How Do I Run a Web Server in VirtualBox?


Scott Campbell

Running a web server in VirtualBox is a useful skill to have, especially if you are a developer or someone who wants to experiment with web technologies without affecting your main system. In this tutorial, we will walk you through the steps to set up and run a web server using VirtualBox.

Before we begin, make sure you have VirtualBox installed on your machine. If not, head over to the official VirtualBox website and download the latest version for your operating system. Once installed, launch VirtualBox and let’s get started!

Step 1: Create a New Virtual Machine
To run a web server in VirtualBox, you need to create a new virtual machine. Click on the “New” button in the toolbar or go to “Machine” > “New.”

Give your virtual machine a name and select the type and version of the operating system you plan to use. For running a web server, you can choose an OS like Ubuntu or CentOS.

Tip: It is recommended to allocate at least 2GB of RAM for your virtual machine to ensure smooth performance.

Step 2: Configure the Virtual Machine
After creating the virtual machine, it’s time to configure its settings. Click on your newly created virtual machine and then click on the “Settings” button in the toolbar or go to “Machine” > “Settings.”

Network: In the settings window, navigate to the “Network” tab. Here, select “Bridged Adapter” from the “Attached to” dropdown menu. This will allow your virtual machine to have its own IP address on your local network.

Shared Folders: If you want to share files between your host machine and the virtual machine (for example, serving files from your host’s filesystem), navigate to the “Shared Folders” tab. Click on the “Add new shared folder” button and select the folder you want to share.

Tip: Make sure to enable the “Auto-mount” option to automatically mount the shared folder when the virtual machine starts.

Step 3: Install the Operating System
Now that your virtual machine is configured, it’s time to install the operating system. Click on your virtual machine and then click on the “Start” button in the toolbar or go to “Machine” > “Start.”

ISO Image: In the VirtualBox main window, click on the small folder icon next to the dropdown menu that says “Empty.” Select the ISO image of your chosen operating system and click “Start.”

Follow the installation wizard for your chosen operating system. Once installed, you will have a fully functional virtual machine ready for running a web server.

Step 4: Install a Web Server
With your virtual machine up and running, it’s time to install a web server. Open a terminal or command prompt window within your virtual machine.

For Ubuntu:

  • Type sudo apt update to update package lists.
  • Type sudo apt install apache2 to install Apache web server.
  • Type y when prompted for confirmation.

For CentOS:

  • Type sudo yum update to update package lists.
  • Type sudo yum install httpd to install Apache web server.

Once installed, start the web server by typing:

$ sudo systemctl start apache2 (for Ubuntu)

$ sudo systemctl start httpd (for CentOS)

Step 5: Test the Web Server
To test if your web server is running correctly, open a web browser on your host machine and enter the IP address of your virtual machine. You should see the default Apache web page.

If you shared a folder between your host and virtual machine, you can also test serving a custom webpage. Create an HTML file in the shared folder and access it through the web browser using the IP address of your virtual machine.

Congratulations! You have successfully set up and run a web server in VirtualBox. Now you can experiment with different web technologies without impacting your main system.

Remember to stop the virtual machine when you’re done experimenting by going to “Machine” > “Close” or clicking on the red “X” button in the VirtualBox toolbar.

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