Trying out Linux
I like Linux, but it has one inherent problem.
If you want to install Linux on a PC that already has Windows installed, there are two opions – you either have to install Virtual Machine software, or you have to partition the hard disk.
I have a natural fear od repartitioning a live hard disk. If it goes wrong at all with even the smallest error, you can end up losing your entire operating system and you end up with a dud machine.
Installing a Virtual Machine is a safe alternative and is very simple to install. However, the drawback to VMs is that unless you have a massive memory installed, they tend to be fairly slow. Also there can be difficulties in tying the VM to the master operating system, so your Linux install may not be able to access the Windows partitions.
I recently came across a new system of running Linux on a Windows machine, and it works extremely well.
A friend recommended Linux Mint so I went to their site and downloaded the latest ISO. I burned it to a DVD and inserted it in the drive. I was given three options. I could run Mint directly off the DVD, which isn’t much use as I wouldn’t be able to write any files, including settings. I could allow the DVD to repartition the hard drive and do a full install.
The third option intrigued me though. It offered the option of installing Linux as a virtual program within Windows. I chose this option and the only real decision I had to make was how much space to allocate. I chose 20Gb.
The installation was completely painless,
I ended up with a fully functional operational installation of Mint. It is a dual boot system, and by booting into Mint, the OS has full access to all the PC’s hardware, and the only drawback is a very slight degredation in speed, as all disk reads and writes have to be translated into NTFS.
For anyone interested in trying out Linux without compromising their current setup, I couldn’t recommend Mint highly enough.
most distros will give the first two options, but I was not aware that any offered the third.
of course, I think it’s strange that anyone would want to have Linux running as a VM inside Windows… I have a few VMs running Windows and Mac inside Linux, but purely for website testing, but running Linux inside Windows seems a bit weird.
The way I would do this is to first get a copy of Partition Magic, and make some space on the hard drive, then use that space to install Linux.
I’m commenting on a laptop which is partitioned with Windows XP and Fedora 13. The Fedora OS has some VMs on it – Windows 7, Windows XP, and Mac OSX (a tricky one).
For those already familiar with Ubuntu, “Wubi” does essentially the same thing, although I’m not sure if it’s an option from the live CD. Must check that.
It’s available as a .exe you can run from within Windows at http://wubi-installer.org/
Kae – My problem is that the machine was sold with a Restore partition and no disks. As a result, I can re-install Windows any time as the base system, but couldn’t install it in a VM. I am stuck with that configuration.
Welcome Andrew. I had a quick look at that link, and it appears to do exactly the same thing. It effectively creates a VM on the base system, but is different from a normal VM in that when you boot into it, it runs as a native system with access to full memory and all the hardware. Nice!