Test and Boot an ISO Image Using Virtual Machine


To test an ISO image without burning to a disc using Oracle VirtualBox or VMWare Workstation. Of course, you can use any of the other virtual machine software to get a similar result. I also have Virtual PC installed and it too does a good job of mounting ISO images for testing, but for this article VirtualBox is used because it’s freely available to run on all Windows and Unix systems.
Simply follow the steps to load an ISO image into VirtualBox:
Step 1
Download and install VirtualBox.
Step 2
Run VirtualBox.

Boot an ISO Image Using Virtual Box 1

Step 3

Click the New button and a new virtual machine wizard window will appear. Click Next.
Step 4
Enter any Name and select an O/S Type. It doesn’t matter what you enter in here because it’s only for your own reference. (For example, I use the name “Backtrack 5" and OS Type as Linux 2.6(x64bit) )

Boot an ISO Image Using Virtual Box 2

Step 5

Select the amount of base memory (RAM) to be allocated to the virtual machine. The default is 64MB but I Recommend at the very least 256MB because a lot of bootable O/S images load parts of the system into memory to speed things up when running from CD. 512MB – 1GB is enough for most boot discs.
boot iso virtualbox memory

Boot an ISO Image Using Virtual Box 3

Step 6

At the next screen, you’ll need to create a virtual hard disk. Click the New button, then click Next. It’s not actually essential to create a virtual hard disk for a bootable ISO to function, but some will complain about the lack of a partition or system drive if one isn’t present. If you want to try without a virtual hard disk, untick Startup Disk and skip to step 9.
Step 7
When asked to select a virtual disk type, any of them will do, although a Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) is readable natively in Windows and Unix and also Virtual PC/XP Mode. Click Next.
Step 8
A dynamically expanding image initially occupies a very small amount of space on your physical hard disk. It will grow dynamically as the Guest O/S claims disk space. As for fixed-size image, it is fixed to what you specify in the window and does not change. Click Next again at the next screen which asks you to set the virtual disk location and size. The default size is 2GB but can be reduced if space is a concern. Click Next.
Virtual disk location and size

Boot an ISO Image Using Virtual Box 4

Step 9

The last screen will give a brief summary of your settings. When ready click Create.
Step 10
Now you’ll see the new virtual machine that you’ve just created on the list. Select the virtual machine and click the Settings button.
Step 11
On the left pane of the settings window, click Storage, in the storage tree click Empty which represents an empty ROM drive. Then use the button far right to browse for an ISO image or choose from the recent list. The details about the image will show in the information area. The Live CD/DVD tickbox will keep an ISO loaded even if it is ejected by the guest system. Press OK.
Load ISO Images in VirtualBox

Boot an ISO Image Using Virtual Box 5

Step 12

Finally, click Start button to boot the virtual machine with the ISO image file.

Boot an ISO Image Using Virtual Box 6

Start booting ISO images

Please don’t be frightened by the long 12 steps. It is actually very simple once you’ve go through all the steps once and get to know the procedure. The power of the virtual machine can also be increased by changing some of the settings such as the number of usable processor cores, graphics memory, enabling/disabling network or sound and hardware virtualization etc.


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One Response to “Test and Boot an ISO Image Using Virtual Machine”

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