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Background: I have been working on Linux as my desktop OS for a couple years now. I love the development flexibility it provides. However, I also need to run windows since I do video and photo work. Since I need more power for windows encoding/rendering, I plan on moving my Linux world into a virtual machine so I can have both at the same time.

So here is my problem, I would like to be able to move my linux VM around with me - but I'm not sure how best to do it. Perhaps someone else that uses VM's can help me decide which of these methods is the easiest or provides the most benefits.

  1. Install linux onto my netbook and deal with slower, single-core performance and only 2GB of ram. However, I can still plug a full size monitor, keyboard, and mouse into it.

  2. Buy an external 2.5 hard drive enclosure and put an SSD (or plain SATA drive) in it and store my VM instance on it. That way I can just pug it into whatever computer I come too and run it (assuming they have VirtualBox installed). Most of my machines are only USB 2.0 though so I'm worried this might be a little slow trying to run on OS off it.

  3. Buy a laptop just for linux, and keep my i7 desktop for windows work.

If there are any other ways to solve this problem I'm open to them also.

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possible duplicate of Portable Virtual Machine – Oliver Salzburg Apr 25 '12 at 15:28

I use method #2. My linux "machine" lives on an external hard drive and I use it both at work and at home. At home, it's my primary machine; the host Win7 system is used mostly for Visio, Excel stuff Calc can't handle, and managing my torrents.

System specifics: Crunchbang Linux (a Debian variant paired with Openbox), USB3 hard drive running on USB2 ports, VirtualBox

I've been running this set-up for several months and I really it. A few caveats, though, to include in your decision:

  • use a hard drive, not a flash drive; flash write speeds are a fraction of USB2.0, so it runs horribly slow
  • you need to have your vm software installed on all of the computers you want to run the vm on (there are portable versions running around, but I've never gotten them to work)
  • when moving between hosts, you can't hibernate but have to shut down completely
  • you have to split your RAM between the host and the vm
  • the "heaviest" things I run on my vm are Eclipse and LibreOffice; no eyecandy desktop manager, no gaming, etc.
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I would use a remote access method to get to your vm instead, such as vnc. Use ssh tunnel always so that you need to set up ssh access (do not use the default port either). This is how I access my vm from anywhere. If the bandwidth is low while moving, at least ssh access is still there to do work. I think this is much more flexible.

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Good idea, but my home internet isn't fast enough to host something like this, and it's really expensive for a VPS with at least 2GB of RAM (to run a GUI and applications). – Xeoncross Apr 25 '12 at 16:19
what bandwidth you have. i have the lowest (738kbps) dsl and it works fine. – johnshen64 Apr 25 '12 at 16:22

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