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I am fairly new to Linux, and have only tried Ubuntu sporadically over the years since it was first released. I just bought a new laptop with a quad-core i3 processor and 4GB RAM. I need Windows 7 because I develop software using Visual Studio for a living.

However, I am interested in trying out Linux more to learn about it. Is it feasible to run Windows 7 inside a VM within Ubuntu (or other distro) with my hardware configuration? Visual Studio is a memory hog, so I will need most of that 4 GB inside the Windows 7 VM when running.

(And yes, I realize I can dual boot...would just prefer to have one inside the other)

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migrated from unix.stackexchange.com May 13 '11 at 21:28

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I'd simply use a dual boot, probably would be a good thing for your productivity as well. Want back to Ubuntu? Simply reboot, shouldn't take much longer than booting your VM –  Ivo Flipse May 13 '11 at 21:30

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

If you have one OS that you live on and one that you tinker with, I'd suggest installing the playground OS as a guest and leaving your core OS as the host. That way if anything goes wrong or you lose performance, your livelihood doesn't suffer. You can always "put Linux to bed" and have a dedicated Windows machine at your disposal.

That said, I don't know of any reason that you couldn't run a Win7 guest on a Linux host with your configuration. You'll just see a drop in Windows performance, the significance of which will vary based on your particular hardware and VM setup.

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I second this. Although running Windows inside Ubuntu should work just fine, Windows will be a little more sluggish than if it were native, and considering that VS is pretty sluggish normally that could get very annoying. I don't see any reason not to install Windows as the host OS and run Linux inside of VirtualBox/VMWare/Microsoft Virtual PC/whatever (I recommend VirtualBox on Windows as a free choice, VMWare Workstation if you have access to it). –  jcrawfordor May 13 '11 at 23:24

I've run Windows 7 just fine inside a VirtualBox VM on a much older machine than yours (Core 2 Duo E6700 with 3.5GB of RAM.) You won't get the Aero eye candy but it's otherwise quite snappy.

I never used Visual Studio on this VM, though; YMMV.

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