How To Download And Use Preconfigured Linux Distros In VirtualBox

Using virtual machines can be a great way to get familiar with various operating systems and also test stuff. Rather than trying to install a new OS from scratch every time after configuring the virtual machine, using already existing images can be a timesaver.

For pre configured Linux distros, VirtualBoxes is a useful resource to download various Linux flavors/open-source OSes.

These images are for use on Oracle VM VirtualBox. A list of pre-configured images can be found here.

list of pre-configured linux images available for use in virtualbox

Let’s take a look at how to use them:

First, download and install VirtualBox from here.

Next, go to VirtualBoxes and download an image to try out. Images available here are either of OVA format(which means it’s a preconfigured open virtual appliance) or a VDI(virtual disk). Either of these can be used.

Suppose, a minimal distro like Slackware or Gentoo is to be downloaded and used.

For OVA images:

In this case, Gentoo is available as an OVA. Note down other information like login credentials as they will be needed later on.

downloading gentoo virtual image

As it is downloaded as an OVA, all that is needed is to import it in VirtualBox. Choose File>Import Appliance and browse to the path where the image is downloaded. (It is a good idea to keep all virtual images in a separate folder).

importing ova in virtualbox

Point to the downloaded file and hit Next.

choosing gentoo ova for importing in virtualbox

The import process will soon finish.

importing gentoo as an open virtual appliance in virtualbox

If needed, change the resource settings as required (minimal distros don’t need much memory so lowering it would be ok). Finally click Import to apply the changes.

gentoo resource settings in virtualbox

Once the virtual appliance is imported, the OS is now ready to use.

gentoo virtual machine in virtualbox

For .VDI files:

Slackware is available as .VDI. Note down the credentials as these would be required once the VM is up and running.

downloading pre-configured Slackware image

If the downloaded image is in zip format/compressed, extract it and look for a .VDI file (Slackware in this case). This is the pre-built virtual disk that needs to be used.


downloaded virtual disk file for slackware

Next, from VirtualBox create a virtual machine by choosing New.

creating a new virtual machine in virtualbox

In this case, as the VDI to be used is of Slackware, choose the OS as Linux/Other and from Hard disk section, choose the virtual disk during setup.

choosing existing virtual disk file for slackware

Finally, adjust memory and other resources as needed and boot up the virtual machine using Start.

available virtual machines in virtualbox


slackware boot screen

Using such minimal install distros can be a great way to get familiar with Linux shell and its commands.

slackware minimal install running on virtualbox

Also,here is a basic tutorial series on getting familiar with Linux commands and then using them to make shell scripts.

Happy testing.

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