Wednesday, January 2, 2008

My operating system plan

My current PC is a dual-boot system. Despite what Linux cheerleaders tell you, you still need Windows sometimes. Some websites, like NetFlix's streaming movie page, won't work without it.

But I hope to have a single-boot system nonetheless.

My plan is to always boot to Linux, then run Windows (when needed) in a virtual machine. provides the software for this, and it's free. You need to have a system capable of running two operating systems at once, which is why I haven't tried it yet (well, I tried and failed, with my current 256MB RAM).

Here are some of the advantages that I anticipate (which may not be realistic, since I have no experience with virtual machines)...

  • No need to have separate drives, or separate partitions.
  • No need to reboot to change operating systems.
  • In fact, you don't "change" OS's at all. You run both at once
  • If I understand correctly, I can do a clean install of Windows, then make as many copies of it as I want. Windows can get as cluttered or corrupted as it wants, and all I have to do is have a second copy I can use. I can keep a backup of a clean install, another of an install with lots of software, and others for other purposes. I can ditch one install and try a different one, all without re-booting. Maybe I'm being too optimistic.
Unfortunately, Virtualbox does not support 64 bit operating systems. That's a shame, since the new PC does, and I'll have to run a 32 bit version of Linux, and miss out on some of my processor's potential.

Since I plan to use the PC as a media center, I'll install MythTV, which should do everything I need -- media wise. There's a flavor of Linux made especially for MythTV, but I'm not planning to use it, as this machine will be a general-purpose PC, as well as a media PC. I really like the standard Ubuntu releases, and plan to stick with them.

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