Hey guys, I recently discovered linux (specifically ubuntu) and was absolutely fascinated by it. I was watching what people are able to do with ubuntu and compiz and I really want to be able to do that. I have windows 7 now and I don't want to completely get rid of it for linux because I have many games and applications that I don't want to lose. Is there a way that would enable me to run windows and then swap and run linux and then swap back? Thanks guys
With Virtualbox installed on your current Windows machine, you can run Ubuntu as a virtual machine, avoiding dual-boot Windows/Linux.
However, be aware that the performance of Ubuntu inside Virtualbox is NOT the same as installed directly on your hardware. You will most probably not be able to use Compiz and all the desktop/graphics gimmicks. Games or applications relying on the graphics adapter (GPU) will be either very slow, or downright unusable. This is because until now Virtualbox - as far as i know - is not able to use your GPU directly and will install a virtual driver under Ubuntu. There may be some OpenGL tweaks inside VirtualBox that may speed up graphics, but you need to try how and if it works for you.
The good news is: You can install Virtualbox and a Ubuntu VM on your Windows system and give it a try. If it works for you - fine, if not, no harm done, just remove Virtualbox and the Ubuntu VM file.
Installing Linux and running Windows on top of it in a virtual machine is not an option if you want to use Windows for games. UNLESS you do what I did:
1. Check that you got the right hardware for VGA passthrough under Xen: VT-d enabled CPU and motherboard / BIOS, two GPUs (an Intel HD... CPU internal GPU will do for Linux, the second GPU MUST be supported/compatible with VGA passthrough - many AMD cards are, with Nvidia you need "multi-OS" specified cards or else go into compiling a kernel and Xen hypervisor with patches, which will be a real pain and may not guarantee success).
2. Install your favorite Linux distro (Ubuntu 12.04 or most other recent distros) with Xen hypervisor on bare metal (clean install on bootable hard drive), using LVM partitions for everything but the /boot partition.
3. Figure out your PCI IDs using lspci within Linux terminal and - after some configuration adjustments to load the xen-pciback driver - passthrough your secondary GPU and perhaps a USB host to Windows.
4. If you don't have one, get a Windows "RETAIL" or "Enterprise" license. A normal OEM license that came with your computer won't do and most likely give you an "illegal copy" warning.
5. Install Windows as a virtual machine (domU in Xen slang) onto a dedicated LVM partition (no formatting other than LVM needed). This is a bit tricky - try the instructions you can find Googling for "VGA passthrough" and/or "gaming virtual machine".
6. If all goes well, you will be rewarded with Windows running concurrently with Linux on the same box, with native graphics acceleration on the Windows VM.
I'm now running Windows 7 Pro on Linux Mint 13 (Ubuntu-based) with Xen hypervisor 4.1.2 and get a Windows Experience Index base value of 7.0.
Here the detailed Windows Experience Index values:
Gaming graphics: 7.0
Primary hard disk: 7.8 (using the GPLPV driver, else 5.8)
Warning: It took me months to get everything working, mainly because of incompatible hardware (I wasted a lot of time with the Nvidia Quadro 600 graphics card but that didn't work, but the Quadro 2000 works smooth). Except for the Quadro 600 card, I selected my hardware to be compatible with VGA passthrough, i.e. VT-d support!