More than once I have been asked why I needed to build such a powerful PC when I put together the Beast from the East. The answer is pretty much focused entirely on my use, build and testing of more than 160 VM operating systems that range from the Venerable Windows 3.11 to the latest version of Ubuntu 11.10 (which is acutally run as the parent OS). How and why would anyone run so many virtual machines and play with so many Operating Systems…well it boils down to…I do it because I can.
Running different OS options has never been so easy as it is right now. Whether you are in IT or just Joe America (or any other country for that matter) it as simple as installing the FOSS Desktop Virtualization service from Oracle called Virtual Box. To quote directly from Oracle:
VirtualBox is a general-purpose full virtualizer for x86 hardware, targeted at server, desktop and embedded use.
Now this is a pretty simplifed explanation of the care and use of Desktop Virtualization but in a nutshell it does everything that the major players in the realm of Virtualization do but it does so absolutely FREE! (Don’t get me wrong I have used Citrix and VMware solutions and they are definitely feature rich – but Free is always good).
One of my favorite “How To Sites” is makeuseof.com and I recently got pointed towards a full 61 page guide to VirtualBox. Go ahead and grab your PDF today…regardless of your level of technology comfort…the screen shot step by step guides make building and maintaining a Virtual Machine easy.
Other titles available for free from makeuseof.com include:
- Old Computer, New Life: Bring Old PC To Life With Ubuntu
- 50 Cool Uses For Live CDs You Should Know About
- Microsoft Office 2010: Ultimate Tips & Tricks
- The Ultimate Guide To Gmail: Tips and Tricks
- The Essential Guide To Digital Photography
Now within the VirtualBox guide there are some key topics covered that I thought I would outline for you but it is important to note that this PDF takes very distinctive tutorial based view of the use of the software and once your new Virtual Machine is installed…well you revert to the how to use guides for that OS (yes this does make it possible to run Windows 7 withing Linux).
Introduction to VirtualBox
This breaks out What is VirtualBox, Why would you want it and how do you get it. The install directy from VirtualBox.org is ready to install on Linux, Windows, Mac and Solaris and if you are using Ubuntu it is available from the Ubuntu Store.
Creating a Windows XP Virtual Machine
Screen shot guide for Creating the VM and then installing XP within the Virutal Machine.
Creating a Windows 7 Virtual Machine
Screen shot guide for Creating the VM and then Installing Win 7 within the Virtual Machine
Creating an Ubuntu Virtual Machine
Screen shot guide for Creating a VM and then installing Ubuntu within the Virtual Machine. It is worthy to note that most Linux OS versions install very similar as a VM as Ubuntu does in this case.
Setting up Shared Folders
Yes it is possible to set up a Shared repository so that regardless of what VM you are currently playing with, you can get to your critical files.
Take advantage of the openness of VirtualBox and play with it, try to break it or leverage it as an option to use a new OS without the risk of wiping out anything your current system.
Chris J Powell