Using Linux within Windows to surf the web to avoid spyware
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If you're confident enough to connect your Windows box to the internet in the first place, you're probably good to surf on it too. I do recommend having a firewall between you and the rest of the net, and of course some sort of anti-malware software. I don't see why running a virtualized Linux system would harm you, but it does eat up resources and may thus be a little inconvenient, but if you're ok with that, why not
I'd just skip the virtualization part and use the real thing.
what you want to do has some valid concerns to it and is something reasonable that one would think.To answer your question yes you can have a virtual machine to surf the web for safety but this is a whole discussion.
Simply going with this scenario won't give you safety or security .It is what you actually do , how you actually use the net ...For example most infections come from software we download and want to try in our systems so if you download via the virtualized linux machine and install them on your Windows box ....there is no point !
You have to consider these factors as well and think of security in both systems if you finally decide to go with your plan.
There are other options though that you could do also .For example tighten security over the windows machine , log in as a user and not administrator , tighten operating system security (registry keys etc) , tighten web browser security etc etc.
There a whole world of options you need to think of !
Using virtualization may be an option and may provide you better security than windows but getting a dual boot system would be much better. Get some live distribution like Ubuntu, Mint etc. and try them and use you feel better off. Ubuntu and Mint should be better if you have never used Linux. Both have good looks and work fine. And you can probably do most of things avoiding CLI if you are not comfortable.
I would like to use Linux in a VMWare Player window within Windows 7 to circumvent spyware infections. Is this a feasable idea or should I just dual boot?
Yes, it's perfectly feasible. The virtualisation method would be more convenient and would reduce the temptation to browse the Infernet (assuming that's what you have in mind) "just this quick once" (ha!) from Windows. But what about email? You would probably want to be able to attach/save files from/to Windows if Windows is your main working environment.
Thanks for all the replies, guys. I actually did install Mint on a separate partition, but found that it was really annoying to have to reboot to use the features I wanted to use in Windows, such as Voice Recognition. My ideal situation would be triple booting Windows 7, Windows XP, and Linux, but setting up a triple boot scenario looks like a big pain in the arse lol. I might need to run XP for certain outdated software using dual monitors--something Virtual machines don't support. This is actually a work computer and I intend to use it for one specific piece of hardware only occassionally, so I want to keep Windows completely free of garbage. I want to keep it running as fast as the day I got it.
I don't intend to download or install software from the web for Windows, but I was more concerned about acquiring Spyware via holes in Firefox. I was under the impression that Spyware can sometimes infect a machine simply by having the user inadvertently executing exploits while browsing an infected page. I do use Firefox, but I imagine there are holes in Firefox on a PC that would make the user vulnerable to this. In regards to open ports on a Windows machine, I was intending to use Microsoft's Firewall...perhaps I should do more than that. Maybe I should just reboot to Mint
A new system would run almost or as fast as a dual boot. I never dual boot anymore.
I am not sure anyone has proved a VM linux could make the host vulnerable (with the exception of shared folders). I consider it secure enough.
The main issue with security is that nothing on the internet should be considered secure.
If you boot to a live cd or a live usb without persistence you can be sure it can't be hacked. Just don't mount any drives while you are online. You could make a great 1G mint without persistence and never have to worry.
"...The latest example is found on the fake Firefox download site below. The page is cleverly disguised with the appearance of a legitimate Firefox download site and could easily fool many users hoping to upgrade...