If you’ve ever tried a compositing window manager on your X server running on your favorite Linux distro, and if you’re anything like me – then you’ll miss it when it’s not there.
Unfortunately making the switch to Linux for day-to-day use is not really an option for me. For a start – I write software for Windows and there are a number of applications that I use under Windows.
I’ve never really used a virtual machine as much more than a test environment… but in a bid to cement Ubuntu as my default OS, I’ve taken to VirtualBox – and what’s more, it works very well.
VirtualBox lacks some of the advanced features of VMWare – such as snapshot branching… but it’s very good as a simple virtual machine… and it’s free.
The last time I tried to do something similar was with qemu (which I believe VirtualBox is based on) and Windows 2000. I had problem after problem getting it to work… blue screens during installation being the main issue. This time I’m using VirtualBox and Windows XP and everything just works as expected. I’ve made an effort to streamline windows as much as possible… opting not to install a virus scanner and disabling things like system restore.
Under Linux, VirtualBox has a ‘seamless’ mode where everything except the desktop is rendered. I didn’t get on very well with this… it seems to leave artifacts all over the screen, and isn’t really seamless – as I can’t drag a window onto another desktop. I believe there are hacks about that use RDP for seamless interactivity that work better.