I've been using dual boot with Windows and Ubuntu for a long time. To kill the troll before it growls, I won't stop using either any time soon, as both have pros and cons. Now, as virtualization improves constantly and I have a computer that supports hardware assisted virtualization, I was thinking of trying to virtualize my setup (it's now a multi-boot rather than simply dual boot).
I've read a lot of posts, here and on other sites but unfortunately the information sometimes seem contradictory and although I'm far from a computer illiterate (or I wouldn't even consider this) I'm not an expert either and am likely to miss some aspects of the problem.
I made a pic to explain my config but the spam-filter doesn't let me show it my config. As you can see it's now a 4-way boot. I have partitions for all systems and an additional HD for sharing files between systems (all systems have access to this disk):
I was considering Type 1 hypervisors as they are the closest to real multi-boot but I'm not even sure I could access my MVs from this machine with such virtualization as it's mostly used for servers. My most resource hungry OS would be Win8, followed by XBMC and Kubuntu (using the plasma desktop, no compiz). I have to forget the free vSphere Hypervisor as it requires true server hardware. This would leave me these options:
Microsoft Hyper-V: It's already included with Win8 as a "client" edition but from what I've read it's missing some features like GPU acceleration (no RemoteFX). I have enabled it and noticed a longer boot for Win8 but everything else seem to run fine. It seems like an easy solution if I can run other OSs full-screen with good performance. There is also the free Hyper-V server 2012 that might (or not) improve performance. I haven't found any feature comparison for those.
Xen: I could use Ubuntu as guest0 and install Xen hypervisor easily, but there are issues on the Guest0 (such as all sound being horrible noises) so I would probably need another guest to use Ubuntu. Not sure how a minimal guest0 affects performance, and if I can have full-screen for my VMs on the host machine rather than on a distant machine.
Oracle Virtual Box: is free and I could run it in Windows to access my Ubuntu system, even being able to keep it on it's partition and boot directly to it if needed. However it means I rely on Windows as it's a Type 2. Virtualizing Win8 is probably not the best way to go (licences, performance, no direct boot).
VMWare Workstation: I've heard it has good performance, even for running Windows under Ubuntu, but it's not free. Now I know this question is more debatable but is the improved performance really worth the price?
Anything I missed?
In addition to performance, licences and ease of access, I have to consider the migration. If I need to convert my partitions to virtual disks, I'll have to plug in a third HD because I don't have enough space to do it in place. However, I prefer a more complicated setup and an easy to use/reliable system over something that works out-of-the box, but poorly, or requires plenty of manipulation each time (that's something I like in Linux systems, they might require you to hand-edit text files, but once you have everything running, it just runs and doesn't ask you ten confirmations each time).
Ideally, I would have to click one icon to start my VM and switch to it, and some easy KB to switch to another running one. Of course I'm not sure it's possible.
What would be the best way to virtualize this, if there is one?