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I am wondering if I install ubuntu once on a virtual machine running inside virtualbox, could I then use it as a portable OS and launch it from virtualbox on any machine? Or would I have to match the hardware of the original host?

I am just wondering if it would be smarter to do this or get a live CD and just create snapshots as I add more stuff into it.

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    note: unlike Windows or Mac OS X, Ubuntu, or any other GNU/Linux distribution, can be installed on a removable USB drive. That will yield much, much better performance, and be less of a hassle. also, please accept an answer to this question!
    – strugee
    Nov 17 '13 at 5:23
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Yes you can do that. All you need to is create a virtual machine, install all the components you need and export it as an appliance. That appliance can then be imported by others in their machine. But, make sure you do not make any advance configuration changes like virtual disk type, as they might cause conflicts and the other user might need to again convert it for their need.

If you are a developer, I'd suggest you look into vagrant. It has all that you need and your collaboration even gets easier.

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When you using it on another machine, you must include the virtual disk, snapshot file ... I recommend you use a VirtualBox portable, it includes all of you need and can moving anywhere. If you installed VMS as normaly, you need copy all neccesary files and folder

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Yes you can run vbox image on any machine. A lot of people work like that now.

VBox build virtual hardware devices depending on your distribution choise.

By the way I suggest to NOT use vbox portable and when you bring it to inother machine include virtual disc only. It's really not hard to attach it and as bonus you can set up different resource usage on different machines for the same virtual disc.

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