Thursday, October 22, 2009

Windows in a Virtual Machine

My Windows XP SP3 CD came in the mail yesterday. This time around I did a more-or-less default install in VirtualBox with 20GB expanding drive, 1.2GB memory, 24M video memory, and audio disabled. Instead of Symantec Antivirus, I tried ESET NOD32. I also disabled Adobe Drive this time because I got some weird messages. The install and all setup took about 8 hours, much of which was waiting, which is much more reasonable than the 3 days my previous attempt took.

The new image uses only about 6GB of disk space instead of 15, presumably because it doesn't contain any junk from my old hard drive. It is immeasurably faster than my 140GB image of my previous hard drive, half-of which was unreadable. Not sure how much was VM settings, Symantec, or other junk, but I think everything helped.

I deleted the old virtual hard drive image. It took hours because I had a dozen huge "snapshots" I had taken in VirtualBox, each of which took 1-20 minutes to delete. Before I started, my new 1TB drive was 60% full. Now it's only 7% full! What a disaster that was.

I currently use Windows in VirtualBox a few times a week for the following, but I work mostly in Linux:

Photoshop CS4
I use this a lot and it requires 1024x768 resolution for some of the dialogs to work properly (to show the Save button). Takes a lot of resources, but as much as I love GIMP, it's not a substitute for Photoshop for professional work.

A couple of proprietary VPNs
The nice thing about running these in a virtual machine is that it lets me check email and access the web from my primary OS while the VPN is connected.

Citrix GoToMeeting
Works great

Remote Desktop Connection
Necessary for work.

Internet Explorer
Necessary for work (for testing)

Microsoft Office
Open Office is a fantastic substitute. It changes the layout only slightly I think because the available fonts are different on Linux. I still need the real thing for presentations and testing for work.

Firefox HTML Validator plug-in
I really wish there was a Linux version of this!

Hopefully, over time, things like GoToMeeting and the Firefox HTML Validator will work on Linux. I'm still looking for a secure backup strategy for my entire drive.

1 comment:

Peter said...

Interesting. Thank you once again for sharing. I long for the day when IE is not the dominant browser, and is no longer "Necessary for work (for testing).