If you aren’t already familiar with Oracle’s Virtualbox software, I’ll try to summarize quickly what it is, before explaining why it actually is going to be relevant for quite some time.
Normally people have a computer with one operating system like Windows or Linux. If they are like me they have several computers and have several operating systems on each because “why not.”
Often having multiple operating systems together on a computer is done through multibooting, where you select a different operating system as the computer boots up.
In some instances, you only need a handful of features from any given operating system, and it doesn’t matter enough to keep that system on your machine. So you could install a virtualbox just to use those features, and then either keep or discard the virtual machines after you use them if disk space became an issue.
Often a virtual machine has built in limitations that make it an unworthy substitute to multibooting. An example being gaming on a virtual box Windows XP inside of a Linux host. It might be possible but it’s never necessarily better than using Windows in multiboot configurations.
There are exceptions to this however, and the most significant among them are the instances where your computer doesn’t work with a specific operating system at all. For example; Ubuntu, and Linux Mint 17.3, are using software that actually prevents them from working in some older (Nvidia) hardware configurations.
In much the same way Windows 10 doesn’t work on some hardware (because those companies aren’t doing anything to work with these software companies) and some have suggested it even refuses to install on some computers.
Virtualbox is a solution for at least some of these instances as the software only allows the virtual machine to use the hosts drivers, and this is a working solution for at least the majority of the functionality.
So let’s imagine you tried to install Windows 10 but the drivers allegedly wouldn’t work, and in your rage tried to install Linux Mint 17.3 but also couldn’t because of an Nvidia driver borking your desktop into fallback mode etc.
You might still have Windows 7, or Linux Mint 17.2 which “strangely worked fine” on the exact same hardware. You wouldn’t have any immediate need to install both of the operating systems that just failed on that hardware, but in virtual machines you can actually install both and they work within the specs that you could assign them.
Windows 10 can work with only 1Gb Ram, as can Linux Mint 17.3. (Probably not Ubuntu but with 2Gb it might.) In essence if you can stand working within a fraction of your available ram and hard drive space you could actually install both and in some instances run both alongside each other simultaneously from within the host environment.
This might drive you to a kind of tech madness as the reasons that prevented them from working on the exact same hardware are still present…
This is a nice solution, if for no other reason than to have a workaround, because while it isn’t very practical on a regular basis it is at least still very possible to use the operating system you wanted to, and that is why Virtualbox will remain useful for ages to come.