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How to Use Multiple Operating Systems on a Single Computer

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

Kenneth Etuk @K.Etuk / 6:00 PM EDT. September 26, 2022.


There are several Operating Systems (OS) out there and each one, with its different look and feel, has its different area(s) of focus, capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. While there are many OS for personal computers, the popular ones include Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, and Ubuntu.

The choice of which OS to run depends on several factors. Foremost among them is the architecture of the OS and its capabilities. As a tech expert, you may from time to time have a need to run processes on different OS. Software developers may, for instance, need to test their code on different operating systems.

A DevOps Engineer running a Windows machine may need to have Linux installed to facilitate his work. A game tester may need to switch between different operating systems so as not to be limited by specific game compatibility issues. There are indeed endless scenarios to point to.

The obvious solution would be to purchase and own several machines running a different OS to achieve this. But with the multitude of operating systems out there, this may not be the most practical solution.

A practical solution -- especially if you are on a budget, would be to run several OS on a single machine using virtualization. While there are several virtualization tools out there, this tutorial is intended to teach you how to run multiple operating systems on a single machine using VirtualBox. The example will demonstrate using a VirtualBox to run Ubuntu on a Windows and a Mac machine. However, by downloading another operating system other than Ubuntu, you can vary the steps outlined in this tutorial slightly to run another OS of your choice.

VirtualBox is the only professional solution out there that is freely available under the Open-Source Software License. As a virtualization tool, it is a powerful feature-rich tool that can run on x86 and AMD64/Intel64 and is also intended for enterprise and home use. Once you have VirtualBox installed, your other operating system will be able to run on VirtualBox.

Downloading VirtualBox

To download VirtualBox, do the following:

  1. Navigate to

  2. Under the VirtualBox packages, click on a package matching your operating system.

Wait for the package to download to your computer.

Downloading Ubuntu Server

  1. Navigate to

  2. Scroll down to and click on Ubuntu Server


Click on Download Ubuntu Server 22.04 LTS


Wait for the download to complete and appear in your download folder.

Installing VirtualBox on Windows Machine

  1. Locate the downloaded package in your computer download folder and double-click on it. (To install VirtualBox on Windows, you need to ensure that Virtualization is turned on in your computer BIOS).

  2. On the installation page that shows up click on New


3. On the Name and Operating system page type “focal” in the Name field and choose “Linux” in the Type field. Select Ubuntu 64-bit in the Version dropdown menu and click Continue.


4. On the Memory Size window type in 2048MB and click Continue


5. On the Hard, Disk page, check the “Create virtual disk now” radio button and click on Continue.

6. On the Hard Disk file type page leave VDI (Virtualize Disk Image) radio button checked and click continue.


7. On the storage on the physical hard disk page, leave the dynamically allocated fixed size radio button checked and click continue.


8. On the file location and size page, choose the directory you want your files saved (it is recommended to leave the default location) and add about 30GB of space and click on Create.


9. You should see the below screen with all the parameters indicated. Now go to settings

10. Next, click on Storage (1) and click on the small Optical drive button (2)

11. On the next screen click on Add.

12. On the file explorer page navigate to the directory where your Ubuntu was downloaded and double-click on the Ubuntu package to load it.

13. On the next page click on Choose.

14. On the next screen click on OK.

15. On the final configuration page click on the Start button the launch the Ubuntu server#

The VirtualBox should launch and load the Ubuntu server. If you get the below page, then everything works ok, in which case you need to wait for the server to initialize. For macOS however, you would need to authorize the server to load by granting privilege in your computer settings.

To achieve that do the following: Go to System preferences > Privacy > Unlock privacy with passcode > Details > Check the box to allow Oracle America, Inc. to load. You would have to restart your computer.

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