Satyendra's Blog

Here i will be discussing about the technologies I am working with and interested in…

WINDOWS AND LINUX VIRTUALIZATION

on July 26, 2009
We keep complaining about how we’d like to use Linux if all our work and favourites applications are here on Windows. Virtualisation can be harnessed to run both Linux and Windows together, but virtual machines are very resource hungry and it’s not practical. For example it requires at least 1GB of available RAM to run any modern Linux distro efficiently and at the same time the host Windows OS is also running adding more to the resources. This is the case if you are using VirtualBox, Microsoft VirtualPC or VMWare Workstation. AndLinux could be the solution to all your problems. With andLinux, you can run Linux applications on Windows without having to boot into Linux or run virtual machines.

Another virtualisation method quite common with Ubuntu distro is using WUBI (Windows Based Ubuntu Installer). Using WUBI you can install Ubuntu inside windows as any standard windows application on any partition without making any separate partitions for it.

Getting andLinux up and Running
AndLinux is free software and can be easily downloaded by firing a Google search. AndLinux doesn’t require you to create or modify any partitions, and the entire installation procedure is done on Windows like any other application. Double click the executable and continue beyond the agreement accepting window. Enter a suitable amount of memory that you want to allot to andLinux. If you want to use sound applications, check the radio box for enabling the audio support module. Similarly, if you want to use andLinux seamlessly when you boot into Windows, choose to set up andLinux as an NT service that runs automatically. Next, select the method you want to access the Windows file system. Choose CoFS, however, network shares can be used using Samba. The next step is to select the partition that can be accessed by andLinux. You can also set it to access a particular folder. Select the folder and proceed.

Accessing andLinux’s Applications
If you’re wondering where the andLinux applications are, they are all accessible from the icon in the system tray. If you want to run console applications, you can open a terminal session using Konsole or an andLinux terminal. The username to use is [root] with no password. The andLinux terminal allows you to jump to other terminals using the [Alt] + [F1] / [F2] / [F3] / [F5] / [F6] keys.

Adding New Software
You might think andLinux works like some kind of LiveCD that runs on Windows, but it is much more than that. LiveCDs generally don’t let you install applications, which means you are stuck with what is provided. One of the most impressive features other than running Linux on Windows is that you can actually install new software on it. The simplest and quickest way to do this is to use the Synaptic Package Manager, as long as you have an Internet connection. Right-click on the system tray icon and click on Synaptic. Now search or browse through the directory for the software you want. Right-click on the application and click Mark for Installation. Click on Apply on the top menu to have the software downloaded and installed. You can also use apt-get to install, like in any other distributions.

Stopping the Service
While it’s fun to have andLinux and its applications running on Windows, it can sometimes be a resource hog especially if you don’t have a lot of RAM to spare or if you’re about to start some intensive games. In such cases, you might want to shut down all the unnecessary services and programs running in the background. Go to the folder where you installed andLinux. Double click on srvstop.bat and the service will end. The service can also be shut through the Services manager under Windows Administrative Tools. To start the service again, double click srvstart.bat.

Using andLinux’s Integration for Windows File Formats
If you haven’t noticed, andLinux doesn’t only run applications or open files in the Linux file system. You can browse through folders and use andLinux’s applications run certain files—for example, .doc files can be opened using KWord. Browse using Windows explorer, right-click and you will see the application name in andLinux. If you don’t see an association made, you can open the application using the menu. Then proceed to open the file through the File > Open menu. Look for a path to Windows to open files in the Windows partition. You can also access the same partition through the path /mnt/win. Keep in mind, that andLinux will not be able to open paths outside the ones you specify during the installation.

Using WUBI
WUBI is by default available with all the modern Ubuntu distros after version 8.1. When you download ISO image of Ubuntu and burn it to disc then WUBI is already available on the disc. All you have to do is to run UMENU.exe and then click on Install Inside Windows. Then from the next screen select the size that should be occupied, username, password and the partition in which it should be installed. Select any partition depending on size you selected. It will not be formatted or changed. All your data on it will remain as it is. Then the installation progress is displayed. After that you are asked to restart the computer. You can remove the CD from the drive. Installation will now proceed from the image which the setup created.

Restart the computer. You will see a new entry called Ubuntu in the Windows Startup Menu. Select it and let the installation proceed. You won’t be required to do anything now. After installation completes login screen will appear. And so the installation is now over. What the WUBI does is it adds a entry to the Master Boot Record(MBR) without deleting any previous data. Thus the entry is added to Windows Bootloader. When you select Ubuntu from Windows Startup Menu then the control is transferred to GRUB. Now you must have realised that it is just the reverse process of what was happening in previous Linux distros (where installing Linux in dual boot with windows replaced the MBR with GRUB and then the control was transferred to Windows).

Now that Ubuntu is installed you can add or remove packages from it like any other distribution. The only thing which I found was not available with this type of installation using WUBI was that Ubuntu didn’t support hibernation. All other features were the same.

Removing it is also a very simple task. Just start in Windows and go to the drive where you installed Ubuntu. There will be a folder named Ubuntu there. Open it and click on Uninstall-Ubuntu.exe. Then click Uninstall. No more the pain of restoring MBR to recover windows installation.

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