I'm learning linux (programming and working on shells) and would like to know of a good method to work on Windows and Linux simultaneously since I need to use both, windows for reading the tutorials and linux to get hands on practice.
I earlier used Knoppix distribution (booting from CD, no installation required) of linux but that meant that I needed to reboot to windows to refer to any source material.
Is there a method to use linux while running windows ?
I'm using Windows 7 RC.

  • 4
    Why would you need Windows to read tutorials? You know that there are browsers and pdf readers on Linux?
    – innaM
    Commented Dec 7, 2009 at 9:53
  • I'm not sure how to configure network connections on linux, as I said I'm not very familiar with linux.
    – Ankur
    Commented Dec 7, 2009 at 13:46
  • The best way to familiarize yourself is simply by installing it and then make it work. A good distribution will work right of the box and to read the documentation, you don't even have to have a network connection.
    – innaM
    Commented Dec 7, 2009 at 15:06

5 Answers 5


If you're just working in a shell, I would recommend cygwin. It's a linux shell emulator for windows that should serve you well.

  • I just need to use linux to write code, use gcc gdb vi etc and run some basic linux commands. Would cygwin do the job?
    – Ankur
    Commented Dec 7, 2009 at 6:02
  • 1
    Yeah, if you don't need any fancy gui applications, cygwin should be good. It's pretty small and fast, but when you run the setup.exe, you'll have to choose which packages you want installed, as only the minimum base comes installed by default.
    – Wilduck
    Commented Dec 7, 2009 at 6:36
  • 1
    Cygwin also provides a GUI framework, with both win32 and X. The Cygwin TK integrates with Windows so you can have 'native' windows scripts via tcl/tk or perl/tk. There are some gotchas with regards to some of the low level posix compliance and file system. Commented Dec 7, 2009 at 7:26
  • 4
    Cygwin doesn't beat a real installation of Linux running in a virtual machine, IMO. Commented Dec 7, 2009 at 8:17
  • It does in performance.
    – Phoshi
    Commented Dec 7, 2009 at 12:39

It's very simple to run Linux over Windows with VirtualBox. See this tutorial on installing Ubuntu over Windows XP (7 should be similar) with VirtualBox. It worked great for me, installing Ubuntu 9.10 just over the last weekend. Everything works great so far.


I find running Linux in Windows to be substantially slower than running Windows in Linux. Plus having Linux as your main is awesome. The only one caveat is no good DirectX support in VirtualBox. It's not just that, but understandably OpenGL games run a bit slower in the VM. Unless you play a lot of Windows game's it's wonderful. You also have WINE as backup.


I'd second eliben. Apart from Virtualbox, VMware Player also works well.

  • I actually started with VMWare player - but recently it asks you to register and other types of license crap (although still free). VirtualBox doesn't have any of this - it's open source! Commented Dec 7, 2009 at 5:58

You may want to try Topologilinux, which is a fully functional customized Slackware, developed specifically to be run under Windows.

It can be run both "from Windows" - including graphical desktop environments via VNC, if you need that - and also on its own, without booting into Windows (this is chosen at boot time, using standard Window's boot.ini menu entry).

Despite being able to boot straight into Topologilinux, it does not require a separate partition - it runs from a single file on your Windows disk. Thus, uninstallation is also very simple and easy.

I'm on Debian now, but my Topologilinux experience was truly excellent.

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