How to add ISO images to VirtualBox 6

With one simple trick, you can make your VirtualBox VM creation much more efficient.

How to add ISO images to VirtualBox 6

VirtualBox is a great way for users, developers, and admins to not only test different operating systems, but to deploy virtual machines to your data centers of various types and purposes. One of the many reasons why I use VirtualBox to meet my VM needs is because it makes efficient work of virtual machine creation.

One area that VirtualBox really shows off its efficiency is the ability to reuse ISO images for the deployment of VMs. It's almost in a similar fashion to how you can reuse a Docker image to deploy containers. Once added to the system, you can deploy as many containers as you need--all from that single image.

But how do you add images to VirtualBox? You could add them on an as-needed basis, such as when you're creating a new VM, or you can use a tool to add as many ISO images as your data center may require, knowing they'll be at the ready when you go to create a new virtual machine. 

I want to show you how to add ISO images to VirtualBox so they're always at the ready when you want to create a new VM. 

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What you'll need

The only things you'll need to make this work are:

  • VirtualBox version 6.0 or newer

  • Some ISO images to add

How to use the Virtual Media Manager

The tool we'll be using is called the Virtual Media Manager. From within this tool you can add new hard disks, optical disks, and (if you have some seriously old legacy tech) floppy disks.

To use this tool, open VirtualBox and click File | Virtual Media Manager. In the resulting window (Figure A), click the Optical Disks tab.

Figure A


The VirtualBox Virtual Media Manager.

In the Optical Disks tab (Figure B), click Add in the top left corner.

Figure B


The Optical Disks tab of the Virtual Media Manager.

Locate the first ISO image you want to add and click Open (Figure C).

Figure C


Adding the Fedora Server ISO image.

Since you can only add one ISO image at a time, once the first ISO has been added, go back to the Optical Disks tab and add another. Keep doing this until you have all the ISO images added that you need.

The caveat

Once you've added those ISO images, they'll always be available to use when creating virtual machines, with two exceptions. If you either delete those ISO images from local storage, or move them into another directory, they'll not be available for use. Because of this, make sure you store those ISO image on a drive or partition where they can always remain.

I store all ISOs to be used by VirtualBox on their own drive. By doing this I don't have to worry about them taking precious system or data space. I can add to my collection as needed, and VirtualBox will always be content, knowing those images remain in place.

This method is much more efficient than adding ISO images on an as-needed basis. Load up the VirtualBox Media Manager with all the images your data center requires and those VMs can be created and deployed with an efficiency you've never experienced.

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Image: Jack Wallen