of your desired operating system on your PC. If you don’t have them, you can download them online.
The third option is simply skipping the operating system and installing it later. If you want to create a VM right now and install the operating system on it at a later time, this is the option you’ll want to use.
Easy Installation options
After selecting your preferred installation option and clicking next you’ll see the easy install information window. In this window you’ll be able to add a product key (if needed). Select the preferred version of the OS version you’re installing. (For windows you can often choose between home, pro and education/ultimate etc). Aside from this you can also already fill in your preferred username and password. Personally I prefer to keep this empty and do this manually. Once the OS has been installed on the virtual machine but that’s up to you.
Name & Path
After clicking next you’ll be able to name the virtual machine. And select a folder on your PC where you want to install the VM. The name can be anything you want. The location can be anything as well, though if you have an SSD in your PC. I strongly recommend placing the VM on the SSD instead of the HDD as the VM will be much faster as a result.
Aside from that I also recommend you to save your. VM in a folder where you won’t delete it by mistake. I sometimes see people with folders inside folders inside folders and so on. I recommend just creating a folder in the root (C:\) called Virtual Machines. And saving it in it’s own folder there. For example, if I wanted to create a windows 10 machine, I’d save it in the follow path: “C:\Virtual Machines\Windows10”.
After naming your VM and specifying the path where you want to install it and clicking next. You’ll be able to specify the disk capacity and have the storage option.
Specifying the right disk capacity is very important. You can still change it afterwards but it’s always better to do it right the first time. Whilst creating the VM. For windows operating systems I recommend adding a disk size of atleast 30GB. Now I do realise that this does sounds big but no worries, VMware WorkStation uses the thin provisioning method. Which means that the VM file will only be as big as needed. It will grow larger once you add applications and files inside the VM. And it’ll be able to be as large as the amount of GB you specify here.
Then there’s the option that lets you choose whether you want to save your virtual disk as a single file or into multiple files. Personally I always select single file but it doesn’t really matter that much. If you plan on moving your VM to another PC in the future it is recommended to choose the multiple files option as it makes the moving process easier.
After selecting the right settings in the window we discussed above and clicking next, you’ll arrive at the very last window of this wizard. Here you can customize the VM hardware. The great thing about VMware Workstation is that it already selected the recommended hardware specifications so if you just need a normal virtual machine, chances are high that the settings are already perfect as they are.
We are going to click the “customize hardware” button either way though to get you familiar with the options. After you clicked the button a hardware window will pop up, giving you the ability to customize the (virtual) hardware for your virtual machine. You’ll be able to add another network adapter, change the allocated amount of processor cores and allocate more memory to the VM.
Aside from the processor cores and memory the rest of the options likely won’t have any impact on the performance of the VM so we will leave them as it is. As for memory, usually VMware WorkStation allocates about 1-2GB to a new VM. I strongly recommend adding more to it if possible. Keep in mind that your own PC has a set amount of GB RAM space, and you cannot go above that. Going near it is also not recommended as it might significantly slow down or even crash your own PC. My recommendation is to allocate about 50% of your total RAM to the VM and no more. This way you’ll get the most optimal performance on both your PC and your VM. Also keep in mind that it is strongly recommended that if your’e going to work with VM’s on your PC, you should atleast have 8GB of RAM. To find out how much RAM you have, go to file explorer, right click This PC and click properties. There you’ll see your Installed memory (RAM).
After this you can simply start the virtual machine and the operating system will be installed. You can find the start button on the toolbar on top of the VMware window. It’s the green arrow pointing to the right.
To create a virtual machine with VirtualBox we first have to install this so called hosted hypervisor. In the previous chapter I explained the basics of VirtualBox and added a download to this software at the end of the chapter. Click the VirtualBox (right) icon to download the installer. The installation should be pretty straightforward so I won’t go into it in detail. .
Creating a new VM
Alright so now that you successfully installed VirtualBox, we can go ahead and create our first virtual machine!
To create a new VM, click the “New” button in the left upper corner and select new virtual machine. This will bring you to the so called New Virtual Machine Wizard. This is a Wizard menu to create new VM’s. Now because VirtualBox tends to drag out the options a bit in the guided wizard mode, we will be switching to the expert mode. Simply click on the expert mode button to do so.
Name & Operating System
In the first window the first thing you’ll see is the name and operating system section. Here you’ll be able to fill in a name for the VM you’re creating, it’s operating system type (Windows/Linux/MacOS etc,) and the version of the type you selected (Windows 7/8/10 and so on). A fun little feature is that if you use the version name of the operating system you’re going to install, VirtualBox will automatically try to fill in the Type and version of the OS. For example, if you type “Windows 10” it will select “Microsoft Windows” in type and “Windows 10 (32 bit) in version.
In this section you’ll be able to allocate a set amount of Megabytes (MB) to the virtual machine. If you are going to install windows as operating system, I recommend adding at least 2048MB (2GB) RAM. This is also the case with most commonly used Linux versions such as Ubuntu and CentOS. Keep in mind that your own PC has a set amount of GB RAM space, and you cannot go above that. Going near it is also not recommended as it might significantly slow down or even crash your own PC. My recommendation is to allocate about 50% of your total RAM to the VM and no more. This way you’ll get the most optimal performance on both your PC and your VM. Also keep in mind that it is strongly recommended that if your’e going to work with VM’s on your PC, you should atleast have 8GB of RAM. To find out how much RAM you have, go to file explorer, right click This PC and click properties. There you’ll see your Installed memory (RAM).
In this section you’ll be able to choose between creating a new virtual hard disk, adding an existing one and not adding one at this time. If you are creating a brand new virtual machine I recommend leaving this option on the pres-selected “Create a virtual hard disk now”.
After you’ve chosen your options in this window you can click on create.
Hard Disk File Location
Since you checked the option to create a new virtual hard disk, you’ll now be prompted with a window with options regarding this new virtual disk you’re about to create. In the first section you can choose a name for the virtual hard disk, and the path on your PC where this file will be saved. You can choose the path by clicking on the folder icon on the right and using file explorer to browse to the desired path.
Hard Disk File Size
In this section you will be able to specify the size of the virtual hard disk you are creating. I personally recommend you to leave this at 20-30GB, depending on the exact operating system you are about to install on this VM. It’s always good to look up the requirements of said operating system online to get a general idea about the needed size in order to properly install and run the desired OS.
Hard Disk File Type
In this section you’ll be able to select a file type for your virtual hard disk. This option was specifically implemented should you want to use the same virtual hard disk in VirtualBox in another hypervisor, such as VMware WorkStation. If you would want this, select VMDK as file type. Personally I prefer to let each VM have its own dedicated virtual hard disk. If you agree with me on that you can just leave it as it is, on VDI.
Lastly there’s the Storage on physical hard disk section. This may seem a bit hard to understand, but trust me, it’s very easy! In this section you’ll be able to choose between Dynamically allocated storage or Fixed size storage. The difference is easy.
Dynamically allocated storage means that the file size will only be as big as it needs to be. Say your OS needs 8GB in total but you did declare a maximum size of 30GB. Then the file will be 8GB and gradually increase in size when you start adding files and programs in the virtual machine.
Fixed size storage means the virtual hard disk will be as big as the declared size. So say you declared a maximum hard disk size of 30GB, then the file will be 30GB from the start. I recommend not using this as it would be a waste of space. You may want to use it if you are working on a server with a lot of different virtual machines and you want to reserve a certain amount of space for this specific VM.
So in short, if you’re just creating a VM for normal tasks I recommend using the Dynamically allocated storage method.
After you selected your desired option in this section you can click create and the virtual machine will be created!
Do note that with VirtualBox you’ll still need to add your .iso file after you finished creating your new virtual machine with the wizard. To do so, simply start the VM, browse to the desired .iso file and click start to load in this file and start the OS installation. You can find the start button by right clicking the VM and clicking start, or clicking on the green arrow pointing to the right in the upper toolbar in the VirtualBox window.
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