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Distribution: Windows XP / Ubuntu 8.10 / Fedora 10
XP - Ubuntu dual boot with VirtualBox?
I've used Linux before (Ubuntu, and breifly Fedora). I used to have a dual boot setup between XP and Ubuntu. However, it got very annoying moving between Windows and Linux all the time just to use certain programs, struggling to make games work in WINE, and just juggling between them in general. It's also very annoying that half my files are on one partition, with one OS, and the rest are on another partition with another OS. So I just went back to windows.
Recently, I'm considering giving it another try. I'm also a programmer, and I like Linux for carrying out these types of tasks.
However, there are some problems I'd need to address. I've searched and googled these, let me know if I'm not looking carefully enough:
- I want to use VirtualBox to boot the EXISTING XP partition. This is a must. However, I've heard that running a real partition in a virtual machine can cause problems. For instance, I'm told that if something modifies the partition while VirtualBox is "suspended" (like me editing files) then VB will act as if it never happened and corrupt the partition. Also, how will Windows react to the switching between hardware (real hardware vs VB hardware)? I assume I can use Hardware Profiles for that?
- I know it's possible to install linux on fat32, but not recommended. Is there really a big problem? It'd make the linux partition accessible within windows, which would be REALLY nice.
- Finally, I'm told it's smart to install each OS on a separate partition, and then have a fat32 partition in the middle to store files and such (alternative to the point above). Linux is easy enough, but can windows be trained to use those files instead of the ones it sets up on installation? (Already have some stuff on this, but suggestions would be appreciated)
Why don't you use vmware to convert your existing xp into into a virtual machine? It doesn't get any easier than that.
Fat32 defragments badly, has file size limits and has trouble with Linux type permissions. Not recommended. Even for a shared partition, I would use ntfs rather than FAT. And now that there are ext2/ext3 drivers for XP, you may wish to do without a shared partition altogether.
It seems to me you are asking the impossible. AFAIK, there isn't any virtualization solution that will run a native install. And how could there be? Your XP install will be tailored for the hardware in your computer while, as a rule, a virtualization product involves a set of faked hardware to abstract the many different components that make one pc/server different from another one.
The closest you will get is something like vmware ESX server (pretty expensive, by the way) or XEN. Both act as their own operating system so you skip the added indirection of a separate operating system and get better performance - but in both cases, you still use a virtual image.
I think that, if being able to run both systems natively is essential, you should really be looking out for a second computer. I am sure there are plenty of affordable used computers that still run linux perfectly fine.
Distribution: Windows XP / Ubuntu 8.10 / Fedora 10
Your XP install will be tailored for the hardware in your computer while, as a rule, a virtualization product involves a set of faked hardware to abstract the many different components that make one pc/server different from another one.
I had the idea that it might be possible to use hardware profiles (they're usually only used for laptops, but it could work), one for the real boot and one for the virtual machine boot. But I may be wrong. I know for a fact that booting a "real" partition can be done, but I doubt XP would be as tolerant of the hardware change as linux.
XEN could be an option, if the performance hit isn't too big. The whole point of avoiding putting Windows in an image is really performance for me. I wanted the partition to be real so I could boot to it if I needed the performance, but if I could get some virtualization solution with decent performance that'd be fine too.