Windows Virtual PC is an optional add-on to Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate that lets you run operating systems within Windows, including Windows XP Mode. You can also use it to install Ubuntu Linux and other operating systems. This excerpt from Windows 7: Up and Running shows you how to run Linux under Windows 7's Windows Virtual PC.
When you install Windows Virtual PC and the XPM package, you get the Windows XP virtual machine free of charge so that you can run your legacy Windows XP applications. However, besides running the free Windows XP virtual machine, you can also install other operating systems on Windows Virtual PC. This section will show you how to install another operating system on Windows Virtual PC. For illustration purposes, I will install the Ubuntu Linux OS.
First, launch the Virtual Machines window by going to Start>All Programs>Windows Virtual PC>Virtual Machines. The Virtual Machines window will be shown. This window will display all the virtual machines that you have installed on your computer.
To create a new virtual machine, click the menu item "Create virtual machine." You will be asked to name the new virtual machine as well as specify a location to store the new virtual machine file. Click Next.
In the next screen, you need to specify how much memory to allocate to this virtual machine. You will also indicate whether you want the virtual machine to make use of the current computer's network connection for network access. Click Next to continue.
Finally, you will be asked to create or use an existing hard disk image file for the new OS. If you are creating a new image, select the first option and click Create.
Once the virtual machine is created, you will see it shown in the Virtual Machines window.
To start the new virtual machine, double-click it. The virtual machine will attempt to perform a network boot, and will eventually fail. As you have not installed the OS yet, press the Esc key now and you will see a message asking you to reboot or insert the boot media in the selected boot device.
To install an OS on the virtual machine, you will need the installation disc for the OS you are going to install and you must let Windows Virtual PC know how to locate the installation disc. To do so, select Tools>Settings and choose DVD Drive from the list of settings.
If your OS comes on a physical disc, insert the disc (CD or DVD) into your CD/DVD drive now and select the "Access a physical drive option" (Figure 7-11). Choose the drive letter that corresponds to your disc drive. If your OS is saved as an ISO file, choose the "Open an ISO image" option and specify the path containing the ISO file. Click OK to continue.
Click the menu labeled Ctrl-Alt-Del in the virtual machine window. The virtual machine will now attempt to boot up. If the bootup is successful, you should see a bootup screen like Figure 7-12. You will now proceed with the usual steps to install the OS.