Over three decades ago, Microsoft introduced its flagship operating system [OS] which then became the primary operating systems for computers (until Apple entered the scene, that is). But there are a few other operating systems for PC’s that are largely underutilized by the general public. A primary one, discussed in this article, is Linux, which has earned a reputation as complex, yet fruitful. Since most Windows users are unlikely to switch to Linux without getting used to it first, we are stuck with an acclimation curve problem. How might one get used to some complex new OS without being able to learn how to use it first? How can someone get used to Linux while maintaining Windows as the primary OS? This tutorial attempts to address our problem by running Linux software on a Windows PC.
Method One – Using a Virtual Machine
This method is one of the most attractive methods since it allows the user to install a full OS on his/her PC as a secondary OS (in our case Linux is the secondary). In this instance, we always consider Linux as an application running on the PC. This means that whenever Linux software is needed on the PC, we simply boot into Linux from within Windows. To boot into Linux, we’ll need both links: Linux Ubuntu OS form the official website and VirtualBox. Virtual Box is the main entity that allows us to run Ubuntu OS as a virtual machine on the PC.
Steps to Install Linux on your Windows PC
- After downloading the Oracle Virtual Box on your PC, run its setup and install it. After the installation, reboot your PC.
- After reboot, open Oracle Virtual Box. It may prompt you with some getting started guidelines but afterward you are taken to the main screen.
- In order to create the virtual machine, click on the new button and then click next.
- Now in the name field, give a name to your new virtual machine. The name can be set to anything but it should remind you of the purpose that particular virtual machine will accomplish [something like “Ubuntu Virtual Machine”].
- For the Operating System option, choose Linux. For Version, choose Ubuntu.
- Now choose whether the Linux ISO file you downloaded is 64 bits or 32 bits. Click next.
- Now you will need to allocate your PC’s RAM to the Ubuntu OS. While this option is totally up to you, professional machines usually allocate 1.5 GB.
- Now click next four times (4x), essentially skipping four windows which do not really need to be tweaked for our purposes.
- Now, just like with the RAM storage, you will need to set a specific hard disk space for Linux. Ubuntu prefers it to be around 5 GB, but usually the more the better. TIP: Choose the hard disk location which has the most free space; don’t assume the default hard disk location is the best location.
- Now click create two times (2x) to create your configured Linux virtual machine.
- Click on the start button to turn the virtual machine on. Click on the right hand side of Media source (after affirming the natural prompts) and navigate/select the ISO image you downloaded.
- Now you must run the setup for installing Linux on your Virtual Machine. This is just the same [self explanatory] procedure you would use as if you were installing a program on your PC.
After the installation completes, you will have the fresh looking Ubuntu OS in front of you. You can now use any type of Ubuntu software within the virtual machine.
Method Two – Using Cygwin Command Line
One of the most “open-source” thing about Linux is its unique command line interface. Linux gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to programming openly. The command terminal in Linux is very, very different from the Windows command module [CMD]. To start this method of Linux interfacing, download the most recent version of Cygwin DLL from the official site: Download Cygwin.
- Go through the typical installation setup for Cygwin on your PC. Don’t worry when you see a lot of files getting installed and downloaded.
- Open Cygwin by clicking on its icon on the desktop. This opens a Linux-like interface that allows your computer to simulate a Linux machine.
If you are uncomfortable jumping into this new environment/shell, you can now perform Linux commands from the old fashioned Windows command prompt with the use of Cygwin.
- Right click on the desktop and open properties.
- On the left sidebar, click on Advanced system settings and then click on the environment variables.
- Click on path and then click the edit button.
- Now paste the following at the end of the variable value – C:\Cygwin\bin
- Click ok and then go ahead and perform Linux commands right away from your CMD.
Now the awesome thing which you can get out of Cygwin is the ability to install Ubuntu software on your PC, and then port it to your Windows. In fact, a lot of well known software packages have already been ported. Although porting is a bit complicated, just recall there are always useful lists of commands available online. Now you can experiment with the Linux [Ubuntu] operating system without having to dual boot or purchase a machine devoted to its usage.