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I want to provide an environment where users are free to install and break whatever on their accounts without disrupting the experience of other users on the computer. Since it's in a home environment, I have users that install all manner of software haphazardly on whatever whims they have (guests, sister). Yet my parents mainly use it for browsing and documents without installing software. Because neither user type has a lot of performance requirements, I figure virtualization could be a good solution.

I've done a bit of research, and I've tried solutions that sandbox or restrict the users from making changes to the PC, but those are a bit too strict. Ideally I would like for each user to be able to log in directly to a virtual machine and keep the host invisible (and untouchable) from them. So basically a host and guest VMs for each user.

Are there any solutions that fit these requirements and would be affordable and applicable for home use?

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With Virtualbox, you could have multiple virtual machines of Windows, one for each user that you want to isolate.
When they login to the host machine, you could auto start the Guest VM with VirtualBox --startvm vm_name --fullscreen which would start it in full screen mode.

It wouldn't satisfy the "untouchable host OS" as they could still shutdown the virtual machine and access the host machine, but on login, it would seem like they're in they're own machine until they shut the virtual machine down

  • Would it be more practical to run a linux host, where maybe I could have a heavily restricted user account. Then run the guest OS Windows from there? I want to cut down as much as possible on licensing and cost, seeing as it is only for 1-4 users. – Kross Jul 25 '14 at 16:32
  • Linux host would work just as well as a Windows host. If the users don't have any specific Windows applications that they require, it may even be feasible to have the users as normal linux users. – Lawrence Jul 26 '14 at 8:47

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