Oracle’s VirtualBox on Ubuntu 10.04, to run Windows applications

Today I spend just a few hours with Oracle’s VirtualBox, and was able to install a copy of Windows XP, and Microsoft Office 2007, on a Dell XPS 1530 running Ubuntu 10.04. The manual for the Virtualbox is 302 pages, but I was able to do the installation without reading the manual, and everything worked as I expected it to.

My reason for doing this was to have access from time to time to programs that do not run in Ubuntu. While I love working with Linux, and encourage other to move to Linux platforms, there are times when it is useful to run Windows programs.

The incompatibility of document formats continues, as ever, to be a challenge for those who collaborate with others. Microsoft’s entire dominance in the word processing field is based upon the lack of workable open standards in document formats. I support the Open Document Format (ODF), and was distressed by Oracle’s recent decision to charge $90 for the Sun ODF plug-in for office.

Because I often try to work on documents with people who only use Microsoft Office, and Open Office documents saved as .doc files sometimes look strange when viewed in Microsoft Word, I wanted to be able fix formatting issues in Word. (This is not the world I want to live in, but it is the world I do live in).

I downloaded a free binary copy of Oracle’s VirtualBox, for Ubuntu 10.04. The software installed in Ubuntu without a hitch. I then connected my laptop to an external CD drive, and from the Virtual Box, created a 10 gig virtual drive, with a copy of Windows XP. I had an extra serial number from a copy of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007. I then downloaded a copy of the software from, and it installed without any problems at all, in the virtual box. I didn’t have to edit any configuration files or download any drivers. It just worked.

I was able to change the screen resolution in the window where Windows runs. It is not as fast as a native installation, but it is fast enough on this machine to work with a document and fix formating issues. It is certainly much more robust in terms of installations that Wine is for now.

I might also try adding a copy of Turbotax, or some other applications that do not yet run on Linux.

I was able to install the Windows Genuine Advantage software, and things still worked fine. So far the only program I have had trouble with is Apple’s iTunes, which crashes. Apple’s Safari browser and Quicktime work fine, however.