Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Thursday, October 15, 2020 at 23:19

We are fortunate to have a good virtual machine tool AQEMU on GNU/Linux operating systems. With AQEMU on your Ubuntu computer, you can virtualize any operating systems very easily. It can replace and works similarly to the proprietary tool VirtualBox or VMWare step by step as you can see in this tutorial. Now let's learn virtualization!

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What Is Virtualization

Virtualization is running an operating system on top of other operating system. The result is two or more operating systems running at the same time. To do virtualization, people use tools like Xen, VirtualBox*, VMWare*, Fusion*, or Virtual PC*. However, GNU operating systems with Linux kernel have advanced virtualization technology named AQEMU which is a complete solution similar to VirtualBox or VMWare. In a virtualization, the OS that runs the virtual machine called host or hypervisor, while the OS that is running in that virtual machine is called guest.

*) Proprietary software.



To do virtualization with AQEMU you will do 5 steps:

  • 1) Creating a new virtual machine.
  • 2) Creating virtual memory.
  • 3) Creating virtual hard disk drive.
  • 4) Adding OS image.
  • 5) Run virtual machine.



On Ubuntu operating systems, you can get it from Software Center. Example below is AQEMU found in Discover the software center on my Kubuntu computer.


Find AQEMU blue logo on your start menu and run it.

Example above is AQEMU found on Kubuntu start menu and also appeared on desktop wallpaper area. That means AQEMU has been installed on my Kubuntu computer. The start menu has been changed into classic style and AQEMU is located under System category. Your GNU/Linux computer should looks similarly.

Initializing AQEMU

Before anything, when you first launch AQEMU, you should do the initial setup. It asks you two things which are first create a hidden directory for everything, and second find the actual QEMU installed program on your system. Important: it is better to choose directory path in the largest free space disk drive you have as virtual hard disk files will be stored in this directory by default.

  1. By default, AQEMU displays a .aqemu folder path which is located in your home directory. In this example I let it be the default which is located in my home directory in my 20 GB filesystem disk drive. Click Next.

  2. It asks for where the QEMU program is exactly located in your computer. Click Search button and it will instantly find them. For example, in my Kubuntu they are located in two folders /usr/bin/ and /bin.

  3. It shows “finished” message. That means everything is okay and now you are ready to do virtualization.

  4. Successful AQEMU initial setup will look like picture above. It is AQEMU window with all buttons and an empty virtual machine list with all tabs displayed vertically.

1. Creating a Virtual Machine

First thing to do is creating a virtual computer or also known as a virtual machine.

  1. Go to menubar VM > Add VM > Add New VM > first page showing choices > select Typical > go Next.

  2. By default, AQEMU supports four different operating systems which are GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, Windows, and MacOS plus ability to generate your own support for another OS if you wish. Because this tutorial wants to virtualize Trisquel which is GNU/Linux, we will select Linux 2.6 template. On this second page, select Template > select Linux 2.6 > go next.

  3. On the third page, select KVM > go next. If you cannot select KVM here, enable Intel-VT or AMD-V virtualization feature on your BIOS and try again.

  4. On fourth page, give name to your virtual machine. Name it gnu. Go next.

  5. On fifth page, determine how much virtual hard disk size for your virtual machine. Normally GNU/Linux desktops are fine with just 20 GB. This hard disk is represented as file by size you chose in your computer hard disk drive. Go next.

  6. On sixth page, so that your guest OS can connect to the internet, select User Mode Network and go next.

  7. Finished everything on seventh page. Now click Finish.

  8. AQEMU with one virtual machine created will look like this. Pay attention to the five tabs presented vertically [Info] [VM] [Media] [Display] [Network].

2. Creating Virtual Memory

Second thing to do is determining how much memory for your virtual machine taken from your real computer memory. Select your VM name gnu > open the tab [VM] > set the memory to 1500 MB > Apply. 

By making virtual memory, your computer will share several GB memory for host and several GB other for guest. Bigger memory size means more applications to run on the guest but also fewer task can do on the host. For virtualizing modern operating systems like Ubuntu Desktop and Microsoft Windows, today >=1.5 GigaByte or 1500 MegaBytes virtual memory is good. For lightweight and old operating systems like Lubuntu or Windows 98, half gigabyte or >=512 MegaByte is enough. For example, as I want to run Trisquel 9 Etiona which runs well under 1GB memory, I determine here 1.5 GB for virtual machine so my host computer still has the rest 2.5 GB.

3. Creating Virtual Hard Disk

Third thing to do is creating a new virtual hard disk. Imagine this as hard disk drive where you install the operating system into. If you already made your virtual hard disk in previous step, skip this. If you want to change or move it to another disk partition, do this. 

  1. First thing is to see whether your VM has a virtual hard disk or not. Select your VM name from the list > open the tab [Media] > your virtual hard disk should exists there with the name HDA (/path/to/file). If it does not exist, or if you want to change it, go to next step. If you see everything is OK, skip this section and go to next section.

  2. To create new one, select existing HDA > click Manage Devices Properties (pen on paper button) > Properties dialog appears > click Create (green plus button) > Create dialog appears > click Browse > name the virtual disk image file > place the image file in computer disk drive with most free space > OK > select Format: qcow2 > determine size 20 GB > click Create. For example, I placed my file in my data partition New Volume (/media/master/New Volume/gnu-virtual-hard-disk-drive.img).

  3. A dialog appears informing that the virtual hard disk drive creation was created successfully.

  4. You went back to Properties dialog. Here you see your virtual hard disk drive image file is correctly located in the path you have created. In my example, it is /media/master/New Volume/gnu-virtual-hard-disk-drive.img. Close Properties dialog.

  5. AQEMU with a virtual hard disk drive set properly.

4. Adding OS Image

This is where you insert operating system image file you desire. For example, here I insert Trisquel GNU/Linux. The file extension is .iso by size 1.7GiB and my Kubuntu categorized it as raw CD image as you can see below.

  1. Make sure you know where you store the OS image file. For example, my Trisquel image by 1.7GiB size is stored in Downloads folder in my home directory.

  2. Go back to [Media] tab > click Add Devices CD (CD button) > Properties dialog appears > click folder button > Open File dialog appears > browse and find the image file > select the image file > Open > you went back to Properties dialog > OK.

  3. AQEMU with a virtual hard disk drive and an ISO image file means ready to run virtualization.

5. Running Virtual Machine

Select your VM name > go to menubar VM > Start (Ctrl+S). Now you should see the operating system runs. This results in two operating systems running where one as host and another one as guest. In this example, my Kubuntu is the host where my Trisquel is the guest. This is the stage where you start the fun. You can install the operating system or simply preview it (LiveCD). For Windows and macOS and alike they can only be installed and cannot be previewed. But for GNU/Linux OSes they can be installed as well as previewed (LiveCD) and my Trisquel is one.

6. Stop Virtual Machine

To stop virtual machine, go to virtual machine window menu bar Machine > Power Down. To restart, select Reset instead of Power Down. Alternatively, inside the virtual machine simply use Shutdown or Restart button available on the operating system. It is just like real computer, you can reboot or shutdown it.



That’s all with AQEMU use basics. This doesn’t give you more techniques like USB connectivity or advanced ones like networking but I wish it’s enough for beginners to start their virtualization life. By making this article I want people to recognize the free software AQEMU as the alternative to the proprietary VMWare or the – unfortunately – currently nonfree VirtualBox.