Install WordPress on a Ubuntu Virtual Machine using VirtualBox

I decided to start a fun new project by setting up a development environment for WordPress. My primary goals are to have something I can use on my desktop or laptop without worrying about cluttering up the operating system (OS)on my PCs or scattering project files all across my home network. My buddy Justin over at Chop Shop pointed me toward VirtualBox a while back, so I decided to dive in and give it a try. VirtualBox is a free, open-source virtualization application that allows you to set up virtual machines (VMs) quickly and easily. Virtual machines offer many benefits:

  • They are “sandboxed” and won’t interfere with your OS installation
  • They can be saved in a particular state, exported, and transferred to another VM host (so if I’m going on vacation I can copy my VMs from my desktop to my laptop)
  • The same base VM installation (with the OS, Apache, MySQL, and PHP installed) can be saved and duplicated for multiple development environments (WordPress, Drupal, etc.)
  • Modern hardware is designed to support virtualization technologies so performance is generally excellent

Typically, the primary (non-virtualized) OS on the computer is called the “host” operating system, and the virtual OS is called the “guest” operating system. I’ll be using those terms throughout this tutorial.

I don’t have any spare Windows licenses lying around, so I’m turning to Linux for my guest OS. I’ve had some experience with Ubuntu in the past, and I think the x86 version will work just fine for WordPress. I’ll also be using XAMPP for Linux (formerly LAMPP) as my application platform to host WordPress on.

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