Manjaro Linux has long been one of my favorite Linux distributions. The distro offers multiple desktop environments out of the box, is feature packed, and has a fantastic community. In this guide, I’ll show you how to set up a virtual desktop running Manjaro with a Windows host. I’ll also be sharing how to do the reverse as well in an upcoming video, running Windows 10 on top of Manjaro. Keep an eye out for a video guide soon as well, which I’ll update with a link here.

Ready? Let’s go!

Before Starting, Make Sure You Meet These Minimum Requirements

  • RAM (Random Access Memory)

    One gigabyte of memory. The more memory you have, the more tasks the computer can do at once.

  • Disk Space

    We recommend that you have at least 30 gigabytes of hard disk space.

  • Processor

    You should have at least a one gigahertz processor.

  • HD Graphics Card & Monitor

    This one isn't necessary, but it will help make things look better.

  • Broadband Internet

    You'll want decent download speeds to grab the necessary files

Getting Started

virtualbox download

To begin, we will need to download both VirtualBox and a Manjaro ISO.

Click the button below to go to VirtualBox’s download page. Once downloaded, run through the installation process.

virtualbox logo
manjaro logo

Click the button below to go to Manjaro’s download page. In this guide I will be using the Gnome desktop environment, but feel free to pick one that you like. 

While you’re on VirtualBox’s download page, go ahead and grab the VM VirtualBox Extension Pack as well and install it.

virtualbox guest download

Navigating VirtualBox

Once you have installed VirtualBox and grabbed your Manjaro ISO, you are ready to configure and set up your virtual machine. To begin, click “new” next to the plus icon on the top right of VirtualBox.  You will be prompted to give your Virtual Machine (VM) a name and the location you wish to save it. I recommend naming it Manjaro for simplicity. You notice that when you enter in the name, that the type will automatically change to Linux. Once you have filled in that information, select “Next.”

adding a new virtual machine

Then, you’ll be given the option to assign how much memory (RAM) you want to assign to your VM. Of course, the more RAM you have on your system, the more you can share with Manjaro. I do not recommend sharing more than 50% of your memory however. Remember, your host (in this case Windows 10)  needs memory to function as well. On my system I have 16 GB of RAM, so I’m going to give Manjaro 8 GB to use.

VM memory

On the next screen, you can choose whether you want to create a “virtual hard disk” for your virtual machine. You also have the option to skip adding one, or use an existing one. If you skip adding it, keep in mind that you will not be able to save anything on your VM and that every time you restart it, you will have to reinstall the OS. For my machine, I’m going to go ahead and create a new virtual hard disk.

You are given three options for the type of hard disk you want to add. For this guide, I’m going to go with the first option: VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image).

select vm disk type

Next, you can choose whether to have your hard disk be a fixed size or to dynamically grow as you fill it up (you’ll set a maximum disk size). For my usage, I’ll be setting a fixed size of 10 GB.

Once you select your disk type and size, VirtualBox will create your drive. It will then take you back to the main screen and show you the settings for your virtual machine.

vm settings

Installing Manjaro

manjaro

Now that we have set up the parameters for the virtual machine, we are now ready to install Manjaro to it. Click on the settings gear in the top menu. The first setting that we want to adjust is in the system tab. Go to System and then select processor. Here you will be given the option for how much processing power you want to assign to Manjaro. The amount you can give is based on your hosts hardware. Typically, I will assign my VM 50% of what I have available.

Next, go to the display tab. From here, slide  the video memory slider all the way to the right. This will help to smooth out the rendering performance for your VM. 

Then, click on storage in the left menu and navigate to the empty disk under “Controller: IDE.” Once you click the empty disk, you’ll have an optical drive come up on the right. Click of the image of a disk to the far right of the optical drive and select “Choose a disk file” (see the below screenshot). This will open up an Explorer window; simply navigate and select the Manjaro ISO that you downloaded previously.

Screenshot (5)

After you have selected the ISO, go ahead and click OK at the bottom. 

You will then be taken back to the main page for VirtualBox. You are now ready to press Start at the top to turn on your virtual machine. You may be prompted to choose your startup disk; simply choose Manjaro from the drop down. Your virtual machine will begin to initialize, and you’ll be brought to your new Manjaro desktop.

 

manjaro desktop
install manjaro

From here you can either play around with the settings, or you can choose to install Manjaro to the disk drive that we created earlier. This will allow you to keep any documents and changes that you make to the system every time that you power it on. 

To install it to the drive, click the “Install Manjaro Linux” icon. This will be located either on the taskbar / menu or on the desktop, depending on which desktop environment you downloaded.

At this point, installation is simply a matter of following the installer prompts. You’ll be asked to set your language, keyboard and location. You’ll also be asked where you would like to install Manjaro. Clicking “Erase Disk” will default the installer to use up the entire virtual disk that we created earlier. You can also manage the partitions on your disk yourself for more control. For this guide, we recommend just erasing the disk and letting Manjaro handle the rest.

 

erase disk

Lastly, you will be asked for your user information. This will be used to create a user account for logging in and installing software. Once you fill out that final page, the installation process will begin. As soon as it finishes, Manjaro will restart and you will be brought into your desktop environment where you can log in with your newly created user.

Final Thoughts

VirtualBox is a fantastic piece of software. With it, you can run Linux distributions, different versions of Windows, and even Mac OS. And the best part is that you can do all of this without making any serious changes or causing any damage to your host system. You can also spin up as many virtual machines as you like; your only limitation is your hardware.

I hope you enjoyed this guide. If you have any questions or thoughts, please leave me a comment below or send me a message by clicking the button below. 

I will also be adding a video guide for these steps, as well as a video on how to do the reverse: running Windows 10 on Manjaro with VirtualBox. I’ll post a link to it on the page soon.

That Tech Guy

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