How To Install Ubuntu Linux On Windows 10 In 24 Steps

Introduction

This guide will show you how to download and install Ubuntu Linux on Windows 10 in such a way that it won’t harm Windows. (You can find uninstall Ubuntu instructions here.)

The upside to following this guide is that Ubuntu Linux will only run when you tell it to and it doesn’t require any special partitioning of your disks.

The method used to install Ubuntu is to download a piece of software called Virtualbox from Oracle which allows you to run other operating systems as virtual computers on top of your current operating system which in your case is Windows 10.

What You Will Need

In order to install Ubuntu Linux on Windows 10 you will need to download the following applications:

Steps Required To Run Ubuntu Linux On Windows 10

  1. Download Oracle Virtualbox
  2. Download Ubuntu
  3. Download Virtualbox Guest Additions
  4. Install Virtualbox
  5. Create a Ubuntu virtual machine
  6. Install Ubuntu
  7. Install Virtualbox Guest Additions

What About Windows 7 And Windows 8 Users

Here are some alternative guides for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users

01
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Download Oracle Virtualbox

Where To Download Oracle Virtualbox
Where To Download Oracle Virtualbox.

To download Virtualbox visit www.virtualbox.org and click on the large download button in the middle of the screen. 

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32-Bit or 64-Bit

Is My Computer 32-Bit Or 64-Bit
Is My Computer 32-Bit Or 64-Bit.

To find out whethe you are running a 32-bit or 64-bit system click on the Windows start button and search for PC Info.

Click on the link for “About your PC”.

The screen that appears tells you lots of useful information about your computer such as the amount of RAM, the processor and the current operating system.

The most important part however is the system type which as you can see from the image shows that my system is 64-bit. Using the same technique you can work out which system type your computer is.

Here is a complete guide to finding out whether you are using 32-bit or 64-bit.

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Download Ubuntu

Where To Download Ubuntu Linux
Where To Download Ubuntu Linux.

To download Ubuntu visit www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop.

There are two versions of Ubuntu available:

  1. Ubuntu 14.04.3 LTS
  2. Ubuntu 15.04 (soon to be Ubuntu 15.10)

Ubuntu 14.04 is for people who don’t want to upgrade their operating system every 6 months. The support period has a number of years to run and therefore it really is a case of installing it and getting on with your life.

Ubuntu 15.04, 15.10 and beyond are the latest releases and have more up to date developments which aren’t available in 14.04. The downside is that the support period is much shorter at just 9 months. The upgrade process isn’t a big deal but obviously requires more effort than just installing 14.04 and leaving it.

There is a big download link next to both versions and it is up to you whether you want to install 14.04 or 15.04 and beyond. The installation process doesn’t really change.

This guide shows the differences between the Ubuntu versions.

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Download Virtualbox Guest Additions

Where To Download Virtualbox Guest Additions
Where To Download Virtualbox Guest Additions.

The guest additions makes it possible to run the Ubuntu virtual machine in full screen mode at a suitable resolution.

To download Virtualbox Guest Additions visit http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/.

There are a lot of links on this page. Click on the link that matches the version of Virtualbox you downloaded previously.

When the next page opens click on the link for VBoxGuestAdditions.iso (There will be a version number as part of the link i.e. VBoxGuestAdditions_5_0_6.iso).

Click on the link and let the file download.

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How To Install VirtualBox

Install Oracle VirtualBox
How To Install Virtualbox.

Press the start button and search for “Downloads”. Click on the link to the “Downloads” file folder.

When the downloads folder opens click on the Virtualbox application file you downloaded earlier on. 

The Virtualbox setup wizard will begin. Click on “Next” to start the installation.

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Where To Install Virtualbox

Choose where to install virtualbox
Choose where to install virtualbox.

The next screen lets you choose the Virtualbox installation options.

There is absolutely no reason not to choose the defaults unless you want to choose a different installation location in which case click on “Browse” and navigate to where you want to install Virtualbox.

Click “Next”to continue.

Here is a video highlighting Virtualbox's advanced settings.

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Create VirtualBox Desktop Icons

Creating Virtualbox Desktop Icons
Creating Virtualbox Desktop Icons.

You now have the option to create shortcuts, either on the desktop and/or the quick launch bar and whether to register file associations such as VDI files to Virtualbox.

It is up to you whether you want to create shortcuts. Windows 10 is really easy to navigate with the powerful search button so you might decide not to bother creating either of the shortcuts.

Click “Next” to continue.

Here is a description of all the hard drive types.

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Virtualbox Warns About Resetting Your Network Connection

Virtualbox Network Interface Warning
Virtualbox Network Interface Warning.

A warning will appear stating that your network connection will temporarily be reset. If this is a problem to you right now then click “No” and come back to the guide at a later stage otherwise click “Yes”.

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Install VirtualBox

Install VirtualBox
Install VirtualBox.

You are finally at the point of installing Virtualbox. Click the “Install” button.

A security message will appear asking whether you are sure you wish to install Virtualbox and halfway through the install you will be asked whether you want to install the Oracle Universal Serial Bus device software. Click “Install”.

10
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Create A Ubuntu Virtual Machine

Create A Ubuntu Virtual Machine
Create A Ubuntu Virtual Machine.

You can start Virtualbox simply by leaving the “Start Oracle VM Virtualbox after installation” checked and clicking “Finish” or for future reference click the start button and search for virtualbox. 

Click on the “New” icon on the taskbar.

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Choose The Type Of Virtual Machine

Name Your Virtual Machine
Name Your Virtual Machine.

Give your machine a name. Personally I think it is a good idea to go for the Linux distribution name (i.e. Ubuntu) and the version number (14.04, 15.04, 15.10 etc).

Select “Linux” as the type and “Ubuntu” as the version. Make sure you choose the correct version based on whether you have a 32-bit or 64-bit machine.

Click “Next” to continue.

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How Much Memory Do You Give Your Virtual Machine

Set Virtual Machine Memory Size
Set Virtual Machine Memory Size.

You now have to choose how much of your computer’s memory you will assign to the virtual machine.

You cannot assign all of your computer’s memory to the virtual machine as you need to leave enough for Windows to continue running as well as any other programs that you have running within Windows.

The minimum you should consider assigning to Ubuntu is 2 gigabytes which is 2048 MB. The more you can give the better but don’t go overboard. As you can see I have 8 gigabytes of memory and I have assigned 4 gigabytes to the Ubuntu virtual machine.

Note that the amount of memory you set aside is only used whilst the virtual machine is running.

Slide the slider to the amount you want to assign and click “Next”. 

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Create A Virtual Hard Drive

Create A Virtual Hard Drive
Create A Virtual Hard Drive.

After assigning memory to the virtual machine you now have to set aside some hard drive space. Select the “Create a virtual hard disk now” option and click “Create”.

There are a number of different hard drive types that you can choose from. Choose “VDI” and click “Next”.

There are two ways to create the virtual hard drive:

  1. Dynamically allocated
  2. Fixed size

If you choose dynamically allocated it will only use space as it is required. So if you set 20 gigabytes aside for the virtual hard drive and only 6 is required then only 6 will be used. As you install more applications the extra space will be allocated as necessary.

This is more efficient in terms of disk space usage but isn’t so good for performance because you have to wait for the space to be allocated before you can use it.

The fixed size option allocates all the space you request straight away. This is less efficient in terms of disk space usage because you may have set aside space you never actually use but it is better for performance. Personally I believe this to be the better option as your computer generally has more disk space than memory and CPU power.

Choose the option you prefer and click “Next”.

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Set The Size Of Your Virtual Hard Drive

Set Size Of Virtual Hard Drive
Set Size Of Virtual Hard Drive.

Finally you are at the stage of setting how much space you wish to give to Ubuntu. The minimum is about 10 gigabytes but the more you can spare the better. You don’t have to go overboard though. If you are just installing Ubuntu in a virtual machine to test it out go for a smaller amount.

When you are ready click “Create” to continue.

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Install Ubuntu On Your Virtual Machine

Select The Ubuntu ISO
Select The Ubuntu ISO.

The virtual machine has now been created but it is like a computer that doesn’t have an operating system installed yet.

The first thing to do is to boot into Ubuntu. Click the start icon on the toolbar.

This is the point where you need to choose the Ubuntu ISO file you downloaded earlier. Click on the folder icon next to the “Host Drive” dropdown.

Navigate to the download folder and click on the Ubuntu disc image and then on “Open”.

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Start The Ubuntu Installer

Install Ubuntu
Install Ubuntu.

Click on the “Start” button.

Ubuntu should load into the little window and you will have the option to try Ubuntu or install Ubuntu.

Click on the “Install Ubuntu” option. 

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Check Your Virtual Machine Meets The Pre-requisites

Ubuntu Pre-requisites
Ubuntu Pre-requisites.

A list of pre-requisites will be displayed. Basically you need to make sure your machine has enough power (i.e. plug it in if you are using a laptop), has over 6.6 gigabytes of disk space and is connected to the internet.

You also have the option of downloading updates whilst installing and to install third party software.

If you have a good internet connection check the download updates option otherwise untick it and leave the updates to install at a later point post installation.

I recommend checking the install third party software option as it will allow you to play MP3 audio and watch Flash videos.

Click “Continue”.

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Choose The Installation Type

Choose The Ubuntu Installation Type
Choose The Ubuntu Installation Type.

The next step lets you decide how to install Ubuntu. As you are using a virtual machine select the “Erase disk and install Ubuntu” option.

Do not worry. This will not erase your physical hard drive. It will just install Ubuntu in the virtual hard drive created earlier on.

Click “Install Now”.

A message will appear showing you the changes that will be made to your disk. Again this is only your virtual hard drive and so it is safe to click “Continue”. 

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Choose Your Location

Choose Your Location
Choose Your Location.

You will now be required to choose where you live. You can either select the place on the map or type it into the box available.

Click “Continue”.

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Choose Your Keyboard Layout

Ubuntu Keyboard Layout Selection
Ubuntu Keyboard Layout Selection.

The penultimate step is to choose your keyboard layout.

You may find that the correct layout has already been chosen but it isn’t try clicking on the “Detect Keyboard Layout” option.

If that doesn’t work, click on the language for your keyboard in the left panel and then choose the physical layout in the right pane.

Click “Continue”.

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Create A User

Create A User
Create A User.

The final step is to create a user.

Enter your name in to the box provided and give your virtual machine a name.

Now choose a username and enter a password to associate with that user. (repeat the password as required).

The other options are to log in automatically or require a password to log in. You can also choose to encrypt your home folder.

Here is a guide discussing whether it is a good idea to encrypt a home folder.

As it is a virtual machine you may as well go for the “Log in automatically” option but I usually recommend always selecting the “Require my password to log in”.

Click “Continue”.

Ubuntu will now be installed. 

When the installation has finished click the File menu and choose close.

You have the option to save the machine state, send the shutdown signal or power off the machine. Choose power off the machine and click OK.

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Install Guest Additions

Add An Optical Drive To Virtualbox
Add An Optical Drive To Virtualbox.

The next step is to install the guest additions.

Click on the settings icon on the VirtualBox toolbar

Click on the storage option and then click on IDE and choose the little circle with a plus symbol icon which adds a new optical drive.

An option will appear asking you to choose which disk to insert into the optical drive. Click on the “Choose disk” button.

Navigate to the downloads folder and click on the “VBoxGuestAdditions” disc image and select “Open”.

Click “OK” to close the settings window.

When you are back at the main screen click the start button on the toolbar. 

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Open The VirtualBox Guest Additions CD In Ubuntu

Open The Virtualbox Guest Additions CD Folder
Open The Virtualbox Guest Additions CD Folder.

Ubuntu will boot for the first time but you won’t be able to use it full screen until the guest additions are properly installed.

Click on the CD icon at the bottom of the launcher panel on the left and make sure there are files for VirtualBox Guest Additions.

Right click on an empty space where the list of files are and choose open in terminal. 

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Install Virtualbox Guest Additions

Install Virtualbox Guest Additions
Install Virtualbox Guest Additions.

Type the following into the terminal window:

sudo sh ./VBoxLinuxAdditions.run

 

Finally you need to reboot the virtual machine.

Click on the little cog symbol in the top right corner and choose shutdown.

You will be given the choice to restart or shutdown. Choose “Restart”.

When the virtual machine restarts choose the “View” menu and select “Full Screen Mode”.

A message will appear telling you that you can toggle between full screen and windowed mode by holding down the right CTRL key and F.

Click “Switch” to continue.

Summary

Congratulations! You should now have successfully installed Ubuntu as a virtual machine within Windows 10.