Appliance Installation Tutorial with VirtualBox (New)

1: Pre-Installation

Installing to a VirtualBox VM (Virtual Machine) is one of the fastest and easiest ways to get up and running with TurnKey Linux. The open source edition of VirtualBox can be downloaded for free from the VirtualBox website.

As the following step by step tutorial shows, once you are familiar with the basics, deploying an appliance takes just a few minutes. The installation process is the same for all appliances. 

VirtualBox vs VMWare (and others)

VirtualBox is the most popular open source alternative to VMWare's proprietary virtualization products. VMWare is not open source but some of its products are also available for free download (e.g., VMWare Player and VMWare Server).

TurnKey Linux is designed to work well with both VMWare and VirtualBox (and other platforms). This tutorial focuses on VirtualBox, but the principles are the same regardless of what virtualization software you use.

Begin by downloading and installing VirtualBox, a free software virtualization program available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. It's preferable to use a recent version (5.X and up).

If you intend to run a 64bit build, you will also need to ensure that hardware virtualization is enabled in your system BIOS/UEFI before proceeding. Virtualbox cannot create 64bit virtual machines without these virtualization capabilities. Depending on your system, hardware virtualization may be either enabled or disabled by default.

  • Intel users: enable Intel Virtualization technology (VT-x) in your BIOS/UEFI.
  • AMD users: enable AMD Virtualization (AMD-V) in your BIOS/UEFI.

2: Installation - Choose a build type

Appliances are available in multiple build types which work well with VirtualBox:

  • VM optimized images
    1. Default OVA build: it's a ZIP file containing the default VM build converted to OVF format, which is easier to work with sometimes (e.g., high-end VMWare products).
    2. VMDK build: it's a ZIP file containing a ready-to-run VMDK hard disk image which includes a virtualization optimized kernel and VMWare tools.
  • Generic ISO image: Live CD image that can be installed anywhere, including bare metal and most types of virtual machine.

Confused which to choose? Just download default VM build and use that. It's the first download link on the appliance page.

If you are installing from a VM optimized image, consult 3a below. If you are installing from an ISO, scroll down further and consult 3b.

3a: Deploying a VM optimized image

Create new VM

Exactly how you setup a VM image depends on whether you've downloaded the default VM build or the VMDK version. Both work equally well with VirtualBox.

If you've downloaded the default VM build:

  1. Under the File menu, select Import Appliance.
  2. Direct the file browser to the OVA file.
  3. Double click Guest OS Type and select Linux > Ubuntu
  4. Press Import to create the VM.

If you've downloaded the VMDK version:

  1. Unzip the downloaded file.
  2. In Virtualbox, press New to open the VM creation wizard.
  3. Give the VM a name. Select Linux in the Type menu and Ubuntu in the Version menu.
  4. Allocate at least 256mb of RAM to the VM.
  5. Select Use an existing virtual hard disk file. Direct the file browser to the unzipped VMDK file. Press Create to finish and close the wizard.


Basic VM configuration

After you've created the new VM, you'll need to tweak its configuration:

  1. Settings > System > Processor > Enable PAE/NX
    • PAE: This is required as the Linux-virtual kernel in the VM optimized images uses PAE to allow addressing of more than 4GB of memory.
    • NX: refers to the CPU feature required by VirtualBox to support PAE. All new CPUs support NX but some older ones may not.
      • Troubleshooting: On old hardware if the VM refuses to boot, you may need to install from ISO instead.
  2. Settings > Network > Adapter 1 > Attach to: bridged
    Bridging your VM connects it to the local network your host machine is on (there are other options that are explained here).

You may now boot your virtual appliance for the first time.

3b: Deploying an ISO image

Create a new Virtual Machine

Start VirtualBox and click the New button from the menu. This starts the VM (Virtual Machine) creation wizard. In the wizard:

  1. Give the new VM a name. Select Linux in the Type dropdown menu and Ubuntu from the Version menu.
  2. Allocate at least 256mb of Ram in the following menu.
  3. Select create a virtual hard disk now and press create. Select VDI (Virtualbox Disk Image) as the disk file type.
  4. Choose how you want the VM to use your physical hard disk:
    • Selecting dynamic allocation will allow the virtual machine to automatically allocate space on your virtual hard disk until it reaches the maximum capacity that is assigned to it. By default, this maximum capacity is 8 GB. To alter this value, press next and adjust the slider. Press Create to close the wizard and generate the VM.
    • Selecting fixed size will prevent the virtual machine from automatically allocating further space. Note that choosing this may increase the time needed to create the VM. Once you have assigned a size to your virtual disk, press Create to close the wizard and generate the VM.

After exiting from the VM creation wizard, you'll see your new VM in the machine list on the main screen as shown below.

Configuring the Virtual Machine

Next you'll need to tweak a few configuration settings for the new VM (e.g., Network, CD image, Boot order). With your new VM selected, click the Settings button to start.

Configure boot order

In the System section, click on the Motherboard tab and change the boot order so that Hard Disk is above Optical as shown below. This will cause the virtual machine to boot straight from the virtual hard disk once the installation is complete.

Note for users with AMD CPUs: if you have an AMD Phenom or Barcelona-level Opteron CPU, you may need to enable IO APIC here to work around a Linux kernel bug.

Configure network

Under the first adapter tab in the Network section, attach your VM to a Bridged Adapter as shown below. This bridges your VM to the local network your host machine is connected to.  If you have multiple network interface cards on the host, select which of them you want your VM to attach to. If unsure, experiment. You can always change this later.



  1. Back in the VirtualBox main menu, select your Virtual Machine and click on the Start button. You will then be prompted to select a start-up disk. Direct the file browser to your ISO image and press Start. Once the VM starts, you will see the boot loader menu. Select the Install to hard disk option with the keyboard and press Enter.This boots straight into the appliance's installer.  Select the default "Guided" partitioning method, which figures out how to partition the virtual hard disk automatically. If unsure, just confirm the defaults.
  2. Confirm the re-partitioning of the virtual hard disk.

  3. When prompted, install the GRUB boot loader to the master boot record.

The installer will now quickly install the appliance to the virtual hard disk. Usually this takes about a minute. When installation is complete, restart the appliance. The system will then reboot from the virtual Hard Disk.

The first time the system boots, you'll be taken to various configuration screens that will vary depending on the appliance that has been installed:

  • You will be asked to set passwords for all relevant accounts.
  • If you have an API key for TurnKey Hub Services, you may enter it when prompted. Note that this may be done at a later time through the command line.
  • You will also be prompted with options to enable local system notifications regarding critical security threats and to install security updates (requires an internet connection). 

After that the first boot will be complete and you'll reach the Configuration Console's Usage screen. You can now log into your newly installed TurnKey appliance through your web browser by entering one of the IP addresses listed at this screen.