How to install Windows on Linux

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Miguel Moro Vallina
@miguelmorovallina
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  • Dual-boot Windows and Linux
  • Preliminary operation

    Before getting into the tutorial and find out how to install windows on linux, you have to get yourself aISO image Windows or a real installation disk of the Microsoft operating system.

    The Redmond giant allows you to download ISO images of Windows 10, Windows 8.x e Windows 7 (the latter only after entering a valid product key and only for non-OEM system versions, therefore purchased separately and not pre-installed on computers), while Vista and XP are now obsolete and therefore no longer available.



    If you need a hand to understand how to download Windows 10, how to download Windows 8.x or how to download Windows 7, please consult the tutorials I have dedicated to these themes. If, on the other hand, you have a Windows installation disk and want to turn it into an ISO, install Brazier (free burning software compatible with all major Linux distros, also found in the official Ubuntu store) and use it following the instructions I gave you in my tutorial on how to create an ISO image.

    As you can easily understand, Windows ISO images are not 100% free: they can be downloaded and used at no cost, but they require activation via a valid product key, just like copies of Windows installed on "real" computers.

    If you are interested, you should know that there are also some Windows images prepared for use in virtual machines: these are image files of VirtualBox disks or other similar software which, once “fed” to the latter, allow you to use the Microsoft system without having to go through any installation procedure.

    Some of these images can be found directly on the Microsoft website, where images are available to test Internet Explorer and Edge (Microsoft's browsers) on various versions of Windows. To download the Windows images for VM from the Microsoft site, you need to select the version of Windows you prefer the most (eg. MSEdge is Win10 for Windows 10) from the drop-down menu Virtual machine, the program VirtualBox give menu to tendin Select platform and you have to click on the button Download zip which appears below. Be careful to download a version of Windows (32 or 64 bit) that is compatible with the architecture of your Linux system.



    Virtualizing Windows on Linux

    Once you have the Windows disk image, you can take action - the first step you need to take is to download VirtualBox. If you use Ubuntu, then start the integrated store (Ubuntu Software) by clicking on the shopping bag located in the desktop sidebar and search "virtualbox"by clicking on the icon magnifying glass located at the top right and typing the name of the program in the appropriate field that appears on the screen.

    After searching, click on the icon VirtualBox, by pressing the button Install, type the password of your user account on Ubuntu and give Submit to start the automatic download and installation of the program.

    If you are using a Linux distro other than Ubuntu, you can download VirtualBox by connecting to the program's website and clicking on the link for the operating system you use (eg. Debian 9). There are two editions of the application, one 32-bit (i386) and a 64-bit one (AMD64): choose the one that best suits the computer and operating system you are using.

    When the download is complete, double-click on it to open the file you just downloaded (eg. virtualbox- [version] -Ubuntu-bionic_amd64.deb) and, in the window that opens, click on the button Install to install VirtualBox on your PC. Once this is done, you can move on to creating the virtual machine on which to install Windows.


    install Windows on Linux with VirtualBox, start the program by searching for it in the main menu of your distro (on Ubuntu it opens by clicking on the icon with i 9 white dots located at the bottom of the left sidebar), then click on the button New present in its main window (top left).


    Then type the name that you want to assign to the virtual machine with Windows in the appropriate text field, select the version of the operating system you want to install from the drop-down menu Version and click on the button NEXT to adjust the settings related to RAM to be dedicated to the virtual machine. Leave everything as it is, if you have no special needs, and click on the button Following.

    Now choose with what kind of hard drive equip the virtual machine by setting its format, the type of allocation it must have and its capacity. I recommend that you leave all the default options active: Create a new virtual hard drive now, VDI e Dynamically allocated. In this way, you will get a hard disk in VDI format (the VirtualBox format) with an optimized capacity for the operating system to be installed in it and a type of dynamic allocation, which will take up space on the PC hard disk (the real one) only when necessary.

    Finally, indicate the maximum space that the virtual machine hard disk must occupy on the computer disk and click on the button Crea to finish the procedure and get your virtual machine.


    You now have a virtual machine to "run" Windows on, but you have not yet installed the operating system in it. To do this, you have two options at your disposal: use the Windows installation disc or an ISO image of the latter.

    Whichever you choose, double-click the virtual machine name you just created on the main VirtualBox screen. In the window that opens, if you want to use aWindows ISO image, click on sull'icona della gialla poster and select the file in question. If, on the other hand, you intend to use a real disk for the installation of the operating system, expand the drop-down menu located in the center of the window and select theDVD player drive. When the operation is completed, click on the button starts.


    Now all you have to do is complete the Windows installation procedure normally, as if you were running it on a real PC and not in a virtual machine.

    If you are not very familiar with Windows installations, I invite you to read my guides on how to install Windows 10, how to install Windows 8.x, how to install Windows 7, how to install Windows Vista and how to install Windows XP to learn more. It's very simple, don't worry.

    Once the Windows installation is complete, I recommend that you install the Guest Additions, additional drivers that allow you to increase the level of integration between the virtual system (Windows) and the main system (Linux) to put the two environments in communication, allowing for example the sharing of the clipboard and data and a better visualization of the graphic contents.

    To proceed with the installation of the Guest Additions, once the virtual machine is started, go to the menu Devices> Insert the Guest Additions CD image ... (above) and, in the autorun window that appears in Windows, choose to start the executable. If you are asked to download the Guest Additions from the Internet, accept by clicking on the button Download.

    Press, therefore, always on NEXT and, at the end of the setup, agree to reboot the system. If you do not see any autorun windows, open theFile Explorer Windows, select the item Computer / This PC from the left sidebar, select the virtual drive of Guest Additions and proceed to manually start the installation of the latter.

    Importing an existing image

    Hai scaricato a Windows image file ready for use in virtual machine? Perfect: then, instead of creating a new virtual machine within the program, select the item Import virtual application from the menu Fillet (top left), then click on the icon gialla posterselect il OVF image file in your possession, presses the buttons Following e Import And that's it. You will find yourself a virtual machine ready to use on the main VirtualBox screen.

    Alternatively, if you have downloaded a disk image in VDI, VHD o VMDK (so a disk image of the virtual machine and not the virtual machine itself), you must create a new virtual machine as I explained to you in the previous step of the guide but, when you get to the step related to creating the disc, you have to select the option Use an existing virtual disk file.

    Then you have to click on the icon of gialla poster that appears below, you have to select the image file you downloaded from the Internet and you have to confirm your choice by clicking on the button Crea. You will then get your virtual machine with Windows ready to use.

    Dual-boot Windows and Linux

    If you want to install Windows on Linux in the sense that you intend to create a real dual boot system in which to choose, every time the PC is turned on, which operating system to run between Windows and Linux, you have to partition the disk in order to create a partition to be used for Windows. After that you have to boot from the installation disc of the Microsoft operating system and you have to install a new copy of the latter on the partition created previously.

    For disk partitioning, I recommend using free software GParted, which I told you about in my tutorial on how to partition a hard disk, while for the installation of Windows you can refer to my guides on how to install Windows 10, how to install Windows 8.x and how to install Windows 7 (the previous versions of Microsoft operating system I do not recommend them, as they are obsolete and no longer officially supported).

    If you have already created a dual boot system by installing Linux on Windows but, when you turn on your PC, you are not asked which operating system to run, you should be able to solve the problem by restoring GRUB, the Linux boot manager: if you want more information about it, read my guide on how to reset GRUB.

    How to install Windows on Linux


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