VirtualBox is available in the Linux and Mac environments. The application interface is identical on all platforms, with the usual exception of the Mac OS version's menu bar being on top of the screen instead of inside the window. Some Computer Science classes require working with VMs, which will be made available by the instructor.
Add a virtual machine
By default, VirtualBox opens with an empty virtual machine list as a sidebar. Once a virtual machine is acquired, it will need to be added to the list before it can be used.
The virtual machine you are provided will come as a directory compressed into a tar.gz file. By default, VirtualBox keeps VMs in ~/VirtualBox VMs. If this directory does not exist, you can create it and extract the archive there. After doing so, start VirtualBox from the GNOME activities screen or the Mac OS X /Applications folder and open the "Add..." dialog as shown in the image to the left.
In the dialog box that appears, browse to the .vbox file in the virtual machine directory and open it. This will add the virtual machine to the list in the VirtualBox Manager window.