In my last post, i introduced some of us to the world of Linux, the advantages it offers and the status it confers.

Understandably, it is still a Microsoft world, so i wouldn’t expect you to just clean out your Windows operating system and install Linux. If you do that, trust me, you will definitely have issues, truck loads.

I can think of two paths to follow if you’ll like to have a feel of Linux; DUAL/MULTIPLE BOOTING or VIRTUALIZATION.

DUAL/MULTIPLE BOOTING requires creating partitions on your laptops, the Linux OS would be installed in these partitions. This can be very tricky and the outcome may be very unpredictable and may require some knowledge of rocket science, if you know what i mean. Some of the stress could be reduced with the use of partition boot softwares like Partition Boot Manager .The software is not free, and still requires some level of skills and i am not sure the product is still being supported.

The concept of VIRTUALIZATION is the bane of this write-up and a preferred alternative especially in this scenario of “Water Testing”. Virtualization is enjoying increasing popularity and has varied application but we will restrict ourselves to our immediate purpose.

Operating system virtualization is the use of a software to allow a piece of hardware (Your laptop) to run multiple operating systems at the same time within an existing OS (Windows).With Virtualization, we can run our Linux OS independently and conveniently from within Windows 7/Vista or XP. The hardware is usually referred to as the HOST OS/PC while the virtual OS is referred to as the GUEST OS/PC.

There are a number of softwares out there, but we will be using a free one from ORACLE called VIRTUALBOX.

To run the software on your laptop, VIRTUALBOX recommends “Reasonably powerful x86 hardware. Any recent Intel or AMD processor should do” and 1 GB of RAM.For a smooth experience, i would recommend a laptop with at least 2GB of RAM and preferrably 2Ghz dual core processor speed or more. Note that the Guest OSes require the same RAM requirements like it would need if you were installing on the laptop itself.

I use an Asus UL30A-X5 laptop, it comes with 4GB RAM and i do conveniently run more than 4 Guest OSes, as shown below;

With the 4 Guest PCs up, the CPU usage on my laptop could go as low as 12% (See higlighted portion of the above picture, top-right). However, this could easily pass the 50% mark when in active usage. Just ensure your PC processors are running at full throttle, the power saving option of most laptops reduces the processor speed to conserve battery life.

Laptops with larger screens may enjoy the experience better.

With virtualization, you can actually test any OS or multiple OSes, softwares you are sceptical about, simulate a networking environment, whether peer-to-peer or client-server arrangement. The possibilities are endless.

This write-up is lengthy and would be broken into multiple parts. The first part ends here. In the second part, i will take you on a step-by-step, pictoral procedure on how to install the virtual software and Ubuntu on your system.


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