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Old 10-28-2008, 09:44 AM   #1
bushman130
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Boot Windows once Linux is running - not VM


I'm trying to set up an "ideal" combination of Windows and Linux for a single PC.
I hope somebody can point me in the right direction or tell me I'm insane and asking for the impossible.
The main family PC runs Windows which is fine for pretty much all its purposes.

Everyone in the house uses it to play music, browse the internet, check e-mail, etc. and play Windows (DirextX) games.
The problem is boot time vs. power usage.
Nobody wants to wait for it to boot, log a user on, settle down and be ready to use.
I don't want to leave the machine on 24/7 for obvious reasons.

I'd like the machine to boot a small, fast linux distro by default on every boot. This would have web browser, e-mail etc. The aim being basic functionality as quickly as possible. Like Slashtop.
So far so good.
Then within this environment, I would like to include some kind of launcher that can then run the Windows installation that also exists on the hard drive.

I don't want a virtual machine as this (I believe) will rule out Windows games and access to the real hardware.
Perhaps the launcher could end Linux, after changing a GRUB entry or something, or is there another way?

I'd prefer not to dual-boot (ie. choice at boot time) as the user would feel like they're shutting down one OS to bring up another, wasting time.
In practice, everyone would just boot Windows and leave it running.
I'd like Windows to be the exeption when a user really needs something that's Windows only, but at the same time, aspiring confidence in the lightweight Linux OS.

When they've quickly checked their e-mail they'd be happier to power down the machine as it will boot very quickly again next time.

Can anybody give me any tips at all?
Thanks in advance.

Paul
 
Old 10-28-2008, 11:43 AM   #2
jf.argentino
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As far as I know, the only way to do something like that is to replace the BIOS with a lightweight OS (based on linux or not) who can browse the web and any others "basic" applications you want. Take a look to "coreboot" for example, but I think that, for now, it's more a geek stuff than an "easy to use" solution...

By the way, booting a standard linux system (read a full linux installed on your hard drive) is as long as booting a windows one (and maybe longer), but you can decrease booting time, you'll find plenty of tutorials on the web for this purpose, but I'm not sure it will be sufficient for your needs, just test it...

For the games problem, I know that many people want to play windows games on their linux box, so there's take a look to wine, it's not a true PC emulator, and by googling "wine DirectX", I'm sure you'll find good tutorials, with list of games which work well under linux...

Hope this help a few...
 
Old 10-28-2008, 11:50 AM   #3
TB0ne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jf.argentino View Post
As far as I know, the only way to do something like that is to replace the BIOS with a lightweight OS (based on linux or not) who can browse the web and any others "basic" applications you want. Take a look to "coreboot" for example, but I think that, for now, it's more a geek stuff than an "easy to use" solution...

By the way, booting a standard linux system (read a full linux installed on your hard drive) is as long as booting a windows one (and maybe longer), but you can decrease booting time, you'll find plenty of tutorials on the web for this purpose, but I'm not sure it will be sufficient for your needs, just test it...

For the games problem, I know that many people want to play windows games on their linux box, so there's take a look to wine, it's not a true PC emulator, and by googling "wine DirectX", I'm sure you'll find good tutorials, with list of games which work well under linux...

Hope this help a few...
And check out Cedega Point-n-Play, specifically written to allow Windows games to work under Linux. Half Life, FEAR, Team Fortress are among some that work fine. There's a huge list of certified games.

As the previous poster said, unless you replace your BIOS with a 'light' OS, the only way you can run two OS's at once, is to virtualize one of them. Windows under VM works fine, but I can't see any reason to not load a 'real' version of Linux (Mandriva, Ubuntu, OpenSuSE), and use it for everything.
 
Old 10-28-2008, 12:35 PM   #4
bushman130
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Thanks for the responses.
I've been looking at Coreboot for a while and I think that is, in theory, the way to go. What puts me off for now though: Motherboards are proprietary and somebody else's close-match code just isn't IMHO going to work well. Also my board (ASUS M2N SLI Deluxe) doesn't appear very well supported. Rather wait until I buy another board and get the functionality from the manufacturer.
That leaves me with something like a compressed linux disk image as an option.
I'm happy trimming down the OS to make it fast. I use Zenwalk on my laptop and Ubuntu on my VM's. All working nicely.
I know I can get Linux booted and ready in an acceptable time.
I guess its just the concept of double-clicking a 'Windows' icon in KDE and the 'full' computer is revealed.
I'm thinking I could achieve this with a script that changed GRUB's autoboot entry to Windows, then unloads Linux and restarts the PC. When Windows boots, it would change this back to Linux.
To be a bit clearer:
Windows takes 2-3 minutes to be ready. I know I could get this down but I don't want to spend my life questioning every action on the PC and constantly trimming and tweaking.
I'd like to get basic functionality in 20-30 seconds.
I mentioned games. I should have said my wife plays Sims2. That's the extent of it. She can happily wait 5 minutes to play that as she will have already committed to playing it for a few hours.
I've played with Wine in the past with success but I'd rather just run a Windows game in Windows.
Also, we've all been here- Perception: If Sims2 running on Windows crashes after hours of play without saving then it's EA's fault and frustrating. If it crashes when running on Linux which I've just installed, then its my fault.
I guess the reason for not running a full Linux on this system is that it would be expected to do everything, get bloated and I'd be right back where I started.
I don't necessarily want both OS's running at the same time, just a fast, light one as default boot option. Then a full bloated one if you really need Windows.
 
Old 10-28-2008, 12:56 PM   #5
i92guboj
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Weird stuff. Maybe you didn't think enough about it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bushman130 View Post
I'd like the machine to boot a small, fast linux distro by default on every boot. This would have web browser, e-mail etc. The aim being basic functionality as quickly as possible. Like Slashtop.
So far so good.
Then within this environment, I would like to include some kind of launcher that can then run the Windows installation that also exists on the hard drive.
Well. Let's analyze this.

Let's call the boot time for the linux distro X. Let's call the the boot time for Windows Y.

On a tipical dual boot scheme, Windows will take Y seconds to boot, and Linux will take X seconds to boot.

With your scheme, Linux will still take X seconds to boot. Windows will take X + Y + Z, being Z the additional time that you need to shut down all the linux services and some other things.

All in all, what you want to do has no advantage. Indeed, it poses a big disadvantage (besides making the things even more difficult).

The problem is that there's no magical way to just click on a icon and open windows in one second from your linux desktop (other than using a vm, and even then it's not that quick).

So, I really fail to see a purpose on this. If you really want to make things simple for people not using linux, just use grub to set the timeout to 1 second, and default to windows, and be done with it.



Quote:
Perhaps the launcher could end Linux, after changing a GRUB entry or something, or is there another way?

I'd prefer not to dual-boot (ie. choice at boot time) as the user would feel like they're shutting down one OS to bring up another, wasting time.
Technically, this is still dual booting (you have two OS'es, and a bootloader to select which one to boot, uh?), which is what you did not want to do...

Quote:
In practice, everyone would just boot Windows and leave it running.
I'd like Windows to be the exeption when a user really needs something that's Windows only, but at the same time, aspiring confidence in the lightweight Linux OS.
Then default to linux, and instruct your users to use windows only when necessary. They will use whatever they prefer regardless of your efforts. To boot windows from linux, even if you manage to do as you want via some black magic, you still need to reboot the machine. There's no easy way to just unload a linux kernel and boot the windows one right after without rebooting your box.

I don't think that coreboot will help you at all with this. Coreboot is just intended to substitute the firmware to boot right straight into linux, there are many problems with this.

Linux doesn't neet your bios for anything, it indeed ignores the silly limitations of the bios chips. Windows, on the contrary, might rely on some bios stuff to do and handle many things. I know that there's on ongoing project for a windows version of coreboot. In any case, neither the linux nor the windows version will allow you to run two OSes simultaneously if that's what the other poster above was suggesting.
 
Old 10-28-2008, 03:01 PM   #6
Duck2006
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You may be able to do it with puppy linux.

http://www.puppylinux.com/emulator-puppy.htm
 
Old 10-28-2008, 03:28 PM   #7
roy_lt_69
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Buy a 2nd computer so that you have Linux on one and Windows on the other!
The Linux one can be a cheap/old/used computer!
Linux can be installed on old computers that Windows would choke on.
 
Old 10-28-2008, 03:31 PM   #8
Duck2006
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http://yatsite.blogspot.com/2008/09/...s-without.html
 
Old 10-28-2008, 04:08 PM   #9
i92guboj
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck2006 View Post
You may be able to do it with puppy linux.

http://www.puppylinux.com/emulator-puppy.htm
Using a virtual machine like bochs, vmware of qemu, any distro can, however that's not what the OP wanted.

You reminded me of one thing, though. The OP said on the first post this:

Quote:
I don't want a virtual machine as this (I believe) will rule out Windows games and access to the real hardware.
Well. That's true for the most part. Once into the VM your OS can only see the virtual hardware supplied by the VM. However, I remember seeing in the past something about experimental 3d acceleration support on vmware. You might want to look into that, just in case... I can't give any concrete info, and I don0t know if that's come a long way nor its current state.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck2006 View Post
That coLinux stuff is indeed impresive. Still, it's not like running two oses cooperative (even if coLinux stands for cooperative linux). The windows kernel is itself who manages the resources of the system, the coLinux kernel is just "another windows program", even if it's running in a privileged mode. Just like wine is a linux program which would be the equivalent -roughly- to coLinux + Xming. Anyway, if I understand it well, he wants linux to be the preferred system, and not the other way around.



However, it's good to have options just in case

Last edited by i92guboj; 10-28-2008 at 04:12 PM.
 
Old 10-28-2008, 05:09 PM   #10
pingu
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I think I understand you, bushman130
You're not really talking about techniques you're talking about what it looks like for ordinary user.
There is a thing you could look into:
Grub is configured in /boot/grub/grub.conf or sometimes menu.lst
You can create a file /boot/grub/grub.once which is read at next boot and then is deleted after being used.
At least this worked for me a year ago, I created 2 files: menu.lin and menu.win
Then a small script to copy one of them to menu.once
So when I wanted to boot Windows I ran the script /usr/local/sbin/bootwin which copied menu.win to menu.once and rebooted computer.
Maybe check it out, but remember you normally have to be root to do this.
 
Old 10-28-2008, 05:19 PM   #11
i92guboj
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pingu View Post
I think I understand you, bushman130
You're not really talking about techniques you're talking about what it looks like for ordinary user.
Yep. But to the ordinary user it will look like they need to boot the pc two times, even if it's automatic, I highly doubt that they are going to like the trip.

Last edited by i92guboj; 10-28-2008 at 05:21 PM.
 
Old 10-30-2008, 07:40 AM   #12
bushman130
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Thanks everyone for your comments.
Pingu's method seems about as elegant as I can easily achieve.
I know it's dual booting and I agree with i92guboj that its going to be a bit of a pain for the user but I guess it'll discourage Windows addiction in the process.
I've just got to make it start and stop quickly to gain buy-in.
At least I have it fairly confirmed that there's no magic way of booting 'real' Windows once linux is up.
Thanks roy_lt_69 for the moment of clarity. I know I'll learn more rolling my own solution to the problem but just grabbing a spare PC does seem like an easy fix while I've got a few lying around.
Anyway, back to real work.

Paul
 
Old 10-30-2008, 08:25 AM   #13
pixellany
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I have an ideal setup: Linux is on the computer, and Windows is somewhere in my pile of CDs. For a while, Windows was also on the computer, but was rarely used. Now, I'm leaning towards setting up a VM, but have not done anything yet. If I don't need Windows in the next few months, it will probably go on e-bay**.

Seriously--I did not read every option discussed here, but I think the best two choices are:
VM (can go either way--ie you could have native Windows with Linux as the guest.)
Two CPUs (and maybe a KVM switch so you can have just one monitor, keyboard, etc.) If you're clever, the users won't even know that there are two computers in play.

**The last usage of Windows was to update the map database on my GPS. If I find a solution to that, I think someone will have an opportunity to buy Win2K.
 
Old 10-30-2008, 03:09 PM   #14
john test
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Quick Question:
Why don't you just put the windows box in Sleep mode at night? Easily resolves the fast restart issue and holds the power consumption to a minimum.
 
  


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