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I just started playing with VirtualBox to check out different versions of Linux.

I was wondering if it would be possible (and recommended) to set up a single virtual machine with multiple partitions - one for each separate version of Linux, one for swap memory, and one fully shared /home partition?

Still new to Linux, but I've read this is a good way to partition so you can share common applications between Linux installations, however I think everything I've read is pertaining to literal partitions and not virtual machines.

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2 Answers 2

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You still partition the virtual disk, so if you would like to try this, feel free. In this case a virtual machine can be treated the same as a physical machine.

As for actually doing this, it's usefulness is debatable. It's fine if you want to mount /home across OSes. But depending on which distros you are using, it might be tough to get the apps to work across distros.

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This question has made me wonder if it's worth it to configure (say) 10 different vm's to all use the same swap... –  DaveParillo Jun 11 '10 at 5:26
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@DaveParillo - There is a simpler way to do that. Create a separate virtual disk and mount that as swap on each VM. If you have VMs sharing the same swap though, you'll only be able to run one at a time regardless of how you do it. Disk space is cheap enough where I wouldn't worry about it though, personally. –  MDMarra Jun 11 '10 at 5:31

I agree with MarkM. You could do this, but considering you are new to Linux & you specifically want to play with different types of linux distros, the applications are not likely to play nice together anyways. More trouble than it's worth.

If you are just experimenting with a distro, I would keep it simple - use your distro's defaults & that typically means installing everything in one big root partition. If you are playing, most of your files will be somewhere on your host computer anyways - another reason to not bother with too fancy partition schemes.

As an aside, if you really are new to linux, instead of installing them in a vm, have you considered playing with live CD's? That way you don't have to install anything, just boot from the CD & start playing.

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or run the live cds inside a virtual machine :) –  akira Jun 11 '10 at 6:00

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