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I want to code some simple personal projects on the Unix-like partition while doing everything else on my XP partition.

Can someone recommend the solution that takes up the smallest footprint in size and processing power that still delivers value? I want to learn how to code in a Unix environment.

I'm trying Cygwin but my first impression is its a bit clumsy. Would a dual boot with BeOS be better? And how would I do it?


EDIT: I need to be able to run both OS'es at the same time. This is very important for me. However, my laptop is pretty crappy and that's why I ask for something that has a low CPU/RAM footprint.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

You have 2 options to get the feel of a "real" distribution

  1. Install Unix/Linux on a separate partition. Most distributions nowadays are smart enough to create the necessary entries in the partition table for you to dual boot.

  2. Use the new OS as a Virtual Machine image. You can use Sun Virtuabox for this. This way the whole guest OS will be sitting inside a virtual machine and you are free from the headache of dual booting , partitions etc. The speed may be a issue but thats OK i guess as a tradeoff.

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I have tried VirtualBox and it's very slow on my computer. I'd like to be able to have a completely separate OS that can run at the same time as XP and at a good speed. Does anything like that exist? – volni Jan 20 '10 at 18:11
"completely separate OS that can run at the same time as XP" - This is what Virtual machines are supposed to do :) If speed is an issue i suggest you go with my 1st option i.e. reinstall the OS on a new partition. – LatishS Jan 20 '10 at 18:18
Would I be able to run both OS's at the same time? – volni Jan 20 '10 at 18:40
Well, no, not without a virtual machine. You'd have to shutdown one and boot into the other if you wanted to switch. – Nathaniel Jan 20 '10 at 18:42
So Windows XP doesn't have anything like the Mac bootcamp? How about Win7? – volni Jan 20 '10 at 18:46

Depending what you are doing how about using a something like this? There are a few people who let you have access to their own machine try Googling something like "free shell access".

Once you have an account log in with Putty.

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I think THIS is the best deal! +1 for an anti-headache solution – dag729 Jan 20 '10 at 20:21

You can try Wubi, Windows Services for Unix 3.5, or re-try VirtualBox with a lighter-weight Linux distro, such as Arch Linux.

If none of these (or the other mentioned) options work for you, you'll likely need to upgrade your laptop. If you do, make sure that you get a processor that supports hardware virtualization.

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