How to Install Windows 10 in VirtualBox in Linux

This detailed beginner’s guide shows you how to install Windows 10 in VirtualBox on Linux.

I regularly encourage people to use Linux, and when I give them reasons to switch, I always mention that they can use Windows and Linux together if they’re ‘scared of Linux’.

One way to use the two systems together is to dual boot Windows and Linux. It works well except that you have to switch between the operating systems by restarting the system. This is somewhat inconvenient.

If, like me, you’re an infrequent user of Windows and don’t want to trouble yourself with dual booting Ubuntu and Windows 10, I suggest installing Windows 10 inside Linux by creating a virtual machine. In an earlier tutorial, I showed you how to install VMWare on Ubuntu, but in this one, we’ll be using Oracle VirtualBox to create virtual machines and installing Windows 10 on them.

What is VirtualBox and what are its advantages?

VirtualBox is open-source virtualization software from Oracle for creating virtual machines. With a virtual machine, you can run an operating system like an application inside your current operating system. It’s like a computer inside a computer.

These are called virtual machines because they’re basically emulating other operating systems, but they’re not really interacting with the computer system like a true operating system would.

The bottom line is that with virtual machine software, you can use Windows like an application inside Linux. Unlike regular applications, it will consume lots of RAM. But this way, you can use Windows-specific software and programs inside Linux without needing to install Windows fully.

Install Windows 10 in VirtualBox on Ubuntu and Linux Mint

Install Windows inside Linux using VirtualBox

Before installing Windows 10 in VirtualBox, let’s see what you need first:

  • An internet connection with good speed, or a Windows 10 ISO that you’ve already downloaded.
  • At least 4 GB of RAM. The more RAM you’ve got, the better.
  • Around 20 GB of free storage for installing Windows 10.

Once you’ve made sure you have the prerequisites, let’s see how to do it. If you prefer, you can watch this tutorial as a video. Do subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Linux tutorials:

Step 1: Download Windows 10 ISO

First and foremost, you need to download a Windows 10 ISO. You can download Windows 10 32-bit or 64-bit, depending on your system. Go to the link below and choose which version of Windows 10 you’d like to download:

You’ll have to choose the edition and language, and then pick between a 32-bit or 64-bit system, before you download the ISO.

Step 2: Install VirtualBox on Ubuntu and Linux Mint

It’s very easy to install VirtualBox on Ubuntu. All you need to do is to use the command below:

sudo apt install virtualbox

Step 3: Install Windows 10 in VirtualBox

Start VirtualBox. You should see a screen like the one below.

Installing Windows in VirtualBox
Click on New

Name the VM anything you like. Also select the operating system and version. In this case I’ve chosen Windows 10 and 64-bit.

Screenshot_from_2016-02-15_23:20:11
Name it whatever you want

Choose the RAM size. The recommended RAM size for 64-bit Windows 10 is 2 GB, while for 32-bit Windows 10 it’s 1 GB. But I suggest you have a little more than that for a smoother experience.

Choose RAm size for Windows virtualbox
Allocate 2-3 GB of RAM

Next is the size for the virtual machine. If you’re crunched on space choose the recommended size, otherwise make it a little more than the recommended size.

Vitualbox-Windows-Linux-3
Select Create a virtual disk now

For the format, go ahead with the VDI format.

VDI Windows Virtual Box
Choose VDI

Confused about dynamic or fixed size? If you choose dynamic, the installed VM will grow beyond its allocated size later. If you’re not going to use Windows extensively, I suggest that you go with fixed size.

Vitualbox-Windows-Linux-6
Go for Dynamically allocated

Now it’s time to finalize the installation size. You can choose where to create the virtual disk. The default location (Home directory) works fine.

Vitualbox-Windows-Linux-7
Allocate size for the Windows installation

You should now be back at the start screen. But wait, we haven’t used our Windows 10 ISO yet, have we? Now’s the time to actually use the ISO. Click on Settings.

Setting Windows Virtual Machine
Go to Settings->Storage

In here, go to Storage and add a new optical drive. I added this screenshot later because a few readers had difficulties finding it.

Add Windows 10 ISO as optical storage
Add your Windows 10 ISO as optical storage

Click Choose disk and point to the Windows 10 ISO.

Add Windows 10 in virtual box
Go for Choose disk

Now you should see the Windows 10 ISO listed under Storage. Press OK.

Vitualbox-Windows-Linux-11
If there’s any empty optical storage, remove it

You should now be back at the main screen of Oracle VirtualBox. Now everything is ready. The next step is to install Windows 10. Click on Start from the main screen:

Install Windows 10 in VirtualBox in Linux
Click on start to install Windows 10

Voila!! You should see the familiar Windows boot screen:

Vitualbox-Windows-Linux-12
Follow the regular procedure

A couple of seconds later, you should see the option to install Windows:

Vitualbox-Windows-Linux-14

Note: At this point, if you see the Windows logo with a black background and it never starts to install, you may have to perform a little tweak.

As It’s FOSS reader Larry points out, “There seems to be an incompatibility between Virtualbox and Windows 10 1703. A virtual machine that runs W10 1607 fine will fail to boot W10 1703 -UNLESS- the following parameter is set: Under System – Acceleration you must set Paravirtualization to NoneĀ and then reboot.”

I think you can handle things from here, as installing Windows is just a matter of few clicks. For your convenience I’ve added the screenshots in a gallery. Click on the images to enlarge them if you need any hints.

Once you’ve successfully installed Windows 10, you’ll find that the internet connection is shared with the virtual Windows as well: no need for further configuration. Here’s It’s FOSS on the Edge browser in Windows 10 inside a VM.

Vitualbox-Windows-Linux-27

When you’re done using the virtual Windows, you can go back to the main screen and switch off the virtual machine from there:

Shutdown virtual Windows in VirtualBox
Turn off the Windows VM

To start the virtual OS again, just click on Start (green arrow) on the main screen of VirtualBox again. That’s it. More on using virtual operating systems later. I think this gives you a good idea of how to install Windows in Ubuntu or Linux Mint to begin with :)

In a related post, you can learn how to create a bootable Windows USB in Linux.

Your take?

Did this tutorial help you install Windows on Linux using VirtualBox? If you have questions or suggestions, feel free to drop a comment.

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  • Thanks for a detailed procedure in hassle-free setup of a windows virtual machine in Ubuntu desktop.

  • Hi, thank you very much on this.
    I have 2 questions:
    1. After I installed everything, one day pass, I press start, but it asked me to install windows again. how can I return to the same state?

    2. Now in the new windows, I cannot install anything. it error me that I dont have a space on disk. why?
    thank you again

      • Thanks. I want to mention here- when close the VM you should choose : “save the machine state” and not “power off” if you dont want to reinstall windows in the next enterance

  • I haven’t run Windows on my personal desktop in forever, but want to give it a shot. I believe I have a Windows 7 license, not Windows 10. If I download and install the Win10 ISO, will navigate me out to pick up a current license? Or what do I need to do to run Win10?

  • Getting files ready for installation stops dead at 60%. I have let it sit there all night, but no progress beyond 60%. I am just glad that Mint works!