How-To Geek

Ask the Readers: Do You Have Virtual Operating Systems Set Up on Your Computer?


Virtualization software is a terrific way to try out new operating systems or test questionable software without harming your main operating system. This week we would like to know if you have set up any virtual operating systems on your computers.


Photo by tuxmentat.

The ability to install and run virtual operating systems on a computer can be very beneficial to you whether it is work-related or for personal use. To start off suppose you are very comfortable with Windows, but really want to try a Linux system out. You could use a separate computer, partition your hard-drive, totally wipe out your Windows installation, or go to the trouble of adding an additional hard-drive to your computer. Depending on your particular situation all of those options are likely to be a bit of hassle…you want the experience to be positive, not stressful. That is the beauty of virtualization software.

Once that shiny new operating system is set up in a virtual environment, you can start having fun with it. If you are just learning a new system and make a mistake, it is not hard to roll it back to a previously saved image/restoration point or to set it up all over again. Maybe you want to try some new software, but you are not certain how well it will really work (or it may be from a questionable source). If everything goes well then congratulations are in order for a successful test, but if something went wrong it is not so bad after all. Virtualization software makes it a lot easier to keep the potential damage to a minimum (along with your stress levels!).

Perhaps your work requires the use of multiple operating systems…one for general purpose use and communication with another set up as a programming environment or for legacy software. Once again it is extremely convenient since you can actively switch back and forth between systems on the same computer without a multi-boot setup. Chances are if you have had an opportunity to use virtualization software, then you really appreciate having it at your disposal.

This week we would like to know if you have virtual operating systems set up on your computer. Do you only have one or multiple systems set up? Are those virtual systems for work or personal use? If you do have virtual operating systems set up, do you use them often or only occasionally? Is there a particular virtualization software that you would highly recommend to other people? Perhaps there is one that you warn people to stay away from… Let us know in the comments!

[polldaddy poll=”4414197″]

Akemi Iwaya is a devoted Mozilla Firefox user who enjoys working with multiple browsers and occasionally dabbling with Linux. She also loves reading fantasy and sci-fi stories as well as playing "old school" role-playing games. You can visit her on Twitter and .

  • Published 01/19/11

Comments (51)

  1. moody

    Sweet first one to vote.

  2. Asian Angel

    I use VMware Player and have Ubuntu 10.10, Ubuntu 10.04, and Windows 7 set up in it. ^_^ It is a mix of personal fun and work with my virtual systems…

    Virtualization software is literally the perfect way for me to try out all kinds of new Linux distros in addition to the stable systems I maintain. ^_^ I also remember how simple it was to start again when I have had Windows systems totally flake out in the past. Lense and cleanse! ~_^

  3. Hatryst

    Using VMWare, and 2 operating systems. Ubuntu 10.10, and Mac OS X Snow Leopard :)

  4. Ryan

    I originally had just ubunutu installed on my computer and used a virtual box to run xp to sync my ipod, but in the end I need to use DAWs on windows so I dual booted and have now no need for a virtual box.

  5. Hatryst
  6. Max

    I have Vmware and testing win2003 and Ubuntu 10.4

  7. Andrew Ensley

    VirtualBox is my choice for virtualization software. I have several virtual machines setup on several physical machines with it. FOSS FTW!

  8. Duckbrain

    I have a triple boot with Windows, Ubuntu, and Puppy Linux. I have VirtualBox installed in Windows and Ubuntu with various operating systems I want to play with, like WebOS, Android, Arch Linux, *ubuntu 10.10, Chrome OS and more. I have the VHD’s shared on the Windows partition to save disk space.

    I love to test out operating systems on Virtual Machines and also on Flash Drives.

  9. jon_hill987

    Just the one at the moment, DOSBox. I have used others in times of need though.

  10. Tyler

    Windows 7 as my host system, and use Windows XP and Ubuntu as virtual machines. I’ve installed a load of useful applications in XP, and then I can install extra programs, or run potentially virus ridden files, and then just revert back to an old version.

  11. Carlos

    JoliCloud 1.1 Ubuntu Mint Julia, Windows 7 and Windows XP on my Mac. :)

  12. Ken

    I use Windows Virtual PC for those few legacy apps that don’t run in Win7 64-bit plus as a way to keep IE8 handy since I upgraded my Win7 to IE9 but have two important sites that aren’t compatible.
    And I run VMWare with Ubuntu 10.10 for fun and to have access to a couple of handy apps available only for Linux.

  13. Altyer Otoni

    Using VMware on Windows 7, I have Win2k, WinXP, Ubuntu 10.10 and Kurumin NG, a brazilian linux distro.
    I also want a MAC OS, but still could not.

  14. Kevin

    For the folks running Virtual Box – Are you in the US or Europe? I’ve been told the European market has a higher chance for Virtual Box. I love both platforms but I think Virtual Box gives you more play over Vmware Player.

  15. g..

    VirtualBox in Europe here.
    For private use I have Win7 (for Office) and Linux Sabayon (to try out) as guests on Kubuntu.
    At work, I’m forced to use WinXP, so I virtualize Kubuntu on VirtualBox. But this might change to VMWare soonish as the company IT policy will force me so…


  16. Chronno S. Trigger

    I’ve been using VMware player to virtualize XP for a while now due to compatibility issues with Windows 7 and XP mode. I also have one for Server 2003 and two for Server 2008 for program testing, but they don’t really count. I only use the XP one commonly.

  17. Jon

    I run VirtualBox on three physical machines, with Win-7, Win-Vista, and Linux-Fedora as the hosts. Win-XP, Win-7 and Linux-Mint as the guests. I use the virtual machines to test new software, and as a convenient means to keep a clean/uncluttered machine for creating portable apps with ThinApps. I find the snapshot feature of VirtualBox particularly useful.

  18. MrPnP

    I use VMware Workstation and install OS’s like candy. Right now I have the latest Ubuntu, MintLinux. OpenSUSE, Debian, Win7, MacOSX, and Mandriva. I do it only for fun. I strain, twist and torture each installation until it crashes and dies. I then laugh and throw it in the trash and power up another. This is very relaxing.

  19. Merlin

    On my workcomputer I have Win7 as base OS with some XP’s and Ubuntu as VM’s in VMware.
    I use the VM’s to try apps and to create VM’s for use in PC-class (see below).
    I also have VMLite for running XP apps, which don’t properly run in Win7 directly, in seamless mode.

    At work we also have a computer class where we use Win7 as base OS and run the courses in VMware. Courses handle Windows (XP) with apps, Windows server 2008 and Ubuntu desktop and server.

  20. JohnRobertM

    We use VMware on our server to run XP Pro as our “App Server”.

  21. George

    I keep a virtual of ALL Microsoft OSs (except for Bob and Me) and one for each Ubuntu version, one desktop and one server. I also use clones for all of my systems so I can test updates to see if they break my current implementations. I like to keep up on the old stuff because as a tech, I eventually come across that guy who started up Windows 95 and never shut it down. Plus there are rare occasions that I’ll come across a pre-Office file and needs to be opened and I can’t think of anything better than using a virtual for it. I use Virtualbox 4.0 and I love it.

  22. Akshay Bilolikar

    I prefer to double boot for my Windows needs.

  23. ProtoSphere

    I have Mac OS X 10.6 as my host with Ubuntu 10.10 and Windows XP running in VirtualBox, both for development purposes.

  24. Big Dan

    I use Virtual Box for everything. One Windows 7 host with Ubuntu 10.10, XP, and Ubuntu 11.04 of as guests. My netbook is a Ubuntu host with XP as a guest.

  25. Rahul Sethi

    I use vmware workstation for hosting guests on windows n while in linux in my dual boot setup i use vmware player for hosting the virtual os ..use it primarily for testing new os that dont come up with a live cd ..

  26. Matthew Guay

    I’m not sure how I’d live without at least 4 virtual machines … including my newest hackintosh one ;)

  27. guitardedhero

    I run many virtual os’s on my ubuntu 10.10 host. I like VMPlayer the best as it supports aero in Windows, whereas you’re stuck with basic visualization in VirtualBox. Both can run 64 bit guests. I currently have several linux distros, including remastersys backups; Windows 7; and a Hackintosh that I don’t even use, just to see if it would work mostly. I will not put windows on a partition so this is ideal for me, having good specs helps too, I give Windows 7 (I rely on iTunes being an iPhone user atm) 3gb of ram leaving 5gb for the host os and it runs perfectly fine and since I use it for iTunes only, the Windows os always stays pristine lol!!

  28. Gouthaman Karunakaran

    I have two Virtual Machines installed. Ubuntu 10.10 and Windows XP Professional. My Stable system is Windows 7 Ultimate.

  29. Ja5087

    Virtualbox with loads in it!

  30. grigore

    I have 2 OS’s on my laptop Windows XP and Ubuntu but i also use virtual box with these OS’s: Windows Server 2003 (don’t ask :P) Windows XP – for checking dubious settings/software and one for React OS – you should google this one it’s an interesting os. On my server i have also XP installed and use Virtual box for XP -file server and ReactOS again for testing pourposes. I think that virtual os’s are the best thing that ever happened to me. And if something goes wrong i have snapshots i can rollback to.

  31. Win

    I like Virtual Box . I always check the new OSes by installing in VB first.

  32. Icekhaos

    Anyone here got forty systems like me?

  33. tz3

    In Germany, where I live, several government agencies offer free closed source Windows downloads, for example to fill in your taxes. I have thus a government only virtual machine PC that I only use to install and use software from such dubious sources :).

  34. George

    I run VMware Player on my Ubuntu 10.10 notebook with VMs of Fedora 14 and Windows XP3. At work I run Linux Mint 10 with Virtualbox with a Windows XP VM to support the client.

  35. vmnutcase

    Win7 64-bit with latest VMware Workstation. VMs: Win7 (both 32 and 64), Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2003, WinXP, Ubuntu64, Ubuntu Server, openSUSE, Astaro gateway, Smoothwall. Couldn’t live without it :-)

  36. Hayden

    I run many different flavors of Linux and things on my VirtualBox.
    The list includes:

    Puppy Linux
    Arch Linux

    And XP if I can find the disk…

  37. Don

    I run windows (all versions), linux, and yes even esx in VM workstation. I have even tested a virtual inside a virtual.

  38. jeepmanjr

    Run VMWare under Win7 – have a couple of Linux distros. While I think Linux runs smoother and has less issues when run as a dual-boot with Window$, a virtual machine offers a more important advantage to me: It’s easier to delete a directory than an entire hard drive!! :-)

  39. Jack

    I currently run old hardware (cost issue) and this hardware doesn’t support a totally open source virtualization easily (at least under ubuntu as a ‘standard app’ kind of a thing).

  40. Paultx

    Does Sandboxie count as virtualization software?

  41. Jon

    I voted “Other” because it is always random. I do have a Windows XP VM for testing certain apps out but will run various Linux distros in VM as well to test them out and see where Linux has progressed.

  42. Samuel

    I have all kinds of VMs they are great!
    I use virtualbox it’s my choice

  43. John Burman

    I am with Paultx I think sandboxie is something other than a true virtual, I am one of the 15 people who clicked other in the survey. I dont use it for OS, just as the principle web browser for my personal surfs.I just about live in stumble upon, gaming is not my thing, techy I am not, just a browsing voyer, (how do you spell voyer?) Here is a thought, a cheap whiteboard using a laser pointer and part of an old gaming system was displayed on the web two years ago, does anyone remember it? I wanted to put one together, but I dont remember the “recipe”. It used nothing more than a laptop, a laser pointer, and a sheet, and some kind of light sensor from a game console, but that is the part I can’t remember.

  44. Chaos

    I use last virtualbox (Win7 in VM and Ubuntu as Home)

  45. Victor

    i have Virtualbox setup with WIndows Server 2008, along with ubuntu 10.10, vista, xp, and windows 7. :) using all of them for my MCTS trainings

  46. David

    I use VMWare player, and Sun’s Java box. I have Win XP, Android 2.2, Slax, Unbuntu 10.04

  47. ThrDude

    I use Vbox and i have win xp and ubuntu. I use xp for testing if the programs I create can work on other oses

  48. CrunchyChewie

    At my home lab I have an ESXi server with the following VM’s:

    1. Server 2008 R2 x64 (PDC/AD)
    2. Linux Mint 9 (Seedbox)
    3. Ubuntu Server 10.04 (Rsync/SSH)
    4. Server 2003 R2 x64 (Phasing out for a 2nd 08 box in cluster mode)
    5. Windows XP (Testing)

    My desktop also has Virtualbox and VMWare Workstation with different Ubuntu VM’s for web development and testing. Same for my work box.

  49. James

    I have Parallels and VMware for Mac. I also have VM Workstation for my Windows gaming rig.

    3 Windows 7 VM (each authentic)
    1 Chrome OS VM
    1 Ubuntu VM

    VM Ware (Mac)
    1 Windows 7 VM

    VM Ware Workstation
    1 Windows 7 VM

  50. -Pablo-

    I used to have several more (and test as many distros as I could get hold of) but now only run OpenSuSE and Ubuntu virtualized with VirtualBox under Windows 7. I plan on switching soon to run Arch Linux as my main OS (which I have been trying on another rig) and run there Windows virtulized.

  51. Fujii

    We have a 3-PC-Homenetwork all run Windows 7 but my mother likes the KDE-Cardgames and Blockout (some 3d tetris…was kind of cool in the old dos ages ^^) so she’s running Fedora on vbox. I have XP on vBox. It’s just for infected stuff and testing, I wanted to use it more as an emergency OS so i have a fully configured (not infected) copy on my USB-Disc that i can put into the next working PC to surf on the web create a pdf or write something….and so on, kind of a cdbootable linux alternative ^^’… well, it works for me.

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