Running Linux in Windows with VirtualBox

I recently decided to halfheartedly stick my toes back into the Linux waters. It’s been about six or seven years since I last played with it. At the time, I was a music student with an interest in computers, and it ended up being a little over my head. So now, a little wiser (I hope), a little more knowledgeable, I wade back in.

Rather than wiping a hard disk, or even dual-booting, I opted to go with a less committed approach. I’ve set up a virtual computer to run within Windows Vista. I tried Microsoft Virtual PC first, but I never got past the boot stage (on several Linux distributions) before it collapsed into a whimpering heap of self-contradiction. Not dissuaded, I gave Sun’s VirtualBox a try, and it worked admirably.

So I now have Linux Mint 6 installed within VirtualBox within Vista. From what I’ve read about the distribution, it’s a lot like Ubuntu, with a few additional tools to make it easier for the uninitiated to use. I have two monitors, so I’ve pretty much just dedicated one to displaying Windows and one to displaying Linux.

So far, my experience has been pretty good. For basic basic usage (i.e., Internet browsing, word processing, etc.), it seems as easy to use as Windows. mintInstall, the software installation program that comes bundled with Linux Mint, makes installation of the thousands of common software packages very easy, and apt-get fills in where mintInstall leaves off. I had XChat running happily within moments, something I still haven’t figured out how to do on Vista. I still have a bit of learning to do inside the terminal, but I’m making progress.

As I run across obstacles, I’ll try to post them here (with their solutions, I hope) so I can remember how to do things again later.