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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):

SU 531937 example

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:

Type 1

  • 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.

Type 2

  • 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?

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closed as not constructive by Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, ChrisF, Dave, Tog, 8088 Jan 10 '13 at 17:30

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I don't believe what you are asking for is possible exactly how you have described, especially not in any 'Type 1' virtual host as you don't have access to the desktops of the virtual machines from the console. If I were you, I would do this:

-Image each 'machine' into .vmdk format to an external drive (you'll have to find the correct installs for vconverters that will do the job for each of your operating systems, vmware vcenter converter stand alone should work in windows for example)

-Delete the partitions on your PC

-Install Windows 8 from scratch using the recommended disk space only, and keeping the rest of the space unpartitioned

-Repartition the empty space as a data partition for the image locations of the .vmdk files

-Install VMware Workstation and import the vmdk files to create the virtual machines

-Create a virtual disk and assign it to all virtual machines (this is the data transfer partition you had previously), unless you can pass through the physical hard drive (HD2) itself. If not then slap the virtual drive on the second hard drive.

This will give you Windows 8 as a frame to work in for the VMware workstation to reside. This combination of windows 8 and VMware workstation gives you the ability to switch between virtual machines almost instantly assuming your PC is man enough to run them all at the same time, if not then you will have to shut down and power up each one individually, but at least you wont have to do it from cold as before. You can full screen the VMware workstation virtual PC's so it feels as if you really are in that environment.

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Thanks. Well, not sure why this was closed as it was possible to give an answer. Not exactly the answer i hoped, but still an answer. –  r0k Jan 14 '13 at 9:38

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