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If I install Ubuntu along side my windows 7 installation can I then boot into the Ubuntu and launch the windows 7 via the virtual box? Or does the windows OS have to be installed via the virtual box to work?

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VirtualBox is a "virtual computer"; it looks like a full computer to the programs, and includes audio, video, disk drives, etc. When it starts out, it is like a brand new computer without anything installed.

If you have a Windows CD, you can install windows within VirtualBox just like installing it to a new computer; same with other Windows versions or Linux. You put the Cd in, or mount an ISO image of a CD, and reboot the virtual machine (called the "guest" OS). The host OS continues to run normally while this is happening.

But you can't run the existing windows 7 OS in virtual box, or simultaneously with Ubuntu.

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The question seems to ask if the Linux OS can run the Win OS on the other partition. The answer is "NO".

Virtual Box create a new "box" inside the Linux session, doesn't run the Windows installed alongside his Linux.

Different solutions are:

  • mount the Windows partition in Linux, in order to access data;
  • install windows program in Linux, via Wine or PlayOnLinux (that's a wrapper).
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Windows XP will work within Ubuntu virtualbox. This is how some gamers & other people run Windows programs.

Many people, myself included, run Windows7 programs with WINE, or PlayOnLinux, which to varying degrees of capability, might work.

Apple OS-X users have the similar problem. IMHO - to be an Apple OS-X user, you are best to avoid Apple-branded hardware because you can get better hardware components in PC and notebook world.

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