Vista vs Ubuntu: this time, it's virtual

Vista vs Ubuntu: this time, it's virtual

Summary: I've been meaning to try VirtualBox, the free x86 virtualisation product from InnoTek, and a comment to my previous Vista/Ubuntu post has pushed me into it.Of course, I can't just put a Windows OS on my Ubuntu machinery - don't have an unused Genuine Windows Advantage XP or Vista, and to reuse anything would be against the licence.

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TOPICS: Emerging Tech
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I've been meaning to try VirtualBox, the free x86 virtualisation product from InnoTek, and a comment to my previous Vista/Ubuntu post has pushed me into it.

Of course, I can't just put a Windows OS on my Ubuntu machinery - don't have an unused Genuine Windows Advantage XP or Vista, and to reuse anything would be against the licence. And I couldn't run the more inexpensive versions of Vista in a virtual environment at all, even if I'd paid full retail, because that's against the licence too.

So I decided to put Ubuntu on the Vista dual-core Centrino laptop.

And in the word of Microsoft's marketing department: wow. Very impressive.

Not perfect: I did have a problem with screen resolution -- the install only worked initially in a 640x480 window -- but that was fixed by adding the helper apps from InnoTek and running them as root, which took about a minute once I'd twigged.

Also, the networking needed to be explicitly enabled: another click. And I found it frustrating that you can't apparently change virtual machine settings, such as unmounting an ISO image from the virtual CD drive, on the fly, but that could be unreasonable of me.

But I did, in the space of about an hour, install and correctly configure a world-class modern operating system on top of a apparently reliable, efficient and very professional virtualisation layer, using only open source software.

(Charles Mclellan has just done something very similar, only with Gutsy and VMWare on top of XP on his World's Biggest Desktop Machine. That worked without a spot of hassle)

Haven't had time to do any performance testing, but subjectively, Ubuntu running FireFox and OpenOffice.org in a VirtualBox machine under Vista appears more responsive than IE and Windows Office running natively under Vista. I'll try and think up some way of benchmarking that - would be very interesting, and I can't exclude the possibility that I'm expecting them to work better so that's what I see.

But If you've got a gig or more of memory, a chunk of spare disk space and a broadband connection, you really should check this out.

Might even put a Dialogue Box together around it. Charles?

Topic: Emerging Tech

Rupert Goodwins

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Rupert started off as a nerdy lad expecting to be an electronics engineer, but having tried it for a while discovered that journalism was more fun. He ended up on PC Magazine in the early '90s, before that evolved into ZDNet UK - and Rupert evolved with them into an online journalist.

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4 comments
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  • Vista vs Ubuntu: this time, it's virtual

    Actually my Gutsy Gibbon is strutting its stuff (very effectively) on a VMWare VM on top of Vista rather than XP. I have another XP machine running as a GoToMyPC session in another window. Got to fill up that 30in. screen somehow you know.
    Charles McLellan
  • Vista vs Ubuntu: this time, it's virtual

    Yes, children. Uncle Charles has a huge one. And he keeps flashing it around in the office, to the annoyance of all.

    The things we have to put up with...

    rupert.goodwins9
  • Vista vs Ubuntu: this time, it's virtual

    Not only is this a great article, but I love the comments :-)

    I love virtualisation and I love Ubuntu, so feel free to do loads of articles on them,
    rimbaud-0c335
  • Vista vs Ubuntu: this time, it's virtual

    Downloaded VirtualBox, and installed it on XP Pro. Fired it up & installed Ubuntu 7.10. Not a single hiccup in the whole process. I do have 3 gig of RAM, but everything runs sweetly on an otherwise mundane Dell Optiplex GX620. Time for some fun with Ubuntu I think.
    BitSmith-8d3ee