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  1. #1
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    Practical for home user to have Virtual Machine?

    Hi to all,

    Is it practical for a home user to have a VM?
    Last edited by qwest; 2011-12-12 at 11:27.

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    It all depends on what the home user wants to do.

    Joe

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeP517 View Post
    It all depends on what the home user wants to do.

    Joe
    you're right, the only reason I can of is to use as another machine for trying new apps, thanks for your reply

  5. #4
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    If you only have one or two systems and they aren't tricked out with 4 or more cores and at least 4 gigs of RAM, etc. etc., and are willing to put up with the performance hit if you can't move to a SSD...not terribly practical.

    In my situation of running several systems that can handle a VM all the time and doing everything needed to get performance out of a VM...oh my, some tremendous advantages in the form of VM replication to other systems, every copy is a backup so no imaging required, greater system resource utilization, flexibility to never need dual or triple boot (just use the OS you want when you want). Those are four of the biggies I can think of right off the top.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Infinicore View Post
    If you only have one or two systems and they aren't tricked out with 4 or more cores and at least 4 gigs of RAM, etc. etc., and are willing to put up with the performance hit if you can't move to a SSD...not terribly practical.

    In my situation of running several systems that can handle a VM all the time and doing everything needed to get performance out of a VM...oh my, some tremendous advantages in the form of VM replication to other systems, every copy is a backup so no imaging required, greater system resource utilization, flexibility to never need dual or triple boot (just use the OS you want when you want). Those are four of the biggies I can think of right off the top.
    Thank you, that's the answer, I have one system and was wondering if it would be a load on the computer even with a dual core, 3g ram.

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    I do have a VM installed on one dualie and when I get a video render task started there, it is registering 100% CPU usage on the host computer. I can still do other menial tasks on the host but I wouldn't think I could play back a hi def movie without interruption. Sometimes its surprising though what multiple cores are capable of even though they are fully saturated but if I had 4 I know I'd have some breathing room. My 6 cores can run 2 VMs and the host without fully saturating...close though!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by qwest View Post
    Thank you, that's the answer, I have one system and was wondering if it would be a load on the computer even with a dual core, 3g ram.
    It's doable, with a performance penalty, but definitely doable. I have 4 GB on my laptop, but running W7 32 bit, so only have access to 3 GB RAM and I can run Windows 7 XP Mode, have a Virtual Box with Windows 8 and run VMware player with a work VM (one at a time, of course).

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    I have been running the Windows VM on a dual core 2.8GHz Windows XP SP3 desktop with 2GB RAM for some time. I run Window ME (sic) in the VM. I use this VM to update a training manual that requires interaction between Office 2000 and PageMaker. I must use PowerPoint 2000 because PowerPoint 2007 will not link the slides correctly to the PageMaker file. I find running both Office 2000 and Office 2007 together under XP gives rise to problems, so this is the best solution. I suppose I could buy InDesign, but it's not cheap, and apart from this problem, PageMaker is fine for me, at least for the moment.

    Why ME? Because I have a spare license for this OS. I could run XP in the VM, but I'd need another license for that.

    Chris

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    Quote Originally Posted by Infinicore View Post
    If you only have one or two systems and they aren't tricked out with 4 or more cores and at least 4 gigs of RAM, etc. etc., and are willing to put up with the performance hit if you can't move to a SSD...not terribly practical.
    I disagree
    I only have 4 GB RAM and HDD but no SSD.

    I am perfectly satisfied with 2 GB RAM dedicated to to Guest and only 2 GB RAM available to the Host.

    I have never yet needed more than 2 GB for the Guest and see no likelihood.

    I might need to reconsider if I was an on-line game player and decided to use my Guest for myself to compete with myself on the Host

    I normally have the full availability of 4 GB RAM for the Host because I rarely need to launch the VBOX system,
    and when I am using the Guest I only switch into the Host to copy across to the folder what I wish to share with the Guest.
    (If I want to try something that might harm my real system, or that might accidentally allow malware intrusion and damage,
    I do it with the Guest and carefully regulate what it can read from the Host, and block any attempt to write back to the Host system.)

  11. #10
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    That's a good, traditional use of a VM, but, what if you had to use the VM all the time and not just on rare occasions? Would it pass muster as well as the host does? That's what I meant, and didn't express it very well. I've been where you're coming from and while you describe a practical use, I've moved on to practical use in general, no holds barred except where a VM still isn't and may never be competent, like gaming. My VMs are running much of the time and I sign into and use them remotely just as if they were another computer.

    So I need better descriptives I guess. Virtual computer as opposed to virtual machine maybe?

  12. #11
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    I think the best way to answer the VM questions is to tell my experience.
    I am the "IT" for friends and relatives. Remote access and TeamViewer may help but constant phone calls are still a hassle. Just ask my wife!
    I finally settle on VM. Has already installed 6 VM PCs. And 3 more on the way. So far, so good.
    One note: In VM I mean it to be 'Classical VM', such as using VMWare, Virtualbox, or Qemu, not Microsoft Virtual-XP. There is key difference. Later on this.

    All the 'older' VM PCs are XP 32-bit based. Hence, the max memory for the parent OS is about 3G (32-bit fundamental limit). On new ones, it is all Windows 7 64-bit (Home, Ultimate, version does not matter), all have 8G to 16G memory. Memory is cheap today, about US$50 for 8G-16G DDR3 types, perfect for VM, and Windows 7.

    XP as parent OS has the memory size limitation. As such, it could be slow if you run heavy duty software, or more than 2 guest Oses. In fact, some software will not install in guest OS simply because NOT enough electronic memory (SDram). Adobe Photoshop is one example. It needs more than 2G memory. XP can only have about 3G memory. The parent XP needs 60% of 3G for itself in the memory allocation. This limits XP-32-bit as a parent OS.

    That is, need to use 64-bit OS as parent OS.

    The basic system is Win7 64-bit, 8G-16G SDram, having as little installed software as possible in the parent (or mother) OS. Most software in it are portable apps, no installation needed. (Yes, there is even portable Firefox and Thunderbird.) This keeps mother OS clean and light. The guest OSes 'hard drives' are all in another physical hard drive. The mother OS physical drive is therefore clean and light. Meaning? Runs fast and boots up fast.

    Guess OSes are XP, Win98, and Linux. Yes, I myself need DOS and Win98. I have (originally) expensive software that can only run in Win98.

    Surprisingly, VM is not hard to use for my 'common users', which are amateurs: defined as able to surf the web, use programs, emailing, play video, know simple navigation and use Folder Explorer. And not much else. Yes, most of them can customize (personalize) desktop to some extent, such as background wall paper, etc. In fact, this is the number one thing they'd like to do first.

    One constant learning and relearning is accessing USB devices in Virtualbox. Seems locked access by Vbox causes some heartburn. Usually user forgets to unlock USB access in the Virtual OS. Mother OS then cannot access the specific USB device unless it is released by the Virtual OS. A disappeared USB device is a scary thought.

    The other difficulty is urging users to use Linux for web surfing (to avoid drive-by virus). The 'look and feel' is sufficiently different that users are uncomfortable. (It is user feedback! Please don't rage about how great Linux is ... because I agree with you but we are not 'common user'.)

    Backup is easy, I pre-create several snapshots on each and every guest OSes. In case of trouble, simply delete the current snapshot and they are good to go again. Seldom do I need remote access or TeamViewer. In fact, I no longer install VNC for remote access.

    The key to 'Classical VM' is old hardware compatibility.
    For a Win7 parent OS, your scanner, or printer, maybe obsolete: no driver available. Run Clasical VM with XP as guest OS, then the XP printer driver works! Note that this is NOT true if you run Microsoft Virtual-XP under Win7. In this case, MS V-XP accesses the old printer via Win7 driver. If the Win7 printer driver is not compatible, MS V-XP is powerless. The is the key why you need to run 'Classical VM'.

  13. #12
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    So boiled down, the friends and relatives under you administrations are running on the guest OS with the host basically just being the shell platform?

    So far I haven't had any problems installing anything on a 32-bit hosted guest OS, including Photoshop CS5 and a couple other editing programs as well as several large HD video editing programs (Studio HD ultimate, Nero Suite (Nero Video-though it stubbornly refused to give me a scrub window; works in preview though so I think they programmed in a key higher video element that the VM is not providing), VideoStudio, etc.).

    The more RAM the better yes, and it sounds like you don't have very demanding users but if you did, getting the VMs to SSDs has a higher return rate for performance than just popping up the RAM by 25, 50 or 100%. More expensive though.
    SSDs easily return more performance on 32-bit hosted systems than 64-bit hosted ones with more RAM but no SSD. Of course the best of both worlds is more RAM and SSD.

    And did you ever consider LINUX as the host for your common users? I tried it and it works quite well with Ubuntu and VMWarePlayer. Or do you think there would be problems? Save mucho buckeroos if they could. I only stopped using it because I couldn't stand entering my password every 3 minutes to do something but while on the VMs remotely everything was peachy keen.

  14. #13
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    VBox on Oneiric: A Tale of 2 Systems

    I'm sure you guys all have more serious computing needs than I do, but here's my 2 bits/user experience. I tend not to update every time something new comes along. That goes for HW & SW, alike. Without recounting the full litany of frustrations that impelled me, I can say that the fact that new versions of Windows spurn older hardware (like my daughter's 3-year-old laptop) drove me to try -- and to adopt -- linux. They say that learning a new OS helps stave off dementia. So, okay, that part didn't work, but Ubuntu 11.04 did install and run on both my daughter's 32-bit HP dual-core Centrino 2 GB and my 64-bit AMD quad core Phenom 8 GB equally well, equally effortlessly, and all devices worked without any fixes or tweaks. V-Box went on both systems effortlessly, and they both run Win2K and XP VM's simultaneously hosted on Linux. Frankly, after living with Ubuntu for awhile, I only fire up the Win systems to download SCUBA diving data off my dive computer (which only runs on Windows: no joy with Wine) and to use oldies but goodies like Image Composer. I'm sure there's some freebie photo/graphics program that does all the same stuff even better; I just haven't bothered to "shop" for it. Your experince could turn out to be hellish, but mine was a total piece of cake and the demand on resources has been modest enough not to have become a noticeable issue at all. Besides, those VM's running on the desktop -- they're so CUTE!. As a last plug for Linux: When my daughter's laptop achieved door-stop status, I was able to run Ubuntu "live" off the CD (yes, the whole shebang, including the office suite, fits on one CD), collect up all her school work and music and, and... and burn it to multiple DVD's -- all without ever actually installing Linux. That was the most painless back-from-the-brink experience I have had in years. Oh, yeah: and no cost or licensing issues.

  15. #14
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    No cost up front is definitely nice and each time I try Ubuntu it seems better and better; spot on for things already loaded and ready to go. Unfortunately to get more sophisticated it cost me a lot on the backside in the form of TIME. Just getting the LINUX version of VMWarePlayer installed and running cost about 45 minutes extra and a lot of googling to come up with the two command lines needed to make it work and then it was like OK, done finally, now back slowly away and don't touch anything else; its working!

    If the average user could easily install and run familiar high end Windows-type programs Microsoft would be in trouble because there really isn't anything wrong with the platform itself. I've been trying for 7 or 8 years now to make it work...and it keeps getting closer but seems to still have a long way to go to get mainstream.

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    I was able to run Ubuntu "live" off the CD (yes, the whole shebang, including the office suite, fits on one CD), collect up all her school work and music and, and... and burn it to multiple DVD's -- all without ever actually installing Linux. That was the most painless back-from-the-brink experience I have had in years.
    Yes, from a utility-wise standard, no doubt; covers all the bases on various formats and potential controller access issues. Parted Magic ISO is my number one tool for that.

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