In Windows 7 if you have a multi-core processor you can run virtual machines. There is something called XP mode which lets you do a full XP install and lets you run XP just like the real thing, without having to dual boot or exit Windows 7. I think that when XP is running it gets to have a separate CPU core all to itself. It works just like a normal XP installation.

Can a similar thing be done with Linux?


You can run Linux using other virtualization software (like VMware), but you can't use XP mode in Windows 7 for Linux.


It's just virtualisation. You don't need multiple CPUs/cores and a single core is not assigned to each Virtual Machine; the host machine shares its resources with any VMs running at the same time.

Virtual XP Mode is just XP running in an integrated desktop-sharing version of Microsoft's existing virtualisation application Virtual PC. You can certainly run Linux in Virtual PC, though Microsoft doesn't officially support it and it's not as easy to install the ‘guest extensions’ that allow seamless desktop sharing (like in Virtual XP Mode), easy file sharing and faster graphics operations.

You might prefer VirtualBox (open source) or VMware (commercial, but free versions also available), which are essentially the same thing as Virtual PC but do explicitly support Linux. Either way, launching virtualised applications won't be quite as slickly integrated with the host OS as Virtual XP Mode, but it's still very usable.


A similar thing as in running one OS inside another? Check out VirtualBox.


In addition to the Virtual-Machine solutions mentioned above, there are also several projects being developed to have Linux running natively inside Windows.

Here are a few links:

  • CoLinux: the Linux kernel which runs alongside the Windows OS (Windows 7 included)
  • andLinux: a compiled Ubuntu distro which uses CoLinux
  • Portable Ubuntu: very useful for running off a flash-drive

Sure, it's called virtualization and there's a lot of software to do that: VMware, and Virtualbox are popular ones.


Don't bother with XP Mode, you don't want it's diskspace wastage on your system and it's only necessary for those really incompatible POS programs that won't run under Windows 7 32 bit support. What you are interested in is Microsoft Virtual PC only, no XP mode.

Windows 7 will run Microsoft Virtual PC instances of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS quite well. You do have to do a little tweaking of the parameter line to get it to load with the following grub parameter line vga=791 noreplace-paravirt so Linux doesn't crash. There's also another mouse tweak needed to get the scroll button to work i8042.noloop psmouse.proto=imps added to the above takes care of that. Don't expect sound on Ubuntu 10+ as they quit supporting ISA drivers and the Virtual PC emulates SoundBlaster 16.

Here's one of many threads on how to do this.

I have been running a Virtual PC instance of Ubuntu since 8.04 LTS for use in website development so I can use my Windows tools and yet run the website on its native OS. Helps quite a bit at making sure you don't have WAMP and MAMP glitches where the site WAS running fine, but crashes when you go live.

You can also load virtual DOS machines or Windows 98SE machines (extracting files from old backups), etc.

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