PDA

View Full Version : For the computer experts: Suggestions on the best way to proceed



Evan
04-20-2009, 08:47 AM
I am expecting a package of computer parts later today and will be building my new system. I haven't decided which way to go for an OS but am leaning toward installing Ubuntu as the host and then running VirtualBox or QEMU as a virtual machine to run XP. Or, I can install XP and run LINUX in a VM. Or, I can install Vista and run etc etc..

I have licences for everything several times over so that is no issue. The machine will be capable of running whatever I need with an Athlon X2 7750 (unlocked multiplier) black box edition, 4 gigs of DDR800 and 500 gigs of SATA drive space.

Running XP well is a must have. I have a shed load of Windows software that I use and will continue to use. Running Linux is no problem either and there are applications there I would like to use.

One reason for installing XP as the host is that there are several new ray tracers that only run on Windows and I don't want to cripple them in a VM. Ray tracing is slow enough without adding an emulation layer.

Another option is to install both OSes on a separate drive each and emulate the other in the VM of each. That way I can use either regardless of which is the current host but if I need max performance I can reboot to the host I need. It's just a matter pf physically enabling/disabling which boot drive to use.

I am even considering installing the OSes on 16 gig type 6 SDHC flash ram and just sticking in whatever card contains the OS of choice to boot from.

Comments?

MTNGUN
04-20-2009, 11:01 AM
I'm definitely not in the expert category, but I do run both linux and xp, so.......

How 'bout first installing XP on one partition, then installing Linux on another partition (I also suggest creating a 3rd partition for future Linux upgrades). The Ubuntu set up disk will let you do this, and will automatically create a "dual boot" menu using "grub." When you boot the computer, the grub menu will provide the option of launching either XP or Linux.

Only downside is that the dual boot files have been known to become corrupted. This has happened to me a couple of times. You then have to repair or reinstall the boot files, using a program called SuperGrub. Not difficult, just annoying.

The 3rd partition is for installing the next release of Ubuntu without disturbing your old OS's. Ubuntu issues a new release every 6 months. Unlike Windoze upgrades, the Linux upgrades are usually genuine improvements and worth considering. Grub should recognize all your OS's and give you a choice of booting into any of them.

BTW, if you like Ubuntu, you'll love Mint, which is based on Ubuntu and includes many of the proprietary drivers that Ubuntu lacks.

As much as we complain about Windoze, there are many technical applications for Windoze that are not available for Linux. I use Linux for web surfing/email/spreadsheets but break out XP for CAD, etc..

Besides the VM option, some Windoze applications can run in Linux using Wine, a Windoze emulator. I have a critical Liberty Basic program that I am too busy to move to another language, so I just run Liberty Basic in Wine. It works fine. On the other hand, TurboCad will not run in Wine, so I have to boot into XP for that. And as you say, some apps are slow enough already without slowing them down further by running them in a VM or in Wine.

fredf
04-20-2009, 12:04 PM
I am even considering installing the OSes on 16 gig type 6 SDHC flash ram and just sticking in whatever card contains the OS of choice to boot from.

Comments?

Evan, the problem with this is the flashes can be rewritten a finite (albeit large) number of times, and OS's tend to rewrite stuff often. If you could do like a CDboot where everything is copied to a RAM drive, and then figure out how to recopy to flash when you shut down it would work, I would just hesitate to boot an OS from flash

how about removable drive trays???

fred

rockrat
04-20-2009, 12:06 PM
This is a good sounding thread. I have a box that has stopped behaving correctly. This box is my test box, used for downloading and seeing if a program is safe and working, but since the box refuses to access the internet and takes 10 min to boot up to a usable machine, I was about to wipe it and install a dual Windows / Linux system.

Now I see a os called Ubuntu? Any quick info on this and how it is a good selection for a user?

Thanks
rock~

Evan
04-20-2009, 12:10 PM
The secret to making flash work is a couple of things. First, place the page file on another drive. This can have a very significant benefit with XP. If the other drive uses a different controller then system file access and page file access can occur simultaneously. With XP if you manually allocate the minimum possible space for the page file on the system drive it will automatically use other allocated space on other drives first.

The other way to prevent write aging is to just use a card that is much larger than the OS installation. Wear leveling will take care of the rest.

Evan
04-20-2009, 12:15 PM
Any quick info on this and how it is a good selection for a user?


The best way to answer that is for you to download the Ubuntu WUBI install and try it yourself. It installs Linux under Windows and can be just as easily removed.

http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu/downloadmirrors#wubi

fasto
04-20-2009, 12:17 PM
I have Debian Lenny on my laptop, and I use VMWare Server to run XP on top of that.

This works flawlessly.

VMWare Server is not free; it costs $179. It's the best $179 I've ever spent. If you've looked at older vserions of VMware and were disappointed, V6.5 is far superior. I eval'd V5.0 of VMWare and it did not work well, V6.5 is flawless.

My laptop is quite lame in the CPU department, with a Centrino @ 1.6 GHz. I can't notice any performance difference between the VMWare XP and the "regular" XP, even in apps such as solidworks or my cam program (whose name escapes me at the moment).
--
Aaron

Evan
04-20-2009, 12:21 PM
BTW, I'm going to hijack my own thread for the moment. On the news this AM, Sun Microsystems has been bought by Oracle.

lazlo
04-20-2009, 12:55 PM
leaning toward installing Ubuntu as the host and then running VirtualBox or QEMU as a virtual machine to run XP. Or, I can install XP and run LINUX in a VM. Or, I can install Vista and run etc etc.

One catch is that you do a lot of graphics, and until recently, Neither Direct3D or OpenGL acceleration was virtualized in VMWare and Parallels, so you don't get accelerated 3-D graphics on Windows XP guests. So CAD and games, POV-Ray etc won't run accelerated.

The latest version of VMWare Workstation 6.5 added a partial implementation of DirectX 9 with Shader Model 2.0 on Windows XP guests. 6.5.1 has a comment in the release notes that there were bug fixes. YMMV.

Edit: I just checked, and neither VirtualBox nor QEMU have Direct3D or OpenGL acceleration.

Personally, I'd go with a Multi-OS install. Linux supplies the bootloader by default.

lazlo
04-20-2009, 01:01 PM
On the news this AM, Sun Microsystems has been bought by Oracle.

Yeah, that was a huge mistake for IBM -- last week they walked away from negotiations to buy Sun for the same price ($7 Billion). Now they have an 800 lb Gorilla to deal with...

Ryobiguy
04-20-2009, 01:09 PM
My vote is for one of Evan's own suggestions: have dual boot and virtualize access to the other OS's partition. Win-Win-and-Win situation.

If I had to pick one or the other, sadly it would be XP as a host OS. Mostly this would be because of graphics and drivers, in case you need to hook anything up to it.

One reason I'd personally run Linux as a host OS is for EMC^2. Recently I tried to see what would happen if it were virtualized, and well, as expected it wasn't too happy. Not that I would control a machine from a VMWare EMC, this would be just for developing my manual lathe change-gear and threading-dial eliminator plug-in for it.

-Matt

MTNGUN
04-20-2009, 01:25 PM
Regarding booting from a flash drive or pen drive, it can be done, but setup is a pain. Merely copying the iso file to the flash drive does not work. Googling will lead you to detailed instructions, which may or may not work with your particular box and operating system.

Dual booting from the hard drive is the way to go, and most Linux distro CDs will give you the option of setting this up automatically. Just install XP first and Linux second, not the other way around.

vincemulhollon
04-20-2009, 01:28 PM
I am even considering installing the OSes on 16 gig type 6 SDHC flash ram and just sticking in whatever card contains the OS of choice to boot from.

I have extensive multi year experience using removable hard drive trays for this application. Insert the good windows hard drive for, well, pretty much nothing anymore other than Quicken. Insert the "bad" windows hard drive for games and internet stuff. Insert the Linux hard drive for everything else.

Good trays will cost somewere in the low two digit range. Sold by the usual suspects, tigerdirect, cyberguys, etc.

Time required to swap drive is, 1) shut off pc 2) turn key 3) Pull lever 4) slide tray containing drive out and place on shelf 5) Reverse process to install other OS.

dp
04-20-2009, 01:34 PM
The very best bet with the OS is to optimize for your applications. Virtualization provides a lot of things like versatility, security, and robustness, but at the expense of performance. Many people would never notice the performance issue or would and not care because of the benefits. But if you need absolutely to extract maximum performance from your hardware as in ray tracing then the OS that best supports that should be the host OS.

All the host OS's can provide virtualization services so it's not like you give anything up. No virtualization tool does video pass-through yet, so the video card your VM sees is a generic but nice interface. 3D is badly supported and that will probably never be virtualized to anyone's satisfaction, hence the interest in pass-through video. I have an old gray cell that is trying to remind me that Intel is working on a chipset to support this.

Final solution if you need this extreme performance in multiple OS's is to multiboot and run each OS natively. This is old technology but still be best technology for maximizing performance at the expense of convenience.

The last time I checked Windows was still the best OS for Intel machines and thread-heavy applications, particularly Java. Ray tracing won't be affected because it is a single threaded process, but good thread handling does improve performance if you wish to do more than ray trace at any particular time.

No matter what OS, more cores is better, and at least a gig of RAM/core.

dp
04-20-2009, 01:41 PM
The best way to answer that is for you to download the Ubuntu WUBI install and try it yourself. It installs Linux under Windows and can be just as easily removed.

http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu/downloadmirrors#wubi


Ubuntu is kind of a Linux for Dummies solution. It is the closest thing to Windows and Mac OS for hand-holding from the vendor. Every aspect of it is manageable and maintainable via Ubuntu processes. You barely know you're running Linux. The target market for Ubuntu has been the third world and end users that have little money, poor hardware, and no expertise. They've done a hell of a job with it.

dp
04-20-2009, 01:51 PM
BTW, I'm going to hijack my own thread for the moment. On the news this AM, Sun Microsystems has been bought by Oracle.

That is going to be an interesting development for MySQL, the very popular open source alternative to Oracle's flagship DBMS product.

This puts Oracle head to head against IBM in the high-end hardware market. Sun's products are large scale servers and storage. In the mix is an interesting blend of software: StarOffice, MySQL, Solaris OS, Sun's new open source virtualizing software, and the diamond in IBM's eye, Java.

It will be very interesting to see what Oracle keeps. They've been very big on marginalizing the OS and hardware by going with lots of Linux on small cheap hardware. Now they own the 800 lb gorilla of hardware vendors. What to do?

The really interesting thing is, Oracle has some of the most punitive licensing requirements in the industry. Much of what they got from Sun is open source software and some competes directly in Oracle's market segment. I hope they don't squash MySQL like a bug - I use a lot of it here.

RancherBill
04-20-2009, 01:51 PM
I concur with the dual boot from a basic XP install. The only thing to check is to make sure Ubantu reads NTFS disks. NTFS is a Microsoft deal and I am not sure whether the Linux guys will support it.

I have had a dual boot XP / Win 98 system for 5 years. I have a Win98 application that I can't live without. When in 98 I can't read NTFS, but in XP I can read the FAT32.

I wouldn't use the flash, it's too slow. It would work but it doesn't make sense.

Evan
04-20-2009, 02:05 PM
I wouldn't use the flash, it's too slow. It would work but it doesn't make sense.


Not any more. The new class six devices significantly exceed the minimum specification.


Benchmarks & Testing
The first synthetic test that I performed on the A-DATA 16GB SDHC card was with HD Tach. HD Tach showed a random access time of 0.8ms, an average read time of 18.1MB/sec and an average write time of 13.9MB/s. The A-DATA 16GB SDHC card is a class 6 SDHC card and that specification guarantees a 6MB/sec minimum transfer rate making this card significantly faster.

Not too long ago I tested the OCZ 8GB SDHC card and it showed an average read speed of 15.4MB/sec and an average write speed of 11.3MB/sec. Both these cards were tested in the same SanDisk SDHC multi card reader. That makes the A-DATA 16GB SDHC card quite a bit faster than the OCZ card in read and write performance even though both cards are class 6 SDHC cards.



http://www.i4u.com/full-review-319.html

I'm going to town now as I just heard that my parts showed up at the wife's shop. :)

tony ennis
04-20-2009, 02:15 PM
I'd install as the real OS the one that supports your most important application.

You mentioned ray tracing specifically. So, if that's an XP app, then I'd install XP. Linux or whatever would be done via VMWare. The free version is fine.


Ray tracing is slow enough without adding an emulation layer

I agree with the sentiment, but I'm not sure it's really an emulation layer any more, especially for ray tracing (or any other CPU-bound application) where you wouldn't want to be touch hardware anyway. In other words, I wouldn't hurt myself to make the real OS the one that supports the ray tracer.

lazlo
04-20-2009, 02:15 PM
Not any more. The new class six devices significantly exceed the minimum specification.

Not only that, but modern flash has write-leveling logic which spreads writes across the least frequently used sectors, and also buffers writes. That greatly increases the lifespan of the flash, and greatly improves the latency.


This puts Oracle head to head against IBM in the high-end hardware market.

The high-end database/transaction processing market was dominated by IBM servers running DB2 on AIX versus Sun servers running Oracle on Solaris.

IBM could have bought their primary competitor, and let them die on the vine. Instead, they've created a monster.

You can pretty much guarantee that Larry is going to let MySQL wither...

rotate
04-20-2009, 03:20 PM
For all the reasons stated above, I'd install XP natively and run Linux using VirtualBox. I've been playing around with VritualBox and I'm impressed by both how well it work and the performance.

JoeBean
04-20-2009, 03:58 PM
On the point of virtualization software the prior warnings about DirectX/OpenGL support and speed issues, you have to be careful and there are huge differences between the various players. I work almost exclusively on macs for my own machines and those of friends, but work with and manage unix, unixesque, and windows based OSes. Linux and the BSD variants tend to run well under almost any VM, but to get windows running fast, stable, transparent, and supporting the most hardware and software requires carefully choosing the right VM. I haven't ran Windows in a VM under the OS BSD variants or the various Linux flavours, but under OSX Parallels blows everything else away. I recently (<3 months ago) went through again every VM system available, from the free to the pay, and Parallels was the only one that worked well. If you go to AutoDESK's forums you'll see a number of their employees are using Parallels and give some "unofficial" support to it, and although it had some shortcomings in prior releases it's most recent release has proven to be rock-solid. In fact a friend of mine who's in the custom millwork business and does almost everything on CNC equipment via MicroVellum on AutoCAD had his new Macbook Pro setup with Parallels and XP and everything worked perfectly, at 90%+ speed, which really is incredible. In fact some things seem to actually be faster than dual-booting. He runs in Coherence mode and has it start on the first workspace and even though he's relatively computer illiterate to him he can't even tell he's running a separate system, to him it's as though I somehow magically installed Windows and merged it with OSX.

I can't say enough good about Parallels on OSX. As I said, though, I don't know how well it works in Linux variants or the OS BSDs.

Terry

dp
04-20-2009, 04:10 PM
I can't say enough good about Parallels on OSX.
Terry

My problem with Parallels, which I can't say enough bad things about :), is the whack job they did with security. They have completely blurred the line between host and VM by deep integration. In the early days when the VM had access to the entire host hard drive it was even more absurd. I finally gave up on them and moved to VMWare where security is still taken seriously.

It seems to be too that Parallels replaces some Windows dll files with their own hacked versions in order to do some of the stuff they're doing.

Anyway, it's not important for systems that never go near the Internet.

lazlo
04-20-2009, 04:13 PM
On the point of virtualization software the prior warnings about DirectX/OpenGL support and speed issues, you have to be careful and there are huge differences between the various players.

but under OSX Parallels blows everything else away.

VMware Fusion vs Parallels Running AutoCAD 2009 on a Mac (http://www.jigsawcad.com/articles/october-2008/vmware-fusion-vs-parallels-running-autocad-2009-on-a-mac.aspx)

Conclusion

So there we have it: on exactly the same machine running exactly the same tests, VMware Fusion completed the [AutoCAD 2009] tasks, on average, in a time 51% quicker than that of Parallels.

I think one of VMware Fusion’s key advantages lies in its ability to use two processors, whereas Parallels can only use one. With the rate at which technology and software are developing, it’s quite clear that when it come to processors ‘the more the merrier’!

Despite the huge difference in performance between Fusion and Parallels, neither of them compare to the performance you get when running Windows using Bootcamp. Bootcamp’s performance times under the same test conditions were 50% better again than even those of Fusion.

lazlo
04-20-2009, 04:15 PM
My problem with Parallels, which I can't say enough bad things about :), is the whack job they did with security. They have completely blurred the line between host and VM by deep integration.

Because that's the cheezy way to make a virtual machine run faster: unvirtualize as much as you can :)

MTNGUN
04-20-2009, 04:24 PM
I'm not sure what Evan has in mind for Linux. Usually people run Linux because 1) it's free or 2) it's more secure than Windoze or 3) to run EMC.

I love Linux for day to day computing because it's free and resistant to malware. For browsing, emailing, listening to music, spreadsheets, and word processing, Linux works about as well as Windoze, running many of the same apps like Firefox, Thunderbird, and OpenOffice. Plus, you can gloat when someone posts the once-a-week thread on how malware screwed up their Windoze computer.

However, for someone like Evan who spends a lot of time running technical applications on Windoze, it makes sense to just use a Windoze box. I'm sure Evan has several computers, so there is no point in trying to make one computer do everything.

If you want to play with EMC, use a Linux box or dual boot into Linux.

dp
04-20-2009, 04:30 PM
Because that's the cheezy way to make a virtual machine run faster: unvirtualize as much as you can :)

It raised quite a big stink when I demonstrated on their BBS that it was trivial to write some Windows malware that could be downloaded by IE without the typical user being aware, would run on the Mac, not the VM, and which could zip up and mail anywhere in the world the entire Parallels virtual machine. And when it got to it's new home it would run just fine. It made identity theft so much easier. It is still a problem. That may still be the longest threads on that BBS ;) It makes me chuckle when people say you can't write a Windows virus that will run in OS X but in fact it takes just a few minutes and uses less code than this post.

Edit: I should probably add so I don't get sued that Parallels has probably fixed many of the problems I had with security, but I quit looking quite a while ago. Buyer beware, as always.

Evan
04-20-2009, 06:23 PM
What I have in mind is certain graphics applications that are not available for Windows. There are really quite a few apps that are written for Linux only and I can't afford to dedicate a fast machine to either OS alone. This new machine will be an order of magnitude faster than my fastest current machine. Except for my core duo laptop I haven't bought a new machine in 5 years. Also, my main machine that I use most is dying. The motherboard is going south on a permanent vacation and right now I have it running at half speed just to keep it from blue screening.