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I have tried searching the web, but all I find are people dual booting OSes on the same computer and wanting to share VMs across the different OSes.

What I have is a desktop (core i7 IvyBridge,16 GB ram, 4 cores 8 threads) and a laptop (core i5 SandyBridge, 8GB RAM, 2 cores 4 threads) and I want to share the same VM (say, Ubuntu 12.10) across both, stored on an external USB drive.

What are the caveats? What should I look out for? Can I change number of CPUs & RAM on the fly? (2 cores/ 2GB each if on my laptop, 4 cores/4GB if on my desktop)

Has anyone tried it? Can someone give me advise on how to proceed?

For what it is worth, I plan on using VirtualBox. In theory, I could just have 2 virtual machines, one on my laptop and one on my desktop on the USB drive, but I don't want to repeatedly do updates and developer environment setups on both.

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It should be no problem whatsoever. You can modify all of those things on the fly. Set the CPU and RAM as you choose on one machine, switch over to the other and modify as you so choose to suit that machine. The only potential problem I could foresee would be permissions, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume both of your machines have full access to the VM space. – Uninspired Mar 20 '13 at 3:39
up vote 1 down vote accepted

You could do a few things.

  1. You could host one VM, and RDP / VNC into it
  2. You could build a VM, and then just copy the VM to the laptop
  3. You could run it off a share
  4. You could install it to your USB device and run it from there
  5. You can install your 2 VMs, and then map a share for any files you need on both machines

I would personally go with 1. But in order of personal preference: 1, 2 + 5, 3, 4

I see 2 and 5 being complimentary, so I grouped them as one option for "IF I did it"

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Thanks for your response, but I am not quite sure you understood my question. Your points 2 and 5 are precisely what I do not want to do, as I want to use a single VM. What I want is indeed option 4, and I don't quite understand what you mean by option 3. Option 1 on the other hand, seems doable. Always have the VM on the laptop (with the underlying laptop hardware) and VNC/SSH from the desktop .. except that I feel when I am at home, I would rather 'donate' some of the desktop's power to the VM ... but still. Thanks! – Hari Sundararajan Mar 20 '13 at 3:32
4 Is 100% possible, but it will be the slowest because of through put, unless you have USB 3 and real good drive. – AthomSfere Mar 20 '13 at 11:25

Only a partial answer is in my domain of knowledge. (My knowledge relates to KVM, I assume virtualbox is similar, but could be wrong. I reckon a partial answer is better then know answer though !).

In KVM - * You can change number of CPU's and amount of RAM, but not on the fly. You will need to restart for the changes to come into effect.

  • As the machine is fully virtualised (both KVM and Virtualbox I believe), you should be able to move from 1 piece of hardware to the other, as long as you are not using any passthrough drivers - ie all the interfaces with hardware are virtualized/abstracted.

Best of luck, and let us know how you get on !!!

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