Installing Ubuntu on VirtualPC Step by Step

Update: October 18, 2007 – Version 7.10 is now out. Complete step by step instructions on installing 7.10 can be found at:

Update: I’ve now determined how to get Ubuntu 6.10 working on VirtualPC 2007. If you are interested in the latest version, see my new post on February 26th, 2007 at or Note there is still value in installing 6.06, as it’s the version of Ubuntu that will have long term support, and thus be the Linux of choice by many corporations. Also note that while the instructions below were written with 6.06 and VirtualPC 2004, the instructions are the same for 6.06 under Virtual PC 2007. So you’ve decided you’d like to try a Linux distribution, but don’t have a computer to dedicate to it. Further you’re understandably reluctant to mess around with your partitions and try and get dual booting to work. No problem, Virtual PC to the rescue.

First, you will need to obtain a copy of a Linux distribution. One of the most popular today is Ubuntu. Ubuntu uses the Gnome desktop for an “Apple like” feel. There’s a variant called Kbuntu which has a much more Windows like look and feel. If you are interested in Mono development (Mono is the open source implementation of the .Net Framework) be aware you will want to use a Gnone desktop, and thus Ubuntu, as my understanding is all of the Mono tools were designed for Gnome.

For this tutorial we’ll be using Ubuntu. To obtain your copy of Ubuntu, simply go to , click on the downloads link, and select Ubuntu. I would recommend you use version 6.06, which is the long term supported version. I attempted to use the current version, 6.10, and had major issues with the graphics.

Key Point: Use Version 6.06, not 6.10.

Be aware the image is around 650 Meg in size, so have a good high speed connection. If you are on a dial up, check your newsstands for various Linux magazines. Each month ever one of the Linux magazines comes with a DVD loaded with a variety of distos (Linux speak for distribution).

Once you’ve downloaded the ISO image, you have two choices. First you can simply burn to a CD, using your favorite CD burning software. Make sure you tell it you want to burn from an image, if you just write the ISO file you’ll have a disk with an ISO image, but it will not boot.

Your second choice, the one I’d suggest is to use the Microsoft Virtual CD drive. I blogged about it back on September 13th ( ). Read this post to see how to use it, then jump back here.

Back? Cool. Launch the Virtual CD app, with a drive letter assigned to your Ubuntu image. For this tutorial I’ve mapped my Ubuntu to drive Z.

Now that you have Ubuntu ready, you need to go read my VirtualPC Step by Step post ( ). Keep it handy as I will be referring to it frequently for this tutorial.

In Step 1 you are instructed to create a new machine, do so. I’ve named mine “Ubuntu 6.06”. In step 2, you are prompted for your OS. You will need to pick Other. In step 3, you are asked about Ram. Ubuntu will run OK under 256 megs, however if you have the available space I’d suggest upping it to 512, especially if you intend to get into doing some graphics or mono coding.

In step 4 you will want to create a new hard disk, and in step 5 confirm what you’ve selected. OK, now you are up to step 6, installing the OS, which is where this tutorial picks up.

Launch your new Ubuntu 6.06 VPC. (Click on it in the VPC and click Start). When it starts, click on CD, Use physical drive Z: in the menu. In a moment you’ll see a menu that looks like this:

[Ubuntu VPC 1]

Select the “Start Ubuntu in safe graphics mode” option. It’s very important you pick this option, if you take the default “Start or install Ubuntu” you will get garbled graphics under VPC.

OK, now you have watched the Ubuntu screen flash as it loads, now you should see a screen like this:

[Ubuntu VPC 2]

While it looks like it, be aware you have not installed Ubuntu. Instead, you are running in what is known as “Live Mode”. This is a feature that is common to most CD distributions of Linux. In Live Mode you can boot your computer and use a Linux distribution without having to install.

Installing is just what we want to do, and Live Mode makes it easy. By now you’ve probably noticed the big icon that says “Install”. Let’s double click this.

[Ubuntu VPC 3a]

The first thing you are prompted for is the language you want to use. Select the language most comfortable to you, then click Forward.

[Ubuntu VPC 3]

Next you are asked for the city near where you live. You can select your city by either clicking on the map, or selecting from the list. After doing so you will want to set the time, just click on the Set Time… button to do so.

[Ubuntu VPC 5]

In step 3 we are prompted for the keyboard layout. Since my default is already selected, all I have to do is click Forward, otherwise you should pick your layout and click Forward.

[Ubuntu VPC 6]

Now Ubuntu needs to get some personal information. Just your name, what you want your login name to be, and the name for your computer. Enter your own information here, then write them down! OK, now you can click Forward.

[Ubuntu VPC 7]

Getting close, now in step 5 we’re asked about the disk space. Your two options are to install to the entire partition, or manually edit. Since this is a virtual machine, we’ll just take the default of “Erase entire disk:IDE1 master (hda) 17.2 GB Virtual HD” and click Forward.

[Ubuntu VPC 8]

OK, we’ve finally reached the final step of our install wizard. Just assure yourself that your selections are correct, then click the Install button.

[Ubuntu VPC 9]

As Ubuntu installs you’ll be able to monitor it via a progress bar:

[Ubuntu VPC 10]

When the install is done, you are asked if you want to restart, or continue using the Live CD. Let’s pick Restart Now.

[Ubuntu VPC 11]

Now during the reboot I got to the Ubuntu logo screen, then the VPC just sort of stopped. I wound up clicking the red Cancel x to close the window, and picked turn off. I then returned to my VPC console and clicked Start to restart my Ubuntu machine.

Once Ubuntu is running, you are first prompted for your Username. Enter the user name you provided during the install and press enter when done. Then do the same with your password, pressing enter when you’re done. Ubuntu will crank and grind, then come up to the desktop, and you’re ready to go!

I’m not going to go into details on how to use Ubuntu, but I will point out a few things. Let’s take a quick look at the desktop.

[Ubuntu VPC 12]

Starting in the upper left, you’ll see the menu:

[Ubuntu VPC 13]

The Applications menu is where your programs reside. Preinstalled is the Open Office suite, Gimp photo editor, and lots of neat games.

Places is sort of like My Computer, through it you can get to your personal folder, the network, CD / DVD drives, and more.

Through the System menu you can tweak your system settings, similar to Control Panel.

Next to the System menu is a little globe, this will launch the Firefox web browser. To it’s right is an open envelope, you’ve probably guessed this will launch an e-mail program.

By now, you’ve probably noticed this little announcement:

[Ubuntu VPC 14]

If it went away, just click on the orange icon you see on the screen. This is the notification icon, and will let you know of updates, system messages and more. Through the internet you can download the latest updates to Ubuntu. By the way, next to it you’ll see a little speaker icon, this is the Volume control.

Finally, you’re probably asking yourself how the heck you shutdown in Ubuntu. You can exit safely in one of two ways. First, on the upper right you probably noticed this red icon:

[Ubuntu VPC 15]

This is the shutdown icon. You can also select System, Quit from the System menu.

There you go, all the steps you need to get up and running with Ubuntu. Both it and Virtual PC are free, so you have no excuse to start experimenting with Ubuntu today.


62 thoughts on “Installing Ubuntu on VirtualPC Step by Step”

  1. Thanks Neath, I hope you find it helpful. Like you I was too paranoid about hosing windows to try a dual boot situation, and didn’t have a spare PC to throw at it. That’s why Virtual PC was such a winner, it safely insulates your host Windows OS against any damage by containing the Linux install inside it’s environment.

    Arcane Code

  2. Great work. I tried it on my virtual pc and it doesn’t seem to work. I will say that I have a different workstation that I installed ubuntu on. It worked like a charm the new installer had Qparted integrated. It runs Grub on startup and works great. There were only 2 problems. When Windows booted up it wanted to check the disk, I cancelled out of that and it worked great. The other problem is that Grub set Ubuntu as the default os. But simply editing Grub will fix that problem for you. If you have a big enough hd I would try installing ubuntu. You’ll love it!

  3. WordPress added the ability to do DIGG easily. If you found this useful, please click on the Digg link above, this is the first one I’ve tried. If others find digging useful I will add it to my other posts.

    Arcane Code

  4. I got Kubuntu 6.10 to install fine, but I have no mouse. I had to change the install graphics to 800×600, or 1024×768 (runnin of the ALT CD, not the Live CD) and it installed fine, I then had to change my default color bit to 16 from 24. But now My Mouse doesnt work…any reasons why and how I can get it fixed??

  5. I can’t activate the volume control. The figure above also shows the volume control disabled.

    Who knows the solution??

  6. I hawe problem i downloaded ubuntu and made all the settings in vcp but when i run and push it to start in safe mode then it loads and then just a zoomed pic of ubundu for sec and then widescreen comes with very bad colors and impossible to see coz it like 4bit there. anybody help plz

  7. I’m totally new to linux can anyone tell me how to get the sound working under vpc 2007/ubuntu 6.06 (it installed first time using your guide) 🙂

  8. I got it all installed fine, but my internet doesn’t seem to work. I am staying in the dorms and I was wondering if it thought it was a different PC than I registered with the school. Any Help?

  9. okay i tried installing kubuntu 6.06 on my virtual pc 2007. I am running inside vista, has anyone got theirs to work??? Everytime it takes forever to load and then just has the splash screen scroll from left to right across the screen, looping around. This can’t be right. Also, does anyone know how long it took to load? I have waited fifteen minutes. Oh, and its the live version, x86. Any help would be awesome!!!

  10. i need help i dont know what happens after i do “Start Ubuntu in safe graphics mode” it loads and then there is a black screen and you can write in it and it doesn’t do anything after that… =\
    please email me i dont know what to do =|

  11. Dvir, it depends, what version of Ubuntu are you installing? If it’s 6.10, the install instructions are somewhat different, look at my post (see the sidebar) on Installing Ubuntu 6.10 under Virtual PC 2007 (works with VPC2004 too).

    Caleb, in your VPC menu, click on Edit, Settings, and look at network settings. It could be your virtual network card is being mapped to a network card you don’t have hooked up, or an incorrect virtual card.

    Sean, I got 6.06 Kubuntu installed OK under VPC 2004, haven’t tried with VPC07 or Vista. Sorry.


  12. This guide was useful and I got it to work under VPC2007 with Vista. I’m am trying ubuntu7 now. Will report back.

  13. Hey arcanecode,

    Thank you for your great tutorial. I am able to install Ubunu 6.06 on VPC 2007. Have you ever tried installing VMAdditions? If yes, please let me know how you did it.


  14. hey,
    how come my virtual pc is facing lagging problem?everytime i want to move d mouse pointer it’ll hang for a few seconds…it cant work smoothly..i set the RAM as can i solve this problem?


  15. Holy cow, after 4 hours of trial and error, I finally got Ubuntu 6.0.6 loaded. I tried 3 other versions of Ubuntu before without success and finally decided to try 6.0.6. On the third try, it loaded without any errors.


  16. I have a IBM tablet X41 with Windows XP Tablet.

    Does Ubuntu support tablet functions?

    Do you know of anyone who has installed VPC and Ubuntu on a tablet?

    Many thanks

  17. thanks, works great under vista on my compaq v6000. Needs tweaking of course but what dosen’t? Great tutorial, got me thru it with minimal problems.

  18. its very slow to install, i have alowed 512 ram. the max. any other configuration i can do to quicken the process

  19. Just my input for anyone interested. I tried Microsoft’s VPC 2007, but found it very sluggish on Windows XP Professional as the host machine. The install of Ubuntu took over two hours and I also ran into the mouse and graphics problems. This was very frustrating and took two days to get through it all, not to mention I kept getting the Black Screen of Death in VPC 2007 after I finally got Ubuntu installed. I knew there had to be something better out there and I found another free virtual machine software package called VirtuaLBox This software is much leaner and faster than Microsoft’s.

    I downloaded/installed it and bam! had everything going without a hitch in a very short time. The interface is much friendlier than the later one and easier to use.

    The Ubuntu installation was took the steps as described here on this web site without any work arounds to speek of. It just works.

    Give it a shot if you like free software 🙂

    Thanks Arcane Code for the great site!

  20. My apologies I left out I installed Ubuntu 7.04 in the VirtualBox virtual machine. The actual install time was about 30 minutes after the initial boot once I clicked on the Install Icon from the Uubuntu desktop.

    Loving it!

  21. Not to knock on Microsoft technology because I am a Microsoft fan as much as I am a new GNU/Linux fan, but regarding this one piece of software (virtual pc) I knew there had to be something better.

    And BAM! thanks the Open Source, Richard Stallman, GNU, Linus Tarvolds/Linux there was.

  22. to Semaj

    semaj, VMAdditions doesnt work on Linux, it only works on XP, 2000, etc… although you can find some VMAdditions on Linux… but its hard to find….

  23. Thanks for the information. I want to know one thing.. can i configure Internet for the operating system running on virtual pc.

    1) I am using ADSL connection for Windows xp.
    2) Installed ubuntu 6.06 using virtual pc.
    3) can i share internet in ubuntu 6.06

    Please help me.

  24. This is very important, If I install Ubuntu or any other OS. using Virtual PC it creates a Virtual Drive which takes specific space on the Hard Drive. Now this space is formatted for use of OS eg. Ubuntu i will format it to ex3 format type.
    After installing and using If anytime I want to remove this and get the space back for windows is it possible if i just delete this virtual Drive or do I have to format the entire Hard disc partition eg. d:\ if i choose to use it on my D-drive to get back the space by just deleting this virtual drive in virtual PC folder.

  25. Aditya,

    The virtual hard disk is simply a VHD file, so if you want to recover the space all you have to do is delete the VHD file. Often when I need more space, I’ve even zipped up the VHD and VMC files and stored them on an external device.

    So no worries, if you try an new OS and don’t like it, all you have to do is delete two files (VMC and VHD) and you’re good to go. No formatting needed.

  26. Hi,
    this is a great tutorial. Thanks! I used it to install Ubuntu with Virtual PC. One issue, though. How do I make my internet connection work? I mean go to the internet via Ubuntu and virtual pc? Does anyone know?

  27. Hey guys. I am trying to install Kubuntu 7.10 on my Gateway notebook running Virtual PC 2007. I already know about the mouse issue, but once I’m at the installation window, I cant click Enter either. (It wont do anything) I can however scroll up and down and select “Start Kubuntu in Safe Graphic Mode”, but Enter wont do nothing.

    Any ideas?

  28. Thanks a lot!!!!!!! Very useful Guide. I could install Ubuntu 6.06 on VPC 2207 on Windows XP home as the host machine. I will work on it and report back. Thanks a lot Arcane Code.

  29. Thanks a lot!!!!!!! Very useful Guide. I could install Ubuntu 6.06 on VPC 2007 on Windows XP home as the host machine. I will work on it and report back. Thanks a lot Arcane Code.

  30. Yes, very useful guide! Worked like a charm. With Virtual PC 2007, you don’t even have to use the Virtual CD App. Simply use Capture ISO in the CD menu item of your virtual machine and run the Ubuntu setup from there. (Of course, you must down load the ISO-file first.)

  31. I just want to confirm something before I push through the install. So everything working fine I’m just a little confused at step 5.

    “Getting close, now in step 5 we’re asked about the disk space. Your two options are to install to the entire partition, or manually edit. Since this is a virtual machine, we’ll just take the default of “Erase entire disk:IDE1 master (hda) 17.2 GB Virtual HD” and click Forward.”

    I have windows XP SP2 installed on my vaio laptop with only one physical partition for windows. At this step , will formating this virtual drive affect my physical drive, in other words will it erase my hard drive just to install Ubuntu. After typing this out it doesn’t sound like it however just want to make sure before ending up with much larger problem. Thanks


  32. the entire issue appears to be in the RAM allocation and the video resolution, use less than 512 mb of ram (i chose 384 as it is the minimum to install with, works fine) and 1024x768x16 and you should be fine. (any VPC version will not take kindly to 24 (or apparently 32 bit) colors). Hope this helps!

    Peace and Love,


  33. Hey arcanecode,

    Thank you for your great tutorial. I am able to install Ubunu 6.06 on Microsoft VPC 2007. I had tried many times before looking at your tutorial…but could do successfully. Now I could do it by following your simple steps.
    Thanks a lot again.

    -Gangadhar B.

  34. How to get the internet to work
    Behind 2 routers

    1. Make sure your real network card is selected in the VPC network settings
    2. start ubuntu
    3. System>Pref>Network Proxy > adv config
    4. Delete all the items on the list (local host, 127.0…..)
    5. System > admin > Network
    6. Change the wired connection to DHCP and then make sure you check Enabled. Should work for you now 🙂

  35. I installed Ubuntu on Microsoft Virtual PC. Everything works fine except the network. The internet does not seem to work. I am newbie. Any help appreciated.

  36. Great blog I’ve actually bookmarked it for learning ubuntu. Can you recommend any books about ubuntu for me? yep, I am a beginner of ubuntu. :] thanks in advance.

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