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On my previous Windows Vista laptop, I used to run Portable Ubuntu Remix for Windows, which is based on coLinux, like the similar andLinux. This worked fairly well with limited system resources (a Ubuntu 08.04 VM with 256 MB RAM on a 2 GB 32-bit Windows Vista host). It allowed me to quickly port my development efforts from Windows to Linux, or just to have a "real" (vs. just Cygwin, which I have, too) Linux system available while on the road.

Now, I've moved to a 64-bit Windows 7 laptop with 8 GB, but unfortunately coLinux has not been ported to 64-bit yet, and it doesn't look like this will happen soon. Even though most 32-bit software "just works" on Windows, coLinux wouldn't because of its kernel driver. So, it seems like the preferred approach (cp. Running Linux inside Windows XP, ie no dual booting, What is the most efficient way to run Windows and Linux at the same time?) doesn't work any more.

My best idea is setting up a 64-bit Ubuntu 12.10 VM in VirtualBox, but despite Seamless Mode, I'm afraid the integration with the host Windows OS won't be as smooth as with Portable Ubuntu (which uses Xming for displaying the windows), and I have to constantly fiddle with the Host key to move between both worlds.

How do you tackle this?

  1. Does any (preferably free and non-intrusive) virtualization solution handle the host integration better?
  2. Or should I just boot into non-GUI mode and launch X applications through SSH with Xming?
  3. What are your sizing recommendations for the guest OS (assuming just some terminals, editor, and compiler)?
  4. Would a specialized minimal Linux distribution be better suited for running with little resources?
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I voted you up, I am very curious of this! If no one has an answer, I would suggest using Virtualbox. As long as you install the guest additions, you shouldn't have issues (or a need) for the host key fiddling. I have an arch and Ubuntu vm at work, both are great for switching back and forth with ease. Plus you an define the resources allowed to them. Just my .02. –  nerdwaller Nov 15 '12 at 13:42
    
@nerdwaller: Yes, I'm currently running a VirtualBox VM. However, even with the guest additions, I have to press the host key to return key combos like Alt-Tab from the guest to the host computer. I guess there's no way around this. –  Ingo Karkat Nov 15 '12 at 14:12
    
Oh, I see what you are saying - my mistake. I really hope someone has something there, that coLinux sounds very cool. –  nerdwaller Nov 15 '12 at 15:12
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2 Answers 2

I would go for the Xming + ssh -X solution.

1) I’m not sure - but you could run your Virtual Mashine in headless mode and launch applications through SSH. That would be pretty non-intrusive,

2) I would.

3) If its a minimal distro you should be fine with a couple of GB of space for the root filesystem / and around 200mb RAM.

4) Yes

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When running programs over forwarded SSH, one cannot copy and paste. I would consider a non-intrusive solution to support copy-paste. –  dotancohen Jun 16 at 17:44
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My way is virtualbox or vmware with the minimal or lighter linux you can run, and you can use vnc between those systems, o TeamViewer for communication.

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