How to install a free legal Windows in VirtualBox

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How to install a free legal Windows in VirtualBox in Linux Mint

Unfortunately, some people still need Windows for a particular end. For example when they have a navigation device that can only be updated by means of a Windows application....

If this applies to you as well, then you can make use of VirtualBox and a free legal Virtual Machine (VM) with Windows 10.

Running such a VM is safe for your Linux: even if a Windows VM would become infected with viruses and malware, it can't do any harm at all to your Linux. That's because a VM runs in a virtualized sandbox, which effectively isolates it from the underlying operating system.

You can achieve this as follows:

1. First install VirtualBox and its extension pack. In the following way:

Launch a terminal window.
(You can launch a terminal window like this: *Click*)

Type or use copy/paste in order to avoid errors (this is one line!):

sudo apt-get install virtualbox virtualbox-qt virtualbox-ext-pack virtualbox-guest-additions-iso

Press Enter. Type your password when prompted. In Ubuntu this remains entirely invisible, not even dots will show when you type it, that's normal. In Mint this has changed: you'll see asterisks when you type. Press Enter again.

Now you'll be prompted to agree to reading a license agreement from Oracle. Press the Tab key to activate the <Ok> "button" (it becomes red then) and press Enter. See the screenshot below:

With that, you've confirmed that you've read it. Only then you'll be presented with the actual agreement screen (sigh....). Select Yes with the Tab key and press Enter.

2. Add yourself to the group "vboxusers". By means of the terminal:

sudo adduser your_own_username vboxusers

Note: the username must only contain lowercase letters, because "under the hood" your username doesn't contain capital letters. So user "John" types here "john" (instead of "your_own_username").

3. Reboot your computer.

4. Now download a free legal VM with Windows 10. You can use this legal VM with Windows 10 for 90 days. Don't forget to activate it, by means of the DOS command slmgr /ato (see the instruction on the wallpaper of Windows 10).

After those 90 days you can simply delete the existing VM and import a new clean VM, which should give you another 90 days. It's therefore useful to keep the downloaded file; after three months, that'll save you some time.....

Legal note: the Microsoft license for these VM's states: "You may use the software for testing purposes only". There's no further explanation given of the term "testing purposes" though, and no time limit to your testing other than the maximal activation period.

This implies that it's entirely up to you: when you think you're done with testing, you should buy a license or stop using the VM.

In case you'd want to buy a Windows license, that can often be done very cheaply, for example at

5. Unzip the VM (it's a .ova file).

6. Launch Oracle VM Virtualbox and select in its panel: File - Import Appliance...
Import the .ova file.

7. Click on the imported VM - click Settings - USB - select USB 2.0 (EHCI) Controller

8. Now click on Snapshots and create a snapshot, for renewed activation when the current activationhas lapsed. Then you don't even have to delete the existing VM; you can simply restore the snapshot for another 90 days of use.

9. Start the VM and wait until Windows has completed booting.

10. In the panel of VirtualBox: Devices - Insert Guest Additions CD image...
Now wait; this can take a long time.

Then click on VBoxWindowsAdditions.exe in order to install it.

After the installation of the Guest Additions, you'll be asked to reboot Windows. Do so.

11. After Windows has rebooted, you can add USB devices. First connect them to your computer. Then in the panel of VirtualBox: Devices - USB - click on your device. This should enable Windows to install it. Note: you have to repeat this click on your device, every time you boot the VM. Because with that click, you transfer the device from Linux to Windows.

12. Your Windows 10 VM should now be fully functional.

Important warnings:

- Always shut Windows down by means of its own Start button and not by means of the VirtualBox menu bar.

- Don't use the VM for random web browsing: it's much safer to use Linux for that....

- If you're running it from an SSD: disable defragmentation in Windows, or it'll wear out your SDD.

- Note that transferring a USB storage device (like a USB thumb drive or USB hard drive) to the VM, unmounts that storage device "uncleanly" in the Linux that hosts the VM. Theoretically, this could cause loss of data.

Tip: do you also want to run another Linux in VirtualBox? Then simply create a new virtual machine in VirtualBox, launch the new VM and select the .iso file of that other Linux as "boot disk". For full screen, don't forget to install the packages virtualbox-guest-x11 and virtualbox-guest-dkms in that Linux VM.

Want more tips?

Do you want more tips and tweaks? There's a lot more of them on this website!

For example:

Speed up your Linux Mint!

Clean your Linux Mint safely

Avoid 10 fatal mistakes

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