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I'm going to reformat my computer today and install Linux Mint on it. I developer on a .NET stack mainly for work and home, but I hate using Windows (go figure).

What specs do I need for Visual Studio 2010 to run decently on my Virtual Machine? How much hard drive should I give my VM so I don't accidentally run out of space? How well does Windows 7 run on a VirtualBox virtual machine?

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It would be helpful to know the specs of your host machine in order to be able to give a decent answer. – Xanny Oct 4 '10 at 16:55
up vote 5 down vote accepted

A) Running a guest OS on a system that has hardware enabled x86 emulation is a must to maximize performance. Verify if your processor supports AMD-V (if AMD) or Intel VT-x (if Intel).

B) Increasing the size of virtual hard disks containing Windows after the fact is not the most enjoyable task in the world in VirtualBox, so I would suggest a larger "Expanding Drive" option. Let's say, maybe 100 Gigabytes. Visual Studio doesn't like installing on a secondary drive, at least it didn't when I tried to do it in an XP guest in VirtualBox, hence leaving the extra space for yourself.

Larger fixed disks can be a pain to migrate, because VirtualBox stores it as one large file, which some filesystems (and flash drives/external hard drives) have issues with.

C) Windows 7 should work well for you. Make sure to install Guest Additions when you have finished your install for the best experience.

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Minimum Specs:

  • At least two virtual cores, more will be better
  • At least 2GB of RAM, but it may need more depending on what you are developing (do you need SQL Server on the same VM?)
  • I would start with at least an 80GB virtual drive - but really it depends entirely on what you are going to install and how large your working data set is. Don't pick the "automatically expand" option as performance tends to degrade over time as the bytes get written all over. Make sure the container is adequately defragmented, as well as the virtual drive itself.
  • You can get the same performance out of a "dynamically expanding" drive through compaction and using sdelete.exe to clean up the free space, but it is more work and needs to be done periodically to maintain similar performance.

We use a bunch of virtualized machines for Windows (Hyper-V on the servers and VirtualBox on the desktops) and they work quite well, just make sure you have enough resources (CPU/RAM/IO) on the host to ensure good performance. I/O seems to be the often overlooked component that leads to sluggish VM performance. VirtualBox would probably be my first choice for Linux Mint as well.

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  • a) don't know.
  • b) Give it as much as you want. Say several hundred GB. Select the "expanding drive" option, and it will only use what it needs. I have a 500 GB internal drive, and my Win7 drive is 500GB also, although I'm only using about 30GB right now.
  • c) Very well.
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Windows 7 ultimate SP1 plus all hotfixes should require about 20 GB. Visual Studio is a heavy install, but if you only care about installing that and a few other development utilities (and using only shared folders for actual project's storage), then a 40 GB fixed drive should be enough.

Migrating is not actually hard, but a major pain in the s, so if you WILL be using space for anything else, then 60-80 GB is recommended.

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