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I like to use linux distros except for the lack of drivers that can fully utilize the hardware. As an example, graphic card drivers for linux cannot perform equally with their windows' counterpart even if they are from the same vendor!

Does using virtualization reduce this problem? Which virtualization technologies / softwares perform well for this case? In Mac world, I think parallels will be the one to choose if I want the guest OS to be able to fully utilize host's hardware. For Linux inside Windows (or the other way around) will parallels do equally well? any other s/w suggestion?

How does ndiswrapper perform compared to virtualization?

I'm using Mint Linux (does it matter?)

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VirtualBox will replace your card with a more generic driver (VirtualBox Graphics Adapter), but in the virtual settings under Display - Video; your able to adjust the amount of Video memory that you wish to use in your virtual. VirtualBox also lets you enable 2D Video acceleration and 3D Acceleration.

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I like to use linux distros except for the lack of drivers that can fully utilize the hardware. As an example, graphic card drivers for linux cannot perform equally with their windows' counterpart even if they are from the same vendor!

Does using virtualization reduce this problem?

No, in fact it can increase or even change the problem. For example, when you use VirtualBox, a different video driver is used, not one for your graphics card. The VirtualBox driver, in my experience, does not take advantage of the nuisances of your video card which menas it's not using all of your hardware. It's using it's virtual hardware.

I'm using Mint Linux (does it matter?)

For your particular case, I'm not sure but in general distribution can have an affect on what hardware will or won't be utilized. Specific distributions can also have trouble in a virtual environment. It depends on the support from the virtuizaltion software vendor.

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In general, a virtual machine will have different drivers to it's host machine. Even if they are the same operating system the virtualisation software will generally provide a set of devices. So whereas the host machine might have an nVidia display, SATA disks and a 100Mbit 3com network card, the virtual machine might have a 'generic' display card, 'SCSI' disks and an AMD gigabit ethernet card. If you replace components on your host machine (such as replacing the graphics card or switching to a SAN for you hosts drives) or even transfer the VM to another machine, the components running inside the VM will stay the same.

Some devices, such as USB, have pass-through drivers. Instead of trying to virtualise every possible type of USB memory stick or web cam, the host passes communications from the device directly to the VM, effectively the VM sees it just as if it was a real machine with the device plugged directly into it, so loads it's own drivers. When a device is passed-through to one VM it generally isn't accessible to the Host machine, or any other VM which is running on the machine.

Finally, because it is up to the virtualisation software to provide virtualised devices, you rely entirely on the decisions of the software company for what it supports. There is no FireWire pass-through support in VMware, for instance. You can plug a Firewire hard drive into your computer and access it via a share from the host, but you couldn't have it show up as a drive in the VM. A firewire camera though, which requires specific drivers to be installed could only be accessed by the host.

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virtualbox has support for a wide variety of drivers, from host to the guest OS.

virtualbox.org

Virtualization is taking a chunk of your resources to let a "guest" OS load, drivers are piggybacked onto the guest OS, as well as strong isolation between the two.

Linux doesn't have quite the support for video drivers as one might think, what distribution are you using?

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