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How best to work with several operating systems?

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How best to work with several operating systems?

Each operating system, still unique, and sometimes you might find yourself in a position where the best solution will be the use of multiple operating systems. For example, the programmer can use Linux for code and Windows for test builds, and the artist can use Windows for Photoshop and Linux for normal use on a home computer.

But what if you only have one machine? This is not a problem. On one computer it is possible to run multiple operating systems using either multi boot or virtualization technology. Let's see, what will be best for you.

Although most of the ideas in this article can also apply to OS X, mostly we focus on operating systems Windows and Linux. Apple does not allow you to use OS X on machines not released by Apple, so then you have to use the Apple machine as a host, will you use multiboot or to use the computer as a host for virtual machines.

The pros and cons of multi boot.
Multi boot, this is the schema in which you install two or more operating systems on one computer next to each other, and you can choose which one you will use every time you boot or restart your computer.

Today it is used often enough, especially given the fact that many Linux distributions will automatically set up booting to other operating systems if you install (a few years ago it was hard to imagine). It should be noted that multi boot very few weaknesses.

The most notable advantage is that you are using all your computer resources – memory, CPU, GPU, etc. – in the operating system that you downloaded. Even if you have multiple operating systems installed, each time you run only one, so you don't need to provide half of the resources of one computer system, and the other half another. It's important to practice that involves the active use of system resources – for example, for games.

This is not true for VMS, which we will discuss below.

You not only do one system at a time, but you also give each operating system a partition on a hard disk which they can use. For example, if you have a 500-GB hard drive, Windows may be obtained, for example, 200 GB, but Linux is 300 gigabytes. If you have two separate hard disk, you can assign each of them to any system. The choice is yours.

The operating system will not be able to work with data out of your markup (this is true more for Windows – however, it is still possible, but the corresponding instruction is beyond the scope of this article).

Partitions is needed because different systems store their data in different ways (for example, Windows uses the NTFS file system, but Linux is usually ext4), and different file systems are not cross-compatible. In particular, moving files between file systems is often impossible without third-party software and more slowly because of processes of their conversion.

So, what happens if you want to switch from Windows to Linux? As mentioned above, you need to restart the computer because the operating system is selected at boot time.

This can be quite inconvenient depending on how often you have to switch between operating systems. Of course, you can speed up the download Windows and speed up boot Linux, using different tips, for example, by setting the SSD. But, however, to reboot between systems is still not very convenient.

If you want to use multi boot, we recommend you to first install Windows and then install Linux, and not Vice versa. If you do not delve into the details, just will be easier for you.

The pros and cons of the virtual machine.
Virtual machines are not as scary as it seems or sounds. They are surprisingly simple and easy to use, even if you have no technical skills. We can say that using a VM is no worse or better to use multi boot. It's just another technology.

In short, a virtual machine is a emulator that runs the "guest operating system" (e.g., Linux) from the host operating system (e.g. Windows). When you install the guest OS, you can run it as any other program, and, generally speaking, it will be just another window on your desktop.

Sounds good, isn't it? And for the most part it is true. You don't need to reboot to switch between operating systems, and you can also run multiple operating systems at the same time, and each of them will be given a window. Try to do it with multi boot – you will not succeed.

This is not only more convenient, but the virtual machine also typically safer, because each guest operating system runs in the environment-the"sandbox". No matter what happens inside the guest operating system, your host system will remain safe and intact – even if the guest OS got a virus, or she fell! Therefore, virtual machines are the best tool for testing new operating systems.

Another great feature is the ability to move your guest operating systems from one host to another. The guest is usually saved as a file on your hard drive, so if two hosts use the same virtual machine emulator (we suggest Virtualbox), this file can be moved and loaded without any problems. In some cases, you can even copy the operating system of the host in the guest to use it somewhere else.

However, all this has a price.

The problem is that your computer resources – memory, CPU, graphics, etc. – are divided between all running virtual machines and the host system. For example, if you decide to run Linux from Windows, Linux will not "give" one hundred percent, and you can observe the lock-UPS or other performance issues. The more RAM you allocate to the guest, the better it will work.

On older computers virtualization is undesirable because it will work very slowly. And because the guest systems are stored in a single file, you can accidentally clear a file, and losing the guest operating system.

Finally, maybe you're wondering which operating system to use as host and which as guest. Technically it doesn't matter because Virtualbox runs under all popular operating systems.

However, we recommend you to select the operating system, which you will use often, as a system host. If you spend most of your time in Linux and Windows you only need it for Photoshop, make Linux the host. If you use Linux only for programming one hour per day, make Windows the host system. It's simple, right?

Remember that if you need one hundred percent of your computer resources in the guest system, for example, for video, games or other activities associated with the consumption of a large amount of resources, it may be best to try multi boot.

What is best for you?
If you often switch between multiple OSes, use a virtual machine. If you just want to test something on another system within a few minutes, use a virtual machine. If you want a safe environment-sandbox to experiment, use a virtual machine. If you have a very powerful computer, use a virtual machine. If you very much do not like to reboot, again use the virtual machine.

In all other cases you better use multi boot. This method is used by many users around the world, including me.

But before you begin with installation, decide whether you need to have multiple operating systems installed. If you only want one opportunity from another system, you may be able to use it on your preferred operating system.

What do you prefer – multi boot or a virtual machine? Do you have advice for those who still can not decide? Have I missed something? Share your opinion in the comments below!

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