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Introduced: The 20 best finished VMs

With a virtual machine you leave your Windows system untouched and work with secondary systems on your computer. A large selection of preconfigured machines for almost every purpose can be found on the Internet.

A virtual machine (VM) is a type of computer in the computer: virtualization software provides a shielded area of ​​the working memory and other hardware resources such as CPU, hard disk space and peripheral devices, where you can install another operating system and applications that are independent of the host system. In this way you can, for example, set up a Linux system under Windows so that it can only run programs available for Linux. Or you can set up a Windows system with a special configuration that is tailored to a specific task and that you only start when you actually need it. In a professional environment, virtual machines are also used for software tests or, for example, to monitor virus activity: The machine can be encapsulated in such a way that the malware is securely enclosed and cannot be transferred to the real computer.

However, setting up and configuring a virtual machine, including the operating system and applications, can be quite time-consuming. For this reason, there are now pre-configured machines from several providers that you just need to start. This works because virtual machines are in a single, large file that you only need to import into virtualization software and then start. For licensing reasons, the websites may not provide commercial software, so that the offer is almost exclusively limited to Linux distributions and applications. Only Microsoft makes an exception and offers a 90-day version of Windows 10 as a finished virtual machine.

You need that for a virtual machine

In the settings of the virtualization software, you can allocate more RAM to a VM and make further changes to the virtual and real hardware.

To be able to create, open and save a virtual machine, you need a virtualization software. The two most popular programs of this type are freeware VMware Workstation Player and it’s also free Virtualbox from Oracle. When researching this article, the Oracle software has proven to be less complicated. Vmware, on the other hand, had trouble correctly detecting the network adapter.

Starting a virtual machine with Virtualbox is easy. If you choose a VM from the provider Bitnami have decided (for example WordPress), usually proceed as follows: You download the file of the VM and start Virtualbox. Go to “File -› Import appliance “. In the window that opens, select the downloaded file. Everything else happens automatically.

So also the start of the VM (Wordpress in our example) with a login via the Linux system Debian. A little later, the IP address under which you can access the virtual machine software and the user name and password for logging in appear in yellow letters. To use the VM, open your browser in Windows and type in the IP address and the login data.

Do it differently if you have a VM from Osboxes want to start. In this case, click on “Machine -› New “in Virtual Box and enter any name in the following window. Select a folder that the machine should use, set the operating system, usually “Linux” next to “Type”, and the appropriate distribution next to “Version”, such as “Opensuse”. Click on “Next” and, depending on the configuration of your PC, enter the RAM that you want to make available to the machine. Click on Continue”. In the next window, select “Use existing hard disk” and click on the folder icon to the right of the selection menu. Click Add, highlight the downloaded virtual machine file, and click Open. It now appears at the bottom of the list under “Not Attached”. Select the file and click on “Select” and “Create”.

You will now find yourself on the start screen of Virtualbox. Select the new machine in the list on the left and click on “Start”. The virtual machine is running in the Virtualbox window.

Reading tip:

Virtualbox vs. VMware vs. Hyper-V: The best virtual PC

High level of difficulty with Linux VMs

The providers of the virtual machines make it as easy as possible for you. If there are dependencies in the programs, e.g. an application requires a database or PHP, this software is also already integrated and configured in the machine. However, if possible, you should already have some experience with Linux and server software, because many of the packages offered are very complex.

For example, many users fail to find the Wordpress log-in screen (you can access it via [IP-Adresse]/ wp-admin). The Bitnami & Co. documentation is not very helpful. You must do your own research on the software website and in help forums.

Even if there are problems with drivers or applications, you should have some experience with Linux. Virtually all of the virtual machines are based on Debian, but it is used without a graphical user interface.

Content management system: Joomla 3.9.15

While Wordpress (page 45) is primarily suitable for smaller projects such as private blogs, Joomla is primarily aimed at companies, associations and organizations that operate medium-sized websites. The software can be used, for example, to set up a website for an online magazine or an online shop; multilingual pages are also possible. In contrast to Wordpress, Joomla was initially designed for the design of websites. This system is particularly easy with this system, while you have to overcome a few hurdles to set up a blog. However, there is a large, helpful community that can help with virtually any problem.

Providers:

With Limesurvey you can generate surveys that are then sent by the program via email. The software is available at limesurvey.org as a web application or as here on Plus-DVD 2 or as a download. Automatically generated links are included in the emails, via which the respondents can reach the Limesurvey server on the Internet and enter their answers there. The administrator is then shown the evaluation. With Limesurvey you get professional software that provides various answer forms such as free text, multiple selection, matrix or rank. There are also many options for the layout of the questionnaires, although knowledge of web design is an advantage. Several assistants help build the questionnaires and organize the survey, but Limesurvey is not for beginners.

Providers:

Bitnami

For download

Operating system: Linux Mint 19.2

Thanks to the Cinnamon interface, Mint is the Linux system that Windows users can use to get around the fastest. Among other things, Mint offers a start menu, a desktop for storing files and a file manager and does a lot of things similar or even exactly like the competition from Redmond. The virtual machine offered by Osboxes is equipped with Libreoffice, Gimp and Firefox, so that many users encounter already known applications and can start working immediately. Mint is also surprisingly fast and can be used well on computers with less RAM. Linux Puritans will prefer Debian or Ubuntu, Mint is more suitable for occasional users.

Providers:

Osboxes

For download

Mediawiki is the software on which Wikipedia is based. It is therefore a system for managing content that can be edited, supplemented and deleted via the browser. The system is popular on the Internet, for example, for fan sites on TV series or games, for example, which give visitors quick access to the stored articles. Just like with Wikipedia, the content is sorted by keywords. A full-text search is also available, which can be used to search for information for which there is no separate article. There is also a user administration, through which the administrator can prohibit the processing of individual articles for certain accounts or in general.

Providers:

Bitnami

For download

Project management: Openproject 10.3.1

With the virtual machine from Openproject, you get a professional project management system on your computer that is also suitable for the requirements of larger companies. Among other things, the software offers customizable templates, Gantt charts, budget management, milestone tracking and functions for collaboration between multiple users. The development of the software is controlled by a German association, the programming itself is done by Openproject GmbH. Beginners need some time to familiarize themselves with the program – Openproject is much more bulky than Microsoft Project, for example. However, the basic version of the software can be used free of charge.

Providers:

Bitnami

For download

File hosting: Owncloud 10.3.2

Owncloud, as the name suggests, is a small-scale cloud service. You can use the software to create a file archive on a PC in your network, to which all or only selected users have access. An SQL database under the system, which is already contained in the virtual machine, ensures that the content always remains consistent. On the one hand, users can access the data via several Owncloud clients; there are versions for Windows, Linux and Mac OS, among others, but also for Android or iOS. In this case, the files on the server are automatically synchronized on request. Owncloud also offers access via the browser, so the user is independent of the operating system.

Providers:

Bitnami

For download

Operating system: Windows 10

Microsoft provides developers with a 90-day version of Windows 10 in the form of a virtual machine. However, the software is freely available, registration or the like is not required. In fact, at the time of the test, we got build 1809, which was not quite as fresh as it was. There was nothing to see from the pre-installed Visual Studio promised on the download page. But the virtual machine works and is even offered in four versions, namely for VMware, Virtual Box, Hyper-V and Parallels. Despite the limitation of the runtime, the system is well suited to, for example, trying out new software or recording a specific work environment. And after 90 days, you can simply delete the virtual machine and reinsert it.

Providers:

Microsoft

For download

Blog software: Wordpress 5.3.2

Wordpress is the most popular and widely used software for designing and organizing a blog on the Internet. Thanks to a lively community, there is extensive help in the form of documentation, forums and printed literature. In addition, there is an almost unmistakable abundance of extensions and themes. As soon as you understand the functioning of a blog in general and WordPress in particular, a beginner is able to put his first blog online in one afternoon. Wordpress is so flexible that it is not only suitable for publishing articles that have been added again and again. The software can also be used to create a static website.

Providers:

Bitnami

For download

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