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For the computer experts: Suggestions on the best way to proceed

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  • For the computer experts: Suggestions on the best way to proceed

    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?
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  • #2
    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.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Evan

      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
      Last edited by fredf; 04-20-2009, 12:08 PM.

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      • #4
        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~
        Civil engineers build targets, Mechanical engineers build weapons.

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        • #5
          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.
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          • #6
            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
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            • #7
              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

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              • #8
                BTW, I'm going to hijack my own thread for the moment. On the news this AM, Sun Microsystems has been bought by Oracle.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Evan
                  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.
                  Last edited by lazlo; 04-20-2009, 01:03 PM.
                  "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Evan
                    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...
                    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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                    • #11
                      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

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                      • #12
                        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.

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                        • #13
                          removable hard drive trays

                          Originally posted by Evan
                          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.

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                          • #14
                            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.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Evan
                              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.

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