One of the more handy programs (which is still free of charge) for trying out different Linux distributions is Oracle's VirtualBox. There is a small learning curve to get acquainted with virtualiztion, but still a good program.
One of the first issues that needs to be addressed is the default 640x480 screen resolution after installing a VM. Turning to Google, there are lots of posts about how to fix this, most of them outdated and addressing older versions of VirtualBox. For the remainder of this post, I'll be talking about VirtualBox version 4.3.26.
As mentioned, this seems to have been an issue for awhile with previous versions and required fairly complicated fixes. But for the current version, the method described in the VirtualBox documentation, Guest Additions, worked fine. I'll comment on a couple of things that might not be obvious at first.
- The Guest Additions needs to be installed on the virtual "Guest" machine (not the host machine you're running VirtualBox on).
- According to the documentation, you need to mount the Guest Additions .ISO image. Running VirtualBox on Ubuntu 14.04, these instructions might be misunderstood. With the Guest VM running in a window, you need to place the mouse on the top menu bar of your host machine, where it says something like "Oracle VM VirtualBox" - there you will see the menu bar appear and look for the "Devices" drop down. The trick is that Ubuntu "hides" the menu options until you mouse over the bar. Under "Devices" select "Insert Guest Additions CD image" and allow the CD to auto-start. The installation script will prompt you through the rest of the installation.
- After you shut down the Guest VM and restart, the screen resolution will match the size of the VM window as you resize it. Success!
- On the Guest VM settings, give the video more memory, around 128 MB, to handle the higher resoultions. Leaving that setting at the default 12 MB will limit your resolution choices.