Much of the material in this document is taken from Appendix H.1 in the book A Primer on Scientific Programming with Python, 4th edition, by the same author, published by Springer, 2014.
VirtualBox is free software that allows you to run a virtual machine
with, e.g., the Ubuntu operating system.
Download and install VirtualBox. Choose the version
according to the operating system on the host.
On Mac OS X, choose
VirtualBox x.y.z for OS X hosts, where
x.y.z is the version number
of VirtualBox. Double click the downloaded
.dmg file to install
Vagrant. Those who work on a Windows machine will select VirtualBox
x.y.z for Windows hosts, which downloads an
.exe file to be
double clicked to perform the installation.
The next step is to download a full-blown, pre-built Ubuntu machine
with a lot of tools for doing scientific computing.
Go to http://goo.gl/nSeBCg and download
ubuntu-14.04-amd64.ova (6.4 Gb!). We refer to the
for how to import such a machine. The username and password for
the virtual machine are fenics.
Instead of running Ubuntu in a virtual machine, Windows users also have the option of deciding on the operating system when turning on the machine (so-called dual boot). The Wubi tool makes it very easy to get Ubuntu on a Windows machine this way. There are problems with Wubi on Windows 8, see instructions for how to get around them. It is also relatively straightforward to perform a direct install of Ubuntu by downloading an Ubuntu image, creating a bootable USB stick on Windows or Mac, restarting the machine and finally installing Ubuntu. However, with the powerful computers we now have, a virtual machine is more flexible since you can switch between Windows and Ubuntu as easily as going from one window to another.