Installing Manjaro inside a VirtualBox virtual machine is a great way to give the operating system a test run or to install some Linux software that you don't want to run on your main system. If you're a Windows user, this is also a convenient way to stick a toe in the water with Linux, with the other option being to dual boot Windows 10 and Manjaro.

Manjaro is a user friendly Linux distribution with a lot of features to offer. In this tutorial, we'll guide you through the installation of Manjaro on a virtual machine and show you the best configuration options to get the most out of the VM.

In this tutorial you will learn:
  • How to install Manjaro in a VirtualBox virtual machine
  • Optimal settings for a Manjaro VM
Installing Manjaro inside VirtualBox
Installing Manjaro inside VirtualBox
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Manjaro Linux
Software VirtualBox
Other Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the sudo command.
Conventions # - requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ - requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

Prerequisites


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To get started, you'll really just need two things. You need to download Manjaro and download VirtualBox. There are a lot of editions available for Manjaro that differ by the GUI installed. It doesn't matter whether you choose XFCE, KDE, GNOME, or any other desktop environment, or go with the command line installer Manjaro Architect. VirtualBox can install any of them, so just choose whichever you prefer.

Create a New Virtual Machine

This section of the tutorial will guide you through setting up the new virtual machine with optimal settings. Once you have VirtualBox installed and your Manjaro ISO file downloaded, follow along with the steps below to create a new virtual machine in VirtualBox.

  1. Get started by opening VirtualBox and clicking the "new" button at the top.

    Click the New button start creating a new VM
    Click the New button start creating a new VM
  2. Now you'll select a name for the virtual machine and a location for the files to be stored. It's important that you choose "Type: Linux" and "Version: Arch Linux." Manjaro is based on Arch Linux, so that's why it's safe to let VirtualBox think we're running Arch (there is no option to select Manjaro).

    Let VirtualBox think that we are installing Arch Linux
    Let VirtualBox think that we are installing Arch Linux
  3. Next you will select how much RAM to allocate for the new virtual machine. By default, VirtualBox suggests 1 GB (1024 MB) of memory. And the Manjaro system requirements concur with this recommendation. However, the VM will run noticeably smoother if you allocate 2 GB or more, so consider increasing if you can spare it.

    Select the allocated memory for the Manjaro VM
    Select the allocated memory for the Manjaro VM


  4. You can click through the next few menus and keep everything at the default/suggested values, until you reach the "file location and size" screen. This is where you choose the size of your hard drive. We recommend 15 GB or more, depending on how much software you plan to install on it. Click "create" after you've chosen a size for the hard drive.

    Select the size of the Manjaro VM hard drive
    Select the size of the Manjaro VM hard drive

The virtual machine has been created, but we still need to install Manjaro on it. See the next section for instructions.

Install Manjaro in a VirtualBox Virtual Machine

  1. Highlight your newly created VM and click "start" at the top.
  2. Since there is no operating system to load, VirtualBox will ask us for the location of an installer image. Click on the little folder icon to open the optical disk selector.

    Choose a virtual optical disk file
    Choose a virtual optical disk file


  3. Next, click on "add" to locate the Manjaro ISO file you downloaded earlier, then select your ISO file and click "open".

    Click the Add button and locate the Manjaro ISO file
    Click the Add button and locate the Manjaro ISO file
  4. Your VM will boot to the ISO file and you can install Manjaro. Follow along with our Manjaro Linux installation guide if you need any more help. The operating system will install to the virtual machine exactly as it would on a physical machine - you don't need to do anything special.

    The ISO file has been loaded and now we can select to begin the installer
    The ISO file has been loaded and now we can select to begin the installer

Manjaro VirtualBox Settings

In order to get resolution scaling to work, VirtualBox recommends changing the graphics controller to "VBoxSVGA," as you can see in this screenshot:

VBoxSVGA is the recommended setting for graphics controller
VBoxSVGA is the recommended setting for graphics controller

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Personally, I've had varying levels of success with that method. It seems to break every once in a while when a new update comes out either for Manjaro or VirtualBox. To try it, just make sure the virtual machine is totally powered off, right click it, and open settings. You'll be able to change the graphics controller in the display menu.

Changing the graphics controller inside the VM settings menu
Changing the graphics controller inside the VM settings menu

If that doesn't work and you need to change the resolution of the virtual machine, you're probably stuck with just changing the resolution within Manjaro's settings. That method always works.

While you're in the settings menu, you may want to consider allocating another CPU core (or 2) to your Manjaro VM, as long as you can spare it. This isn't a setting that can be configured when creating the VM, but it's a good one to change now for increased smoothness. Look inside the "processor" settings under "system."



Adjusting the processor settings inside the VM settings menu
Adjusting the processor settings inside the VM settings menu

If you'd like to utilize a shared clipboard between the host OS and virtual machine, as well as drag and drop functionality, you will need to install VirtualBox guest additions.

Closing Thoughts

VirtualBox really makes it easy to run a separate system on your computer without needing the extra hardware. Having a virtualized version of Manjaro gives you a lot of flexibility to test applications or maintain a separated environment from your host system.

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