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I got a new laptop that has "secure boot" which seems to only allow my to install the latest versions of Linux. However, I have an older version of Linux with Gnome 2 on my desktop that I far prefer.

Can I run this old version of Linux within my new Linux? And if so, how can I tell if my hardware will support it?

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Yes, you can do this.

You have not specified the version of Linux you are using but if it is CentOS6 (or Redhat or Fedora etc), KVM is possibly your best bet. [ Same probably applies for other Distros but Redhat has thrown its weight behind KVM, and KVM does deliver ].

In order to support virtualization you need a 64 bit version of Linux running on it run the command

egrep '(vmx|svm)' --color=always /proc/cpuinfo

If it finds one of these, it means your hardware is capable of running KVM. (You may need to enable Virtualization Support in your BIOS). Once you are running KVM you can run pretty much any version of Linux you like - you may even be able to run Windows - but I've never tried that.

Before going to all that work though, are you sure you can't simply disable "secure boot" in the bios - I was under the impression that this was standard practice.

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You can use VirtualBox for Linux . As stated on VirtualBox website:

In order to run VirtualBox on your machine, you need:

  • Reasonably powerful x86 hardware. Any recent Intel or AMD processor should do.
  • Memory. Depending on what guest operating systems you want to run, you will need at least 512 MB of RAM (but probably more, and the more the better). Basically, you will need whatever your host operating system needs to run comfortably, plus the amount that the guest operating system needs. So, if you want to run Windows XP on Windows XP, you probably won't enjoy the experience much with less than 1 GB of RAM. If you want to try out Windows Vista in a guest, it will refuse to install if it is given less than 512 MB RAM, so you'll need that for the guest alone, plus the memory your operating system normally needs.
  • Hard disk space. While VirtualBox itself is very lean (a typical installation will only need about 30 MB of hard disk space), the virtual machines will require fairly huge files on disk to represent their own hard disk storage. So, to install Windows XP, for example, you will need a file that will easily grow to several GB in size.
  • A supported host operating system. Presently, we support Windows (XP and later), many Linux distributions, Mac OS X, Solaris and OpenSolaris.
  • A supported guest operating system. Besides the user manual (see below), up-to-date information is available at "Status: Guest OSes".
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If your main issue is the possibility to run a GNOME2 desktop within a distribution supporting "secure boot" I would avoid virtualization; I would suggest to try a distro with MATE, a desktop environment forked from the now-unmaintained code base of GNOME 2. Mint Linux and Fedora include MATE in their official repositories.

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