It’s funny how I just discovered a great feature in Vista by reading up on how to install Ubuntu alongside it. I didn’t know Vista could shrink partitions without the need for 3rd party tools. Well it can and I did. To make room for Ubuntu. I plan to move away from Windows for anything but design work. I’ll need Photoshop for that and there isn’t a viable Linux alternative for Flash either. But other than that I can’t wait to switch to Linux full time.
Step one: Dual boot
Setting up a dual boot situation with Vista and Ubuntu is quite easy. This tutorial guides you through the process. This is similar to using Bootcamp (the page for which currently seems to be missing from Apple’s website) on a Mac, and allows you to either use Windows or Linux at any time by choosing which OS to boot at startup. This keep your Vista install intact, but it’s far from ideal. I’d have to reboot my PC every time I need to use Windows-only software, even if only for five minutes.
Step two: Virtualizing Vista under Ubuntu
This is what I’m really after. I’d really like to run Vista inside Linux, and the reason I’m setting up a dual boot scenario is to test whether this works. I’ve seen XP run quite smoothly on a coworker’s Macbook Pro using Parallels a couple of years ago, and the speed was great. If the same is true for Vista on my somewhat faster machine, I’ll be getting rid of my current Vista install and have my PC boot straight into Ubuntu every morning. That would be great.
One potential issue I’ve come across is OS licensing. It seems I’m not allowed to run my copy of Vista Home Premium OEM on a virtual machine. Even if it is on the same hardware the OEM copy is attached to. I’ll contact Microsoft about this, but it seems I’ll have to get (and pay retail for) a different version in order to be allowed to do this. Don’t you just love commercial software licenses? I might decide to wait for Windows 7 and upgrade to the correct version when that becomes available. Seems silly to buy Vista now that 7 has been confirmed for a October 22nd release.
There’s only one reason for me to not ditch Vista completely right now: Adobe software. If they’d release Linux versions of their applications there wouldn’t be any reason for me to keep using Windows. Unfortunately, there’s no indication that Adobe is working on such a move. Even though Linux’s phenomenal stability would make it ideal for use on graphics workstations, the only Adobe software available for Linux seems to be Flash Player and AIR. Too bad.