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A Case for Virtualization

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#1 OFFLINE   raymac46


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Posted 19 April 2017 - 08:38 PM

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It's been 50 years since the classic album "Bookends" was released. One of my favorite tracks on that album was "Fakin' It." Now I am aware that here are some SNF members who would describe virtualization that way - Fakin' It, Not Really Makin' It.
But I'm going to make my case for Virtual Computing nevertheless. I wouldn't have done this 5 years ago but there has been a big change in the virtualization landscape:
  • Virtualization software has gotten better and better. The bugs that drove us crazy with virtual drivers have been squashed. For example, VirtualBox is multi-platform and very easy to configure. And it's free.
  • Hardware now has gobs of RAM and multi-core processors are available. The whole process has been sped up to the point where it's almost seamless.
  • Linux distros are far more hardware friendly. In most cases if they work in a Virtual Machine, they'll work on the rails. That wasn't the case a few years ago.
  • Dual booting with Windows is getting to be more of a hassle. You can avoid the whole issue with a virtual machine.
  • There are lots of distros you probably wouldn't want to run in real life (Hello Arya Linux!) But you can give them a spin in Virtual Box. If you don't like it, just delete it. No harm done.
  • A rough measure of how good a job a packager is doing to polish up the distro is whether (s)he includes Guest Additions in the ISO so it runs right out of the box. The more "free software" Linux distros like Debian and Fedora require some module building to get the Guest Additions working but they provide good instructions so it isn't too bad.
  • If you want to try out a geekier distro like Arch or Slackware but you are afraid of borking your system, just build a virtual machine. If you screw up, you can delete it and start over.
  • Maybe there's a desktop you hated in the past - like KDE or Gnome 3. You can try them out in a virtual machine once again if you still hate them, remove the machine. it's all good.
  • I believe I could now choose Linux as my only system and run Windows in VirtualBox to execute Turbo Tax or any other non-Linux app like Adobe Digital Editions. Haven't got there yet, but I could.
Well that's my story and I'm sticking to it. If you rejected virtual machines as too slow, too complicated or too fake - well it's a lot better now. So give it a try.

Edited by raymac46, 20 April 2017 - 07:19 AM.

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#2 OFFLINE   securitybreach


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Posted 19 April 2017 - 09:27 PM

Especially things like KVM where you use the actual physical hardware versus virtual hardware. I am able to comfortably run 10 VMs with 8gb of ram a piece on my server with zero issues. I even have most of them networked with each other. Virtualization and Containers/Dockers is where it's at nowadays. Why use one server to run a server when you can run a cluster of VMs on one server?
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"Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be progress toward more pain." -George Orwell, 1984

#3 OFFLINE   raymac46


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Posted 20 April 2017 - 07:23 AM

When I first started distro-hopping (or as Eric says distro-farming) I had one old machine that had a 160 GB HDD and I put about 6 distros on it with chainloading. I was pretty good at that after getting tips from Bruno.
Today I just build another VM and I don't have to reboot to use the new distro. I know someone who has a whole virtual network running on his desktop at once.
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#4 OFFLINE   saturnian



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Posted 20 April 2017 - 09:15 AM

How well does all this work with a computer that has only about 2 GB RAM?

#5 OFFLINE   raymac46


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Posted 20 April 2017 - 09:32 AM

Haven't tried it there. I suspect that it's probably not going to work very well. I run VMs on machines with 16 GB of RAM and give the machine 2 GB. For light distros VirtualBox recommends 512 MB minimum for the machine you are building.
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#6 OFFLINE   Hedon James

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 10:40 AM

View Postsaturnian, on 20 April 2017 - 09:15 AM, said:

How well does all this work with a computer that has only about 2 GB RAM?

Not quite as well, but as long as you retain the majority of RAM for your host, you should be okay.  Perhaps not ideal, but everything will work just fine.  For a machine with 2GB RAM, I'd suggest that 1.25GB should be kept by the host, with 756K RAM allocated to the guest.

Also, FWIW, I've been known to create a VM and just run the ISO as a LiveSession, never installing to a Virtual drive.  You don't have to install to tinker & play, you can just run the ISO and when you're done playing with it, just exit the machine and choose "save settings" and a snapshot will be created.  The next time you want to play with the VM, instead of a LiveSession/boot sequence, the snapshot is restored...almost immediately!  Just an FYI...

#7 OFFLINE   V.T. Eric Layton

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 05:53 PM

"Distro farming" was not original. I think Urmas was the first one I knew calling it that. :)

Virtual computing is like virtual breakfast. It works, just not as satisfying. ;)
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