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Using virtual machines to test distro's before full install...


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#1 66Batmobile

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 09:42 PM

Greets everyone...

 

I'll try to keep this short and sweet.

 

Would running a distro in a virtual machine before installing to the hard drive give a more accurate idea of how the distro works with your hardware than a live session from DVD?  I've noticed a lot of conversation here and other places about doing so, and curiosity got to me.  The main interest's for me are:

  • Keeping down the wear on my system, especially the HDD and the DVD drive
  • I don't have an infinite supply of blank media and money's tight

Just looking for opinions, appreciate any pointers. :thumbup2:

 

 

eta-Basic specs for machine

  • Intel i3 2100 dual-core/2nd gen intel graphics
  • 6GB DDR3 ram
  • 1TB HDD
  • Currently dual booting Mint 17.2/Mate 16.04

Edited by 66Batmobile, 11 June 2016 - 10:04 PM.

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#2 Condobloke

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 09:47 PM

From my experience...Yes.

 

I am currently running windows 10 and another distro of linux in Oracle Virtual Box

 

Simple to set up.

 

It works. (and in the case of windows 10, the telemetry that msft receives is not worth a fig, afaik )

 

If any distro etc is going to be a nightmare, it makes exceptionally good sense to discover that at no cost.


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#3 NickAu

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 10:04 PM

 

Using virtual machines to test distro's before full install

Yes and no.

 

Yes to playing around with it and all the fun stuff.

 

No to seeing if it will work well on your PC.



#4 66Batmobile

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 01:50 PM

 

Yes and no.

 

Yes to playing around with it and all the fun stuff.

 

No to seeing if it will work well on your PC.

Uh, would anyone be able to elaborate on that a little...LOL


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#5 Guest_hollowface_*

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 03:12 PM

Would running a distro in a virtual machine before installing to the hard drive give a more accurate idea of how the distro works with your hardware than a live session from DVD?  

I assume you are talking about products like VirtualBox and VMWare Workstation Player. The answer is no, because aside from the CPU (partially) and any devices you passthrough, your real hardware isn't accessible to the VM, so its not being tested, virtual hardware is.

A virtual machine is software pretending to be hardware. Some hypervisors (virtual machine programs) provide full virtualization, meaning a 100% virtual environment (eg: PearPC), but these are slow because you are emulating a CPU. The advantage is you can have completely different hardware than the host (computer running the hypervisor). Others like VirtualBox and VMware Workstation Player use partial virtualization (despite refering to themselves as full virtualization. Nobody uses the terms consistently!) to provide mostly virtualized hardware. They don't emulate a CPU though they don't provide full direct acess either. The result is the VM will have the same type of CPU as the host (though not necessarily the same number of cores, or the same features), but otherwise virtual hardware. These types of hypervisors also usually offer drivers (eg: VirtualBox Guest Addons, VMware Tools) to enable more features (eg: Shared clipboards), and provide additional hardware virtualization assistance (eg: improving graphics performance). At this point I consider them paravirtualization not partial virtualization, but most would disagree with that assessment (paravirtualization being a type of virtualization where the guest OS is modified to work), but it doesn't really matter what you call it. Many hypervisors also allow passingthrough some real hardware, typically usb devices, but some expensive hypervisors allow PCI devices (usually aimed at passing through a graphics card to create a production VM).

Keeping down the wear on my system, especially the HDD and the DVD drive

Your harddrive will still recieve wear, because the VM will be storing it's data on your harddrive in a file (or series of files) that act as the VM's virtual harddrive.

I don't have an infinite supply of blank media and money's tight

Same. I usually use DVD-R for a few important operating system discs. I store disc ISOs on my harddrive, rather than burn discs for everything I download. If I want to try one on my real hardware I just burn it temporarily to a DVD+RW or use a flashdrive.
 

#6 pcpunk

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 05:09 PM

I think your best choice is a LinuxLiveUSB!  No wear on your drive and way faster than a DVD.  HF had a really good explanation as ususal.  VM's take up space and need to be setup also, so again, to keep it simple I would use the USB.  After using Unetbootin for a long time - along with LiLi - cat1092 suggested to the forum that UUI was a good tool...and now I have to agree.  I mainly used Unetbootin because I only ran Linux, but now have a Winodws box that I can run UUI from, hope you do too.  It won't matter the USB, an inexpensive 8GB will work fine, even a 4GB will work.  I found while using a LinuxLiveSession, the faster USB's did not make it faster, it's only while doing a full install it would matter.  You can always reformat and install another distro each time you wish to try another.  I booted a LinuxLiveDVD the other day, and was like: "O-boy this is taking long" now always try to use USB's for this even if with Unetbootin.

http://www.pendrivelinux.com/universal-usb-installer-easy-as-1-2-3/


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#7 66Batmobile

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 06:41 PM

Thanks guys! :thumbup2:

Ah well, it was a thought...might still figure it out anyway, at least to tell if I like a distro.  Should probably start saving pennies for some USB drives too.


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#8 Condobloke

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 07:10 PM

I beg to differ.

 

I ran many and various distros on usb.....and then being unsure of what the hell I was doing and what I liked and didnt like.....I was reluctant to wipe the usb's and move on,,,,,,,just in case I wanted to go back at some time.....but didnt want the hassle of redownloading the os and unetbootin it to the usb stick again....

 

So.....then came the virtual machines establishment. I threw a handful of os's....peppermint 6, ububtu, mint, mate, puppy in various forms, slacko, etc etc etc etc.....and after quite a lot of screwing around, I formed an opinion that linux mint was going to be the one to follow. I formed the opinion from conclusions drawn by using all of those in a virtual machine. I have not been disappointed with my choice. I have not had to keep track of multiple usb sticks/thumb drives either.


Condobloke ...Outback Australian  fed up with Windows antics...??....LINUX IS THE ANSWER....I USE LINUX MINT 18.3  EXCLUSIVELY.

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#9 NickAu

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 07:22 PM

Other than puppy, the best way to take most distros for a test drive in in VM.


Edited by NickAu, 12 June 2016 - 07:23 PM.


#10 66Batmobile

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 07:25 PM

@condobloke

Right there with ya buddy-as I said I may still give it a whirl depending on if I can get an idea of if my box is a good candidate.

Saving for USB's was a reference to the fact that I don't even own one :unsure: -something I probably need to rectify sooner or later.

 

@Nick

:thumbup2:


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#11 Gary R

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Posted 13 June 2016 - 12:26 AM

I keep my downloaded ISOs on my main machine's hard drive, and copy them on to a 8GB USB drive as and when I want to try them out.

 

That way I only need one USB drive, which can be used over and over and over again, with whichever OS I wish to test drive. Provided I don't delete any of the ISOs from my hard drive, I only have to download them once, and I can go back and re-test any of them whenever I wish.

 

I also have a VM set up, and test some things within that, but as Nick says, if you're wanting to see if a particular distro is compatible with your hardware, then running it in a VM will not help you answer that question.


Edited by Gary R, 13 June 2016 - 12:27 AM.


#12 mremski

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Posted 13 June 2016 - 05:46 AM

Virtual environments are exactly that:  virtual.  Any of the more traditional ones (VirtualBox, VMWare) have a layer between the guest OS and the host hardware, so you lose "will this work with my hardware".  The newer ones (hypervisors, containers, LXE or whatever you want to call them) will have a little more direct interaction with the real hardware or they can be fully virtual (hollowface says all this very well above). 

 

If the intent is to see how a distribution works on your hardware, a live bootable media (disc/USB) is the best and easiest test.  Virtual environments are useful for experimenting and actually separating environments.  A virtual machine, running Windows on a *nix host is the best way to run Windows "safely".  Get a virus?  Wipe it out.

 

If you don't know if you want to use a particular distribution, a virtual machine is a good way to make that decision (instead of trying to multiboot many distributions).  So keep in mind the answers above seem to be related to these 2 different requirements:  Testing different distributions and will this distribution work on MY hardware.


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#13 DeimosChaos

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Posted 13 June 2016 - 08:11 AM

+1 mremski

 

TLDR answer - Run the OS in a VM if you want to see if you like that OS. Run the OS on a Live DVD/USB to see if it works with your hardware.


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#14 MadmanRB

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Posted 13 June 2016 - 11:51 AM

There are great advantages that a virtual machine can provide over a live medium, mainly the ability to make changes stick as long as you have your medium.

 

If you have the power use it


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#15 DeimosChaos

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Posted 13 June 2016 - 12:07 PM

There are great advantages that a virtual machine can provide over a live medium, mainly the ability to make changes stick as long as you have your medium.

 

If you have the power use it

While true... this wasn't what the OP was looking to answer.

 

Original question:

 

 

Would running a distro in a virtual machine before installing to the hard drive give a more accurate idea of how the distro works with your hardware than a live session from DVD?

Running a VM is great (I use them all the time), but it won't let you see how that OS interacts with your physical hardware.


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