I just finished installing Windows XP Pro on my laptop. Nothing to write home about, except that I just restarted it after an update while I continue to write this blog (on the same computer). Yes, I've just discovered the cool factor of virtualization. I'm still running my trusty Kubuntu, but installed VMWare Server (it's free at VMWare.com), ran through the wizard, popped in my XP CD and, voila, Windows XP inside Linux. This is remarkably handy for those of us who still have to run Windows-only apps (say Autocad or Internet Explorer). Yes, I did just say Internet Explorer - we have a legacy intranet app that is IE-only. As much as I love Kubuntu, I do really miss Office 2007, too, so that will be installing shortly.
Anyway, 77 security updates are installing as we speak and performance is remarkable both in the virtual machine and on the host system (although my touchpad gets a little flaky whenever I come near the VMWare console). Service Pack 2 will also be installing in a while, I'm sure - I can hardly wait! However, I have to say that this is a great way to have your cake and eat it, too. This remains a Windows world, for better or worse - VMWare and the other solid virtualization tools that run natively in most newer Linux distros are a far better workaround than Wine. Now I just have to install the virtual machine on my Edubuntu server and see what happens to performance.
The point here for Ed Tech, of course, is that this is one more step towards easy coexistence between Windows and Linux/OSS. More importantly, users who wish to use Linux can do so with less hassle. This is easy, folks, even for our users who aren't as savvy as we might like. I know that I've only scratched the surface of what virtualization can offer in terms of testing, security, compatibility, and hardware utilization. I'll report back as I dig into this further with more direct applications in K-12 (and beyond).