I use Windows 8.1 and I want to play around with Linux, but I have no clue how to start. Could you guys direct me towards any guides that would help? Thanks a lot!
Hi there alex_vandyke.
There are different programs that allow you to do this. I use VirtualBox. It works and I like (but I haven't tried any of the others) I briefly looked over this guide http://www.psychocats.net/ubuntu/virtualbox and it seems to be pretty good. The menus in the version you download may look slightly different, but all the instructions still apply. The guide assumes you are installing Ubuntu. If this is not the case, all the instructions are the same except you will have a different name for your virtual machine (if you want, it doesn't really matter) and you will choose whatever iso you have instead of the Ubuntu iso.
I also recommend installing the VirtualBox extension pack right after you install Virtualbox found here https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads . This will give you access to USB 2.0 support within your guest machine (i.e. the OS you install with Virtualbox). Another feature you might be interested in is shared folders. You can create a folder somewhere on Windows and fill it with whatever you like. You can then transfer those files to your guest machine by following the tutorial here https://help.ubuntu.com/community/VirtualBox/SharedFolders .
Finally, there are some tweaks you can do to help your guest machine run better. If you go into Settings for your guest machine and click on the System submenu then select Enable I/O APIC if it is not already enabled. Then click on the Processor tab and you will see a slider for increasing the number of processor cores available to the guest. Usually if you keep it in the green your performance will be fine. Also, you can go to the Display submenu and increase the amount of video memory available to the guest and enable 3D acceleration. These settings are completely optional and may not be ideal depending on your hardware, but it may be a way to get better performance out of your guest.
Virtual machines are a great way to test out a new OS, but do keep in mind that the performance will undoubtedly be better when installed directly on your hard drive. Linux guests use divers specific to VirtualBox, and (as far as I know) can't make use of your graphics card.
Good luck.Have fun.
@DHMXIV That was extremely helpful, thank you!