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I'm having an issue I'm sure lots of people have. I LOVE Unix and I'm indifferent about Windows. I would love to be on Unix all the time, but as an avid gamer I find myself forced to use Windows. But luckily I don't need a lot of juice in my Linux environment (mainly it will involve watching videos and programming), so I'm thinking it could work to run Linux virtually in top of Windows in some kind of emulation suite like VirtualBox or VMWare. But the thing is: I want Linux to be running transparently on top of Windows, preferably so it feels like my PC was booted into Linux. This means:

  • Linux should be running on all my monitors (currently just 2) seamlessly
  • The emulated graphics "hardware" should be sufficient to run graphically pleasing user interfaces, including the 3D effects of compiz etc.
  • The Linux environment should have access to my physical hardware such as DVD ROM and external harddrive

I'm looking mainly for a free solution to this, but I also want to hear about any proprietary solutions as I would spend money on this. I'll also accept answers saying that this is impossible, if it in fact is.

Thanks!

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I don't think you can run desktop environments through this, but andLinux does allow Linux programs to be run seamlessly on a Windows OS without virtualisation. Otherwise, VMWare and VirtualBox both have seamless modes. –  Bob Mar 10 '12 at 13:42
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3 Answers

I use VMWARE Workstation for this kind of Virtualization (what you are talking about is Virtualisation, not Emulation).

As far as I'm aware it allows you to use multiple monitors in fullscreen mode, and definately allows you to assign an amount of your 3D memory dedicated to the VM.

It will also have access to all your physical resources - USB, DVD, Network, Sound etc... I know its not free, but VMWare player is, and has the same kind of functionality.

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I've installed Ubuntu on VMWare Player, but the only graphics option I can find is a checkbox called "Accelerate 3D graphics". The graphics hardware is "unknown" in Ubuntu. Also there doesn't appear to be any fancy animations or options of that sort :-( –  Codemonkey Mar 10 '12 at 16:27
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Use virtualbox and enable seamless mode. The linux applications will appear like normal windows on windows. You can use sharing to fix the hard disk issue. Otherwise you can try running with multiple monitors and fullscreen mode, also using vbox sharing for the disks.

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I've done exactly that a couple of years ago. There's a project called Cooperative Linux (or coLinux in short). It basically runs your favourite Linux distro in a virtual machine, but integrates it seamlesly with Windows.

coLinux might be a bit hard to set up. That's why andLinux exists. It's coLinux, but preconfigured.

Result:
http://andlinux.sf.net/screenshots/screenshot.png

Edit

Sorry, apparently what I said above wasn't entirely correct.

andLinux uses coLinux as its core which is confusing for many people. coLinux is a port of the Linux kernel to Windows. Although this technology is a bit like running Linux in a virtual machine, coLinux differs itself by being more of a merger of Windows and the Linux kernel and not an emulated PC, making it more efficient. Xming is used as X server and PulseAudio as sound server.

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