I’ve just managed a setup, which if I didn’t see or do it for myself, I wouldn’t believe it: I’m running Windows XP inside Ubuntu like another program.
If you’ve spent any amount of time on this blog, you will by now realise my non-too-subtle affinity for Ubuntu. Yet, I still need Windows for some unported software, so I’ve been unable to totally boot Bill’s bloat.
I’ve very cleverly (I thought) set up a dual boot so that my default OS is Ubuntu (currently 8.10 Intrepid Ibex) and with the tap of the ESC key Windows XP is a secondary option in my Grub boot loader. This is however still a pain in the donkey, because when I need to do some minor tasks in my Windows-only software I have to shut down, reboot, do what I need to do, shut down and reboot again. This could happen several times a day as the tasks trickle in.
So it was then that I had my dinner in front of YouTube this evening, watching the new and interesting stuff featured on the front page. There was this Mac vs. PC clip that set me off on the PC path (I’m always keen to witness the new skirmishes on this war-torn front).
And, as you do, I clicked through on the related stuff until I got to this clip, “How to run Windows XP on Linux Ubuntu with Virtualbox“. Now I’ve dabbled with Wine aplenty, but have had nothing but hangovers, as often I can get the programs to run, but then invariably some or other important function is rendered impotent. So this claim to run Windows on Ubuntu intrigued me no end.
Sun XVM VirtualBox
As the clip above illustrates, those great guys and gals at Sun have perfected (I hope and pray) this free, open source software, which doesn’t run one or two Windows applications in Ubuntu, nay, it actually runs the entire Windows operating system in Ubuntu.
And it does so smoothly in a few very easy steps.
I downloaded Sun’s VirtualBox from their website and installed the software in Ubuntu. Then I installed the VirtualBox software in Ubuntu and after a few questions it had readied a virtual harddrive for my Windows installation.
Once you launch this virtual environment, you work inside a normal Ubuntu program window. In this instance though, the program window represents a virtual computer screen as if you’re working on another computer, or box (slang), within Ubuntu.
You then push a virtual power button on your virtual box, and it starts up much like a real computer. If you’ve assigned your CD drive, it boots from there and in my case from my Windows XP installation CD. On your virtual screen, which represents your virtual computer, Windows XP then installs itself like it will on any computer.
Windows running on Ubuntu
And moments later, you have a fully working install of Windows XP, running in an Ubuntu window, which you can even minimise to your Ubuntu taskbar if you want. Some clever connectivity lets you access your Ubuntu shared folders from within Windows via a virtual network, so you have a fully integrated environment.
For me, this is sheer bliss, because now I don’t have to reboot my machine – ever.
Taking it a step further, I connected my old, cracked Acer LCD and used Ubuntu 8.10’s slick Dual Screen Setup (no headaches like up until as recently as 8.04), so the laptop is entirly Ubuntu, and the LCD is, for all pratical pruposes, Windows XP.
This allows me to do my normal stuff on my laptop unhindered, and then when I need to reach over into Windows XP for some graphic or web tweaking, I simply move my mouse cursor to the right and viola!, I’m in Windows XP.
Unbelievable. A computer geek’s wet dream.
I love Ubuntu.
Ps. I noticed in quite a few videos people mispronouncing the word Ubuntu. It’s pronounced “ooo-boon-too”. It’s a Zulu language word (from the Zulus, an indigenous people in South Africa) and, in a very broad sense, means humanity towards others.