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I've just downloaded and installed virtualbox so I can run linux on my windows computer. Where do I get the "image of a CD-ROM in an ISO file"?

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All linux distributions are avaliable as iso files - it's the standard way of producing a CD image. – Rich Bradshaw Oct 19 '09 at 10:01
Once you download an .iso file you can mount it in the virtual machine using the settings dialog.… Once configured just boot the virtual machine and you can "install" the OS from the virtual CD. – Chris Nava Oct 19 '09 at 15:41
There is no need to burn the ISO to a disk. Using the virtual machine configuration you can mount the .iso directly as if it's a physical disk. – Chris Nava Oct 19 '09 at 15:42
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Here you can find virtualbox images with different Linux/Unix operation systems.

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You can try for example Ubuntu at

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You can get CDROM images in ISO format from, but unless you're familiar with the pros and cons of different Linux distributions, it will be difficult to decide which.

A typical CDROM image is 700MB, so you'll want to decide before you download.

But if you want to try it out, first, try a smaller distribution such as Puppy Linux or DamnSmall Linux, but bear in mind these won't have the features of a full-blown distribution.

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Normally, when you ar talking about virtual machine tools like Virtualbox, "image" refers to a copy of a hard drive (or a virtual hard drive). ISO is a standard format for the contents of CDs.

The difference is important because of the way in which you get it working in Virtualbox. If you have an image, then all you need to do is to get Virtualbox to open it, and you have a running system. With an ISO, you would go into Virtualbox, add a new virtual machine of the type to match what is in the ISO file. Then click Settings, select CD/DVD ROM, check the Mount box, click the ISO image radio button, then click the little folder with the green up arrowhead. It opens a dialog and you add a new virtual CD and tell it where to find the ISO.

Then after all of that, when you start the virtual machine, it will try to boot from the ISO, and you can go through a normal install process.

If you have an image, depending on what format and how it was prepared, you may have to have several tries at getting it started up and edit the XML files in your .VirtualBox folders to match up the machine uuid with the one in the image. It's not hard if you read the error messages carefully.

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you can of course record your own CDs to ISO images (e.g. with InfraRecorder) if you don't want to mount the CDs physically.

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