eyesight check

Kevin Hunter hunteke at earlham.edu
Sat Feb 20 15:18:25 GMT 2010

At 3:06am -0500 Sat, 20 Feb 2010, Gryllida wrote:
> I have only one partition. Windows XP currently boots from it. I 
> don't know where I can install Ubuntu... Maybe I could shrink the 
> existing partition, but that's quite dangerous - will XP boot 
> from it again then?

Let me suggest virtualization as the possible better route.  Reasoning:

1. You've suggested that you're much more comfortable with Windows.  If
you're interested to learn Linux, virtualization is one very harmless
way to check it out.

2. You won't need to do any partition management.  The only thing you'll
have to do is create a large file, say 10G for starters.  This large
file would be the "hard drive" of the virtual computer, and you would
create it with the GUI tools available through the virtualization
solution.  This is safer, because contrary to David's experience, I have
definitely encountered instances (2 in the last month) where there were
issues with the existing partition such that the Ubuntu installer didn't
play nice

3. If you decide you don't like it, it's as simple as clicking a delete
button in a GUI, and you get all your disk space back.  Juxtapose that
experience with having to repartition everything again.

4. You can run both systems simultaneously.  It sounds like you live
most of your life in Windows, and trying to convert too quickly might
cause you headache.  Besides, if you're doing web development, you need
to see the rendering capabilities of multiple browsers.  Having to
reboot to windows every so often just to check the rendering of a web
page would get tedious fast.

5. Virtualization tools are free and Free.  VirtualBox is my current
favorite general-purpose virtualization solution because it's super
fast, "just works", is easy to install on almost every platform
(including Windows), and is GPL to boot.  (Side note: VirtualBox is the
*much* bigger loss than MySQL in this Oracle buyout of Sun.  Much bigger.)

6. If you understand the concept that a virtual computer means
"virtualizating /everything/ for the 'guest' computer", then learning
the VirtualBox GUI should take you no more than 30 minutes.  It's very
easy, and has wizards for a large portion of what it does.  Further,
it's help documentation is surprisingly well-written.

Reasons not to go the virtualization route:

- You don't have enough RAM.  Remember that you're virtualizing a
computer, and it will need RAM, just like a physical machine.  So you'd
need devote at least 512M of RAM to a guest Ubuntu while it was running.
  If you don't have the ram to spare, virtualization might not be a

- You don't have the virtualization hardware support available on your
processor or enabled in your BIOS.  I don't actually know how to check
for this with Windows, but on Linux, you would do:

$ grep -Ei "vmx|svm" /proc/cpuinfo

If that returns any data in your flags line, you have the capability.
You might have to enable it in the BIOS, but at least you know you have it.


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