That’s it, I’m switching!

Ubuntu logoIt’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

dual bootSetting 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.

Step three?

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.


  1. Maybe a Mac does fit all your OS-requirements too? It is also based on Unix, designers applications are available and everything just works…

    Comment by Annunaak — June 10, 2009 @ 3:30 pm

  2. I can’t afford a Mac right now (nor do I need a new computer), and even if I could I’d probably put Ubuntu on it. There are some rough edges to that OS, but the feeling of being part of a movement more than makes up for that. For me, the main reason for this switch is to move away from commercial OSs and their restrictive licenses. That and Ubuntu’s superior usability… 🙂

    Comment by Roy Tanck — June 10, 2009 @ 8:20 pm

  3. If you’re looking for something fun to play with I absolutely recommend the Windows 7 Release Candidate. It’s freely available to the public and is usable until June 2010. I’ve been using it a little more than a month for work, gaming, DJing, and blogging and I think it’s just masterful. The UI is so clean and highly usable. Many well-established Windows conventions have been rewritten or streamlined, making it very easy and logical to manage huge numbers of open apps.

    As a designer of user interfaces, Roy, I really think you will be interested to check it out whether you end up liking it or not. I loved Vista, however, so perhaps you should take my advice with a grain of salt, but Win7 is free to try so there’s nothing to lose, right?

    Comment by Brian — June 11, 2009 @ 9:39 pm

  4. Yeah, I’ve been thinking about giving 7 a spin. It’s a little faster than Vista apparently, so if it doesn’t run well in a virtual machine neither will its older brother. And I;d love to see what all the buzz is about.

    starting download as we speak…

    Comment by Roy — June 12, 2009 @ 9:57 am

  5. I’ve been running Ubuntu for over a year now. Also was in the “Only Adobe products keep me on Windows” slot.

    After switching, I discovered I could run WinXP under something like VMWare called “xVM VirtualBox” from Sun Microsystems. It’s free and I swear WInXP runs faster under VirtualBox than it does on a normal computer. I run Photoshop, Flash, etc under WinXP and everything else happens in Ubuntu. Sharing files between Ubuntu and WinXP happens over Samba, so it’s easy.

    After a year on Ubuntu I can honestly say Windows feels clunky, slow and unstable compared to Linux.

    Comment by Yeahright — June 16, 2009 @ 3:46 am

    • Hi Yeahright. Sounds like you using the exact setup I’m working towards. I’ve got Windows 7 running in Virtualbox right now, and it’s fun to see Windows humming along on one side of my Compiz Fusion desktop cube.

      That being said, Ubuntu itself has issues on my hardware. The driver for my wireless card sometimes causes complete freezes upon connecting the first time (I’ve had to use the reset button more than once), and my second monitor is almost useless (because is has a lower resolution and part of my bottom gnome bar gets lost if I activate ‘twinview’). I’ll have to resolve these issues before I can really start using Ubuntu full time.

      Comment by Roy — June 16, 2009 @ 11:19 am

  6. Hey there, you say you don’t have photoshop in linux? Well, that may be true, BUT linux has GIMP. GIMP is Gnu Image Manipulation Program. It is practically photoshop.. I invite you to read my blog about ubuntu linux, I’ve just started it. I have a posts called: Usefull Gimp tutorials. That can be helpfull to you, and about the second screen, tell me the problem with a reply to my mail ( and I’ll try to see if I can help you. First of all, I gotta know: do you have an nvidia graphic card? that can be really helpfull.. If you wanna make a link exchange (I’d be really pleased) please contact me via the contact page:


    Comment by AndroidTux — June 23, 2009 @ 9:58 pm

    • Hi AndroidTux. I know GIMP is being heralded as a Photoshop alternative, but I’m afraid it isn’t yet. Not for Photoshop professionals who need to work on other people’s PSD files or require some of the program’s advanced features. GIMP is halfway in terms of features imho and nowhere near Adobe’s offering in terms of usability and interoperability. Sad but true.

      And yeah, I have an nvidia card, but not a very fast one.

      Comment by Roy — June 24, 2009 @ 10:15 am

  7. I know what you mean. I have been looking for the opportunity to switch for years. Unfortunately like you, the software I use prevents a complete switchover. I agree about Adobe. Personally I would prefer some competition in that marketplace. Since Adobe swallowed up Macromedia I have noted much poorer customer service (I’ve been waiting for weeks for a refund but that’s another story). Anyway all we can do is keep hanging on eh? BTW that Cumulus plugin for WordPress is great it added so much to my blog. Just the touch I was looking for. Thanks for being creative!

    Comment by DJ Whatshisname — July 5, 2009 @ 5:04 pm

  8. Well, about the second screen, it doesn’t matter if it is fast or not (your nvidia graphic card) I’ll be soon telling you in my blog, how to do it. It’s quite easy as I read. good luck and bye.

    Comment by AndroidTux — July 7, 2009 @ 10:30 pm

  9. Have you tried running the adobe software under Wine? if you dont already have it just open up a console and type ‘sudo apt-get install wine’ and try that. It is pretty good software.

    Comment by Alix1 — July 8, 2009 @ 6:23 am

  10. yeah.. that’s true, I read that adobe flash (just for an example) runs fine under wine. Good luck!

    Comment by AndroidTux — July 8, 2009 @ 4:10 pm

  11. Right now, I am running a quad-boot machine, with XP, Windows 7, OS X, and Ubuntu Jaunty 9.04. Out of all of them, I have to say something I never thought I’d say:

    Ubuntu has become my clear favorite as of the last few releases.

    Even though it is still slightly rough around the edges, it’s just great regardless. You want it to have an interface like Windows? – you can do it for free and do it easily. You want it to have an interface like OS X? – simple, free & easy to do too. Best of all, you can invent your own special interface beyond what Windows or Apple offer, and it costs you nothing. It’s fast. It’s free. Its security is better than that of Windows OR OS X. You want stuff like QuickSilver in OS X – use the free GNOME do. The equivalent of the dashboard stuff can easily be had via the free Screenlets (and this is just one of multiple options). Ubuntu can easily do the exact same window organization trick of Expose, just as easily and smoothly. The free Compiz-Fusion can do 100’s of window/desktop effects such as Flip3d or a Cover Flow-esque presentation of open Windows like its nothing. The google apps all work great, including Picasa (which I personally like better than iPhoto). The CD & DVD burning options in K3B are extensive, the interface is the cleanest thing I’ve yet seen, and it’s beautifully easy to use…I’ve like it better than Toast or Nero. You want a chat client like Adium? – Pidgin is now its equal, if not better. There are tons of a/v players, from VLC to MPlayer, Totem, Banshee, Rhythmbox (both sync with mp3 players really well), and Songbird (most extensive mp3 suite I’ve yet seen). While Open Office is still not as good as MS Office, it’s good enough for most people. And by the way, if you are looking to just watch Hulu and the like, Ubuntu runs it better than OS X, and almost as good as Windows (other than a tv-out + full screen flash bug in the most recent adobe flash release (it wants to play it full screen on the monitor vs the tv)…fix coming soon, they say).

    There is little I need Windows or OS X for anymore, but I would say a few things are still better in each (app related, mostly): Gaming is still better than everything else in Windows. The audio system is still better in Windows & especially in OS X, so low-latency multi-track recording is best left to those realms at this point. OS X (Final Cut Pro) or Windows 7 (Vegas) for video editing still seems better than Cinelerra, but then again, it’s free and they are pricey. But this specialty stuff aside, Ubuntu really does do most of what an average person needs at this point, and it does it very well.

    Comment by Ian — July 16, 2009 @ 2:23 am

  12. Well, I am a 24/7 Ubuntu user for about one year. Since I have bought my laptop I almost never used Windows at all. What I was missing is Photoshop and Flash. Previously I could install Photoshop 5 and 7 on Crossover Professionals for Linux(Windows bottle emulator), which is commercial and doesn’t work for most windows softwares, but it easily lets your install IE6 just from the internet!

    Now, after upgrading my Wine in Ubuntu I am amazed to see I can install Even Photoshop CS4, Dreamweaver CS4, Flash 8 etc without any hassle at all. The virtualization doesn’t provide very good UI. But you can of course use Photoshop and Flash for emergency needs here. 🙂

    I dont use Dreamweaver for my production use though, I have switched to Netbeans PDT 7.0 it rocks!

    Hope you’d love to give Wined Photoshop and Flash a try! Enjoy!

    Comment by Lenin — July 22, 2009 @ 3:50 pm

  13. I really don’t know what all the fuss about linux, and especially Ubuntu is. Believe me, I’ve tried to like it but overall it feels like it has been put together by a bunch of college studens in their spare time – it probably has been to a certain extent, and not in a good way.

    The naming schemes of things in Mac OS and Linux are ridiculous, the interface in Linux is still a piece of relative garbage in comparison to even Mac OS, last time I checked they still couldn’t get installing software done right, there is no decent commercial software available for the platform, support is crap, using things like Photoshop as an “emergency” just shows how out to lunch you are and finally … it’s faster, but barely.

    It is all in your mind folks. Ubuntu is not better – the only thing better is that it is FREE, which I would even argue doesn’t make something better at all. Even the oh so “horrible” Vista (which is actually quite good) is worth it to buy.

    Unstable? Windows? On what, flaky PC’s with bad sticks of ram or half dead capacitors? Maybe Ubuntu has a higher tolerance to slight hardware errors – how good is that in reality anyhow? I’ve got news for you – I have a home built PC that has been running non-stop for 8 months, 4 days, and 10 hours continuously running Vista without a single crash. It is used as a media server in th ehouse, and doubles as a media center hooked up to the tv.

    Try doing that with your Ubuntu. I’d love to see you run a cool windows media server and have so little hassle even a 15 year old kid can set it up.

    Good luck with Ubuntu – personally, I feel you guys are just looking to hop on some sort of “cool” bandwagon.

    Comment by Cody — July 28, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

  14. Cody, are you talking serious? The “last time you saw” was about 15 years ago right? Man, installing software in ubuntu it’s just search and click. It handles download, install, install testing and all.

    And flaky PC? Come on! I don’t need an extra Gb or RAM to run anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti.this and anti-that. I need the apps I need to work and I need a few MB (in my case around 150) to eye candy. It’s not needed, I just want to.

    I’m a coder so I need photoshop to receive layouts ready done, cut them up and turn them into xHTML. And I do that frequently. Almost every day. The UI is not as pretty as in windows. But a virus free enviroment is worth it. And Vista is a piece of crap, sorry to be the messenger. Even Microsoft admit it. I don’t remember a SO by Microsoft that lasted so little. It was out and about 6 month there was a replacement on the media.

    I can imagine that you are grumbling and thinking I’m wrong. And that’s cool. If your setup works for you and gives you the enough money to buy the bread and bacon in the end of the month, Cool!

    But there are different opinions. And a LOT of people is switching. 😀 Think outside the box man. If you want comercial software, buy Adobe and run it over Wine. If you want to pay for support, Ubuntu provides that with top notch tech guys to help you out for a fee.

    Sorry about the english. Portuguese guy here 🙂 Think outside the box man

    Comment by zencoding — July 30, 2009 @ 10:59 am

  15. Well the “last time I saw” was actually about 3 years ago – and had a good laugh and have never had the urge to look back since.

    Perhaps the install method has been much improved, but I’m still guessing there is a mess involved with all the dependencies in the Linux environment.

    I don’t need an extra GB of ram to run anti-virus, or anti-spyware etc. either. As a matter of fact, I don’t run any anti-anything. I don’t need to – it’s called blocking cookies and using an allow list, as well I don’t download pirated software ever so I have absolutely no concern with viruses.

    I would go out on a limb and say that anyone who is actually decently computer-savvy would never see a need for anti-anything software – it is only required for beginners. Again, Vista is perfect – I have no idea why people are brainwashed that it is such crap. Ever heard of Mojave? Microsoft never said anything about it being crap. The only thing they ever admitted to was that the view of Vista and the general acceptance had failed.

    Nothign wrong with Vista whatsoever – I am a coder and designer too, which I am guessing most people on this site probably are (the WordPress/Cumulous plugin probably brought them here)

    Anyways, yes. Whatever makes you have and bring the bread and butter in – to each their own; but I know for a fact that NOT a lot of people are switching, and of those that do only a very small portiona actually can honestly say they see the benefit.

    Just my 2 cents =) I have no need to think outside the box so to speak, when doing so makes things more complicated. I for one, love my windows server and easy backup intengrated into Vista etc. and hey, if I am finished work for the day I can play a game of Company of Heroes without rebooting 😉

    Comment by Cody — August 5, 2009 @ 6:10 pm

  16. @Cody. You really should give it a try again. Recent versions of Ubuntu (they release a new one every 6 months) have become very user-friendly. Installing is positively easier than Windows. Once installed you get a very clean user interface. I love how (like on Macs) USB drives are mounted on the desktop. That’s how the desktop metaphor should be. A fresh install also has everything a ‘normal’ (non-designer, non-hardcore games) user needs. From an office suite to a bittorrent client, it’s all there.

    I’m not saying you should use Linux. If you’re happy with Vista, why would I try to talk you out of it. But please boot your Vista machine from an Ubuntu CD sometime and see how cool Linux has become. There’s some awesome work being done out there.

    Comment by Roy — August 6, 2009 @ 8:26 am

  17. I think your weblog is great because the post is bravo. Anyway, you could do a lot to make it better.

    Comment by LouProbiz — August 25, 2009 @ 9:20 am

  18. Aside from Ubuntu, there are some really good distributions that focus on graphics work. Ubuntu Studio is very popular, but two othersw are worth mention – Artistx and OpenArtist. OpenArtist is based on Ububtu 8.10 and has some awesome support for Blender, Gimp, and has some amazingly great drawing and illustration programs. A Java based version of Apophysis is included as well. Not only that, you should be able to get P’shop running under Wine in most distributions, which is the windows compatability layer that you can run from within Linux.

    Comment by Bill Olsen — August 27, 2009 @ 10:22 pm

  19. A simple way to install Ubuntu is by using Wubi (
    It install Ubuntu just like a windows application and can be you uninstall it through the Windows Control Panel.

    Wubi will install Ubuntu on a windows partition or on its own partition.
    Its as simple as picking a partition and picking a username/password. 2 steps and you on your way to enjoying Ubuntu.

    Comment by Marshall — October 14, 2009 @ 3:26 pm

  20. Link: Upgrading your Vista could severely limit Windows 7 | Roy Tanck's weblog
  21. ¨I’ll need Photoshop for that and there isn’t a viable Linux alternative for Flash either.¨ > I agree with
    AndroidTux. I´m a professional graphic designer and I´ve recently switched to Ubuntu. I have been using GIMP under Windows Vista for two years and it´s been great fun. In fact, GIMP was what gave me the idea of jumping platform.

    So far, the only two point where Photoshop ´beats´ GIMP is that is has layer folders and a built-in photomerge function. But GIMP is much MUCH MUCH MUCH MUUUUUCH more resource-efficient. You´ll never get ´scratch disks are full´ and a .psd file weighs at least twice as much a .xcf equivalent.

    But, alas! I have not found a viable alternative to flash either.

    Comment by Zotikos — November 27, 2009 @ 8:12 am

    • Zotikos, have you worked on/with Photoshop files from others? I get PSD files in the mail, made in CS4 and need to be able to open, edit and save these files. If GIMP does this without a single issue I’ll switch in a second. And have you looked at Pixel? Any thoughts?

      Comment by Roy — November 27, 2009 @ 3:13 pm

  22. Link: Upgrading your Vista could severely limit Windows 7 « Benson Cheng's Blog
  23. @Cody:

    Sorry to point this out, but you really seem to be a total n00b. (Yes, I know it’s considered swearing in certain circles. I’ve been an IT Consultant for over 25 years and believe me, Linux absolutely beats M$. For someone who seems to professes vast knowledge, you fail to point out that your Media Server (clue is in the name) is probably an OEM Windows Media Server, fully badged with a “works with Vista” sticker (though it won’t with XP, M$ refused to backport their Irda RC drivers for XP yet the same hardware works flawlessly on Ubu. The one put together by some “college students”) with all the necessary hardware drivers pre-installed. Grab a standard XP/Vista/7 installation disk, partition and format the drive, start your installation and see how far you get. lol. You’ll waste about 2 hours before the installer decides it can’t find the right drivers and hose your system. Even if it can, you’ll spend around a further 8 hours downloading MS Updates. Oh yeah, and your Anti-Virus software and it’s updates. But since an unpatched M$ PC can be infected within about 30 seconds it’s already a case of stable-doors and bolted horses.

    Or just Live-CD a linux distro. Or do a quick multi-boot install. Maybe about 3/4 hour for a fully spec’d up server.

    So you can’t suss out the *nix filesystems? RTFM, then. It’s not Windows it never was. And lots of the code M$ used and still uses came from Open Source originally anyway. So stop complaining because a succulent orange is not a black-eyed, worm-ridden potato. It was never meant to me.

    Oh, BTW, did you know that the original MS-DOS (then IBM PC-DOS) was programmed by some bloke called William Gates and a load of other contributors? None of the other got much credit, but ALL of them, including Mr Gates… were college students at the time.

    As for your Adobe whining, just emulate Windows within Linux or multi-boot.

    Tell you what mate: YOU develop an OS that’ll run efficiently and securely on just about ANY combination of various hardware and I’ll take you seriously. In the mean time, just keep trolling for flames while the rest of us sit back, point and laugh at you and then back to doing some productive work.

    *Pats little boy on head, sits back, points and laughs with everyone else with a clue*

    Comment by eVAPor8 — October 24, 2010 @ 4:14 pm