This weekend, on a tip from CDT Doug, I decided to play around with VirtualBox, because there's still a few things I can't do in Linux. I've tried VMware in the past, but the last time I found NAT networking to be a pain to set up. By contrast, VirtualBox is great for drivers and hardware, but getting file sharing to work took some effort. Just make sure you install the VirtualBox Guest Additions into your guest OS, and you'll have video, sound, usb, networking, and sharing.
So, what prompted this? Well...
- I can load pages in IE6 or IE7, thanks to WINE and great work of the IESs 4 Linux project... but support for IE7 is still beta, and it's a little slow.
- I can run Picasa, also thanks to WINE. The latest version even works properly with Picasa Web Albums and Blogger.
- I can open and edit MS Office docs, thanks to OpenOffice (or Google Docs).
- I can't run Quicken or QuickTax (ranked bronze or garbage by WineHQ's AppDB).
- I can't run iTunes.
- I can't run Google Chrome.
- I can't run SBCG4AP, or any Windows-only games from Popcap or Gamehouse.
So, it was time to get virtual. I created an 8Gb Win XP Home image, with 192Mb of RAM, running inside my 1.6Ghz, 1.25Gb RAM Thinkpad R51 Xubuntu laptop, and it works great. I can run Chrome, iTunes, Quicken, and at least one GameHouse game. Note that in this screenshot (top right corner), the CPU has clocked itself down to a whopping 600MHz using kpowersave's Powersave scheme and Dynamic CPU policy. You'll also notice I changed the default 'Right Control Key' mouse/keyboard grab toggle to 'Left Windows Key' because that way I don't have to use my right hand to switch from the main desktop to the virtual one.
Finally, let me show one last feature of VirtualBox: "seamless mode". With this enabled, you can blend XP apps right into your linux desktop. They're still managed by the Windows Start menu (which I've set to auto-hide in the shot below), and tend to force themselves to be above other linux-managed windows, but it provides an uncluttered way to work, if you prefer it.