Over the past few months, I’ve been moving more and more towards using an open source operating system full time. I no longer have a useable desktop and it’s too expensive right now for me to build a new system (well, one that I really want), so I’m currently using my work laptop. It’s a work PC, so inevitably there’s a need for Windows for some users. My solution? Run Ubuntu using Parallels Workstation. I don’t hate Windows by any means, I just really like using Ubuntu.
I first heard of the Parallels Virtual Machine (VM) a few months ago on an episode of the Security Now netcast. At first I thought it was only for Apple machines but about a month ago I tried the demo version of Parallels Workstation. I was pleasantly surprised on how easy it was to use and how easy it was to install Linux as a virtual machine.
After installing Parallels Workstation downloading Ubuntu version 6.10 (Edgy Eft), I burned the ISO to a CD and fired up the VM (Other Linux in the VM selection wizard). The LiveCD loaded and I clicked install to install Ubuntu to the virtual hard drive. In about 15 to 20 minutes, the VM rebooted and I was running Ubuntu inside of Windows.
While it is very useful for me to be able to run Linux, doing it inside a virtual machine isn’t the best solution. Some things just don’t run as they should. A prime example of that is hardware acceleration. As far as I know, currently there’s no way for Parallels to use the video card to accelerate the video. I’ve also found that only one of two cores are recognized with a dual core processor.
There is one item that I’ve found to be a lot easier to configure in the VM than when running natively. On this particular Dell Latitude D620, the 802.11b/g card is the Dell Wireless 1390 WLAN Mini-Card. I’ve had nightmares getting this card to work when I boot into Ubuntu, but the network connection from Windows works perfectly in the VM due to the virtual NIC provided by Parallels.
Everything should work now that everything is installed, I’ve created my user account, and have logged in. Not quite, but it’s much better than any other Linux distribution I’ve used in the past. At least my sound card, keyboard, mouse and other pointing devices work… and that I get into X without any hassle. Gnome desktop looks great, too. What’s there to fix?