Artronic Development (ARDE)

One Box, Two OSs at the Same Time

David W. Eaton
Artronic Development
4848 E. Cactus Rd. - Suite 505-224
Scottsdale, Arizona 85254
April 2000


If you have needed to run more than one OS on a single machine at the same time, this may offer some solutions for you.

This presentation will help you learn:

  1. How to run more than one OS on a box at the same time
  2. User experiences installing the application and guest OSs
  3. Performance perceptions of running some applications under VMware


For "PC compatible" machines, the list of available operating system choices continues to expand. But in most cases, the OS alone is not why you are using a computer. It is your particular set of computer applications that are key to allowing you to be productive. If all of the applications you need are available and run reliably under a single version of the same operating system, then most likely that is the OS you will choose to use, and this presentation will have little value for you.

However, what do you do if you need to run some applications that are available only on MS Windows and others that are available only on a UNIX variation such as FreeBSD or Linux? What if some applications only run on MS Windows 98 and others only on MS Windows 2000? What if some require Red Hat Linux 5.2 and others require Caldera Open Linux 2.3?

In the past, the most common solution was to have two (or more) machines on your desk and move between them as needed. But even with good networking in place, this can become awkward. Plus, it is expensive to purchase and maintain duplicate hardware.

The emergence of multi-boot software at least enabled you to reduce the number of machines required, but you needed to wrap up everything you were doing in one environment before you could reboot in the other environment. Then you had to repeat the boot process to return to your desktop of choice once the special project task was completed--not very efficient.

Emulation packages such as "WABI" and non-emulators such as "WINE" have held out the promise of running Microsoft applications in a UNIX environment, but these have encountered problems in providing the performance and functions required to do this task well for some applications. Furthermore, such packages did not address the problem of UNIX applications running on MS Windows nor the problem of needing a particular version of your OS for certain applications and a different version for others.

VMware, Inc. may offer a solution for those in this situation. Its software can be loaded and run on either Linux or MS Windows NT systems. It then allows you to install a number of guest "virtual machines" that you actually boot and run in a window on your host OS of choice. For example, whether your host OS is Linux or MS Windows NT, you could run virtual versions of MS Windows 3.1, Windows 98, or Windows 2000 or of FreeBSD, Red Hat Linux, SuSE Linux, or Caldera Open Linux on either one of them. All this time, your choice of host OS is available for you to use in your normal manner. Need more than two OSs? If you have the resources, that works too.

This presentation will take a closer look at VMware's offering from a user's perspective. It will discuss considerations encountered loading VMware, installing the guest OS, ensuring performance, and actually using this package in a real-world environment.

(Note: the presenter is not an employee or sales representative of VMware. This is an independent user presentation first given at the InterWorks 2000 conference.)

Biographical Sketch:

Dave Eaton operates his own business, which specializes in Web crafting, hosting, and consulting. He has been using Linux and creating and maintaining Web sites since mid-1994.

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(Updated 08 Aug 2004)