It’s hard to find the perfect operating system for your PC. Windows isn’t the safest OS, but it probably runs all of your programs and games. Linux is much less vulnerable to the Internet’s threats, but it doesn’t natively support Windows applications.
Fortunately, modern PCs are powerful enough to run more than one operating system at the same time. Virtualization software such as VMWare’s VMWare Server or Microsoft’s Virtual PC 2007, both of which are free, let you run guest operating systems in memory and disk spaces isolated from the host operating system. Not only does this arrangement allow you to benefit from the strengths of both operating systems, but you can also test risky features or programs on the guest OS while keeping your host system safe from harm.
I did install VMWare Server under Windows Vista and then created a virtual machine running Ubuntu Linux 7.04. If you do the same, once Ubuntu is installed and running in a virtual machine, you’ll be able to use some of the thousands of available (and free) applications that run under Linux, as well as take advantage of the Ubuntu VM to browse the Web and use other Internet resources more safely. After finishing your test drive, you might even consider replacing Windows with Ubuntu as your system’s main OS. 🙂
Officially, VMWare Server is supported only under Server versions of Windows. But it runs under any Windows OS that has Microsoft’s Internet Information Server (IIS) installed, including Windows Vista–in fact, I performed the installation described below in Windows Vista Ultimate. Unlike Virtual PC 2007, VMWare also comes in a Linux version, which permits you to run dozens of Windows, Linux, and other OS versions from within a Linux host system.
Before downloading VMWare Server, click on the registration link on the same page and fill out the obligatory form to receive one or more serial numbers. Then download and install the software, and enter the serial numbers when prompted. Choose Start, All Programs, VMWare, VMWare Server, VMWare Server Console to launch the server, and click OK to create and run virtual machines on the local computer (VMWare can also run virtual machines stored on other computers on a network). Click New Virtual Machine and step through the wizard. If you’re not sure how to answer when the wizard asks you how your virtual machine should connect to the network, stick with the default bridged networking option.
Load an OS
Next, insert the installation disc of the operating system you intend to load, select the virtual machine you just created in the VMWare console’s Inventory list, and click Start this virtual machine. If your system has multiple DVD or CD drives, you may have to experiment by inserting the disc into different drives until you find the one that VMWare chose to use with your virtual machine. If the VM finds no boot media in its default drive, it halts with an error–just click the Restart Guest button on the console’s toolbar after switching the disc to a different drive. Once the VM finds the disc and boots from it, you’ll be able to install the guest OS normally.