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  1. #1

    Ready to switch, but need to run Windows 8 too

    I hate Windows 8. I refuse to be stuck with this monstrosity. I'm ready to switch to Linux, but don't have a clue which distro to use. I have a relatively new Dell laptop, so I'm sure any of them would do.

    I'm not a gamer, except for an occasional game of spider solitaire or free cell. I get all my entertainment online through streaming videos and downloaded music. I read ebooks. I am a professional writer/blogger, so I need to be able to download and upload images and files rather quickly. I have really fast Xfinity Comcast internet. I occasionally play around with graphics.

    I need to keep Windows on my machine due to having to use an older version of Paint Shop Pro, which isn't compatible with Linux at all (No, I don't want GIMP, TYVM. Too difficult to learn to use). Also have a couple of Windows programs I really like, so I want to run the two OSs side-by-side.

    Which Linux would be best for me, and how hard is it to run them side-by-side? ETA: I only have 4G of ram on a 64-bit machine.

    Last edited by Angelpie; 11-14-2013 at 08:38 PM.

  2. #2
    Linux Engineer docbop's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Woodshed, CA
    Many ways to approach this, but I would use VirtualBox or similar package and run one of the OSes as a virtual machine. Which way depends on if you actually have Windows install disks or not.

    1. If you have real Windows install disks and install disks for all your Windows app's, you could wipe your laptop, install Linux, then install VirtualBox and create a virtual machine and install Windows in it. IMO Windows is actually more stable in a virtual machine than a physical.

    2. The reverse keep your Windows and install VirtualBox on Windows and then create a virtual machine and install Linux in it. As a noob to Linux this might be good way to get started.

    I've used both approaches at different jobs and works well.

  3. #3
    Administrator jayd512's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Hello and Welcome!
    First, let me say that dual-booting a machine is not difficult at all. It's how many of us started out with Linux. This guide shows how to set up Ubuntu and Windows, and should work nicely with most other distros.
    That said, a lot of folks dipping their toes in the Linux pool often decide on one of a few distros to get started.
    • Mint
    • Ubuntu
    • Fedora
    • OpenSUSE

    The default GUI for Ubuntu is called Unity... and whether you like it or not is up to you. But it can be easily changed to something more to your tastes.
    You can take a look at DistroWatch for more information on these distros, among many others.

    New users, read this first.
    New Member FAQ
    Registered Linux User #463940
    I do not respond to private messages asking for Linux help. Please keep it on the public boards.

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #4
    Penguin of trust elija's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Either at home or at work or down the pub
    Lots of good distro advice has already been given here so I'll not add to that. Gimp is not the only photo editing option in Linux. Have a look at Fotoxx which is reputedly much simpler than Gimp and should be available in the repositories of most distros.
    Should you be sitting wondering,
    Which Batman is the best,
    There's only one true answer my friend,
    It's Adam Bloody West!

    The Fifth Continent

  6. #5
    Linux Enthusiast Steven_G's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Western US
    You can also use VMware's vCenter Converter to convert your current windows install to a VM.

    I really like this solution, though it does take a little work. I hack everything I touch. This will let you convert your whole installation, with all installed software and customizations to a VM.

    You'll need to do some research first. There are some notes over at VirtualBox that you will need. Windows does not like it when you move an install. The exported VM will not run at all once exported unless you make a couple of registry changes before you export the install. It's been a while since I've done it and I can't find the info. But, if you export it and try to run it then it will crash with an error. Google the error for the fix.

    Also, when you do the export you will need to make some changes to the hardware configuration of the exported VM. I did this on my wife's machine. It is similar to yours. Of course the physical installation is using all avaialble cores (her's has 4) and all avalable RAM. So when I exported it I had to tell the VM that the new "hardware" was only 2 cores and 2 GB RAM so that the VM would not try to use all of the systems physical resources.

    I exported a 7 install. Once I cut it down to just 2 cores and 2 GB RAM I had to adjust all of the windows visual properties to get the VM to run on the limited physical resources without lagging / crashing. I basically just turned off all of the eye candy and made it look like a Win95 install; very basic. It runs like a charm now.

    It took me a couple of tries to work out all of the bugs. And I exported to a .vhd format; which will run under both VMware Player and Virtualbox. (But in VMware you'll have to hack an XML file for the VM to mount the vhd as an IDE = simple google search.)

    I would suggest xubuntu 12.04 with gnome-system-tools and virtualbox. Install VB from their page, not the version in the ubuntu repos. It works much better.

    I would also advise that you custom install xubuntu with boot, root, swap and home partitions for several reasons. Amongst them is that you can put all your data on the home partition and then set up shared folders and give the VM access to your home folder / data.

    Make sure that you do not wipe your windows physical install unitll you have all of the kinks worked out of the VM. You can install VMware player or virtualbox in windows and test it there before installing linux. Of course you'll need to back up all of your data before wiping the drive / giving it to a linux installation.

    Even though this solution is a fair bit of work and dual boot is a good set up for some things I think that for your needs this is the best setup. Dual boot is less work. But, if you're not a gamer I really don't think that dual boot is worth the potential risks.

    You see with dual boot it is still possible for some doze problems / infections to trash your entire system; including the linux side. There are some things that can be done to mitigate this risk. But, if you're not playing a lot of resource intensive games under windows and don't need direct window's access to the hardware for them to run then why take the risk with no benefits?

    It also has the upside or working no matter what your windows install source is; be it an OEM disk, a retail disk or a restore partition on the hard drive.

  7. #6
    Thanks, everyone. This all sounds too complicated for my non-techie head, so I think it would be best for me to just buy a cheap second-hand laptop, wipe it and install Linux, then learn it like that before wiping this one and installing it on this one. I don't have Windows 8 disks, so I don't want to risk ruining it. I work daily on this computer, so that is what will work better for me.

  8. #7
    Just Joined! txlonghorn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    at /home
    It doesn't have to be all that complicated.
    Download Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon from
    Burn it to a dvd.
    Boot from the dvd - the complete operation system will load.
    Click on the Install to Hard Drive link on the desktop.
    Choose to install ALONGSIDE the existing OS (Windows).
    That's it. You will have both operating system available to chose from at boot.

  9. #8
    Administrator jayd512's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Yep... what he said. For many distros, the dual-boot process walks you right through the installation.

    New users, read this first.
    New Member FAQ
    Registered Linux User #463940
    I do not respond to private messages asking for Linux help. Please keep it on the public boards.

  10. #9
    Just Joined! bcbuch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Higden, Arkansas
    You have been given some good advice here. if you have a good broadband connection I would probably go to distrowatch and check out a few of the different flavors that are out there distribution as well as desktop environment wise. Download a few iso files for some of the live cd's out there, burn them and give them a spin. Understand they will be slower than an installed system, but they will give you a look and feel for things, and let you do a little window shopping and test driving to find something that suits your taste and needs.

    As far as the abortion called Windows 8, Google Classic Shell. It will give you the ability to shut off most all of the meto garbage and give you the ability to have a more familiar desktop you can get by with while you are transitioning over to linux.

  11. #10
    Newbie to newbie; I bought a handful of HDD's for my laptop, pulled the one with Windoze OS, stuck in the new blank HDD and put the the Fedora linux distribution DVD in the optical drive. Here I am a year later, never to go back to any M$ product.

    I have had the M$ OS HDD back in a couple of times for some odd detail that I couldn't remember to how to find outside the computer.

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