Raspbian PIXEL – VirtualBox

Raspbian PIXEL for the Raspberry Pi is absolutely amazing and is such a powerful operating system. You can also run it on your home computer using something known as a live install. This means that you can run Raspbian PIXEL from an external storage device (such as a disc or memory stick). The left over space on the storage device can be used to store files.

What if you don’t have an external storage thingy to store the PIXEL Live install on? Or, what if you simply don’t like the idea of running a separate operating system on your home computer?

VirtualBox is a simple solution that allows you to install an operating system within your primary operating system. VirtualBox allows you create a virtual computer within your own computer.

Right now, your probably worrying about the effect on the rest of your computer. Whilst its worth considering backing up your computer before you do this (you should be doing this regularly already) , there’s no need to worry. Let’s say you decide to modify the startup files on your virtual machine. But, you’ve messed it all up! No problem. Just delete the virtual machine and the evidence has gone.

Ready? Let’s get stuck in!

The Downloading…..urgh!

Getting VirtualBox is the first step (if you don’t have it installed already). VirtualBox can be downloaded by clicking here. Then, click the name of your computers operating system under ‘platform packages’ Once the download is complete (how long this takes will depend on your internet connection), simply open the download and go through the installer. You might see a few annoying popups asking if you want to allow VirtualBox to make changes. This is nothing to worry about. A couple of mouse clicks later (and with a little patience), VirtualBox will launch.

Right then…. VirtualBox is now ready to use. Now just click here to download the live install of PIXEL. Now, wait for the downloading to complete.

The following steps will walk you through setting up the virtual machine itself. A single mistake could result in your virtual machine not starting up so attention to detail is vital throughout the setup process.

Let’s get set stuck in setting up this virtual machine then! Firstly, click on the blue ‘New’ button.

The following window will appear:

Now, select a name for your virtual machine. I’ve called mine ‘PIXEL’ but you can call your whatever you want. Set the type to ‘Linux’ and the version to ‘Other Linux (32-bit)’. If you wish to continue, just click ‘Continue’.

You must now select how much RAM your virtual machine can use. I decided on 1024 megabytes (one gigabyte). Whatever you do, don’t assign all of your computers RAM to the virtual machine. This WILL cause major problems with your computer. Once, you have made a decision, click ‘Continue’. The more RAM that you assign, the better the virtual machine will run.

Now, you need to create a new virtual hard drive for the computer. Click on ‘Create’.

Click on ‘VHD (Virtual Hard Drive)’. This is VITAL as your virtual machine will never boot if you don’t select the correct type of hard drive.

The next step requires you to select if you want the virtual hard drive to “grow as it is used” or “be created as its maximum size (fixed space)”. I can’t provide any more guidance on this since the dialogue says it all! Since I’m lazy, I chose the ‘Dynamically Allocated’ option.


Finally, select the size of the virtual hard drive. You don’t need to change the hard drive’s name if you don’t want to.

Once you’ve clicked on the ‘create’ button, you’ve got yourself a virtual machine and will see the following screen!

The final step is to install PIXEL into the virtual optical drive of the virtual machine you’ve just created. Click on ‘Settings’. You’ll then see a windows with a series of tabs. Click on the tab that says ‘Storage’ and the following windows will appear:

Click on the ‘Empty’ optical drive. On the right hand side, you will see a disk symbol next to where it says ‘IDE Secondary Master’. Click that symbol and select the PIXEL file you downloaded before. Finally, select the ‘Live CD/DVD’ and click on ‘OK’ in the bottom left hand corner.

Now your all set, click that green start button, cross your fingers and you will witness success (the Raspberry Pi logo followed by the desktop). You should also be able to access the internet via PIXEL!

I hope that you enjoy PIXEL now that it is installed on your computer. Feel free to comment if you have any questions.

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