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David Chandler's Journal of Java Web and Mobile Development

  • David M. Chandler


    Web app developer since 1994 and former Developer Advocate with Google now residing in Colorado. Besides tech, I enjoy landscape photography and share my work at ColoradoPhoto.gallery.

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Run Linux and Windows together without dual booting

Posted by David Chandler on October 24, 2009

Welcome to “the Saturday evening post.” This will be a more-or-less weekly PC tech post in addition to my daily Java-related postings throughout the week.

There are two programs I can’t live without under Linux: Quicken, which I first installed on 3.5 inch floppies and has run my financial life ever since, and RoboForm, which manages nearly 100 mostly-generated passwords for me. As much as I would like to run Ubuntu and OpenOffice exclusively, I am unwilling to dedicate another PC to the task or to be constantly rebooting.

I was therefore delighted to find that you can run Ubuntu right within Windows as a virtual machine using the free VMware Player. Here are the steps to install Ubuntu on a clean virtual machine.

  1. Download and install VMware Player
  2. Download the Ubuntu ISO image
  3. Go to easyvmx.com and fill in the blanks to create your virtual machine definition file. Check the LiveCD ISO-image box and enter the path to the downloaded ISO file. When you run VMware Player for the first time, it will boot from the ISO image just as if you had put the CD in the drive, allowing you to run or install Ubuntu in the virtual machine.

That’s all there is to it. Granted, with this approach, you still have to deal with Windows, but being able to switch back and forth between operating systems with Alt+Tab sure is handy.

A very cool thing about virtual machines is that all the data for the VM exists in a few files under your VMX directory. Which means you can copy the VMX files to a portable hard drive, plug it into any computer with VMware Player installed, and voila, you’re right where you left off. That is one painless backup strategy.

Theoretically, you can also run the other way around, by the way, and install Windows in a virtual machine running under VMware Player for Linux. However, I have not tried this.

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