Saturday, April 19, 2008

Ah, non-destructive Linux fun

Being the tech geek that I am, I find myself constantly driving Denita nuts by tinkering with the computers at home.

One of my favorite things to do is mess around with is other O/Ses (Linux being one of my favorite to play with). Unfortunately, Vista does not often play well with dual-booting.

It seems that Micro$oft decided to completely change the boot/MBR files for Vista, making it a pain to setup dual-boots when Vista is already installed. This has seriously limited my tinkering fun... until earlier yesterday.

I ran across a video (bad me, I did not save the link) through Stumbleupon that took me to the Wubi website.

This little gem of a program makes installing Linux about as easy as it gets. You don't have to mess with setting up partitions, Wubi sets up Linux in a virtual drive on your standard Windows drive. You don't get the speed hit you can sometimes get running under virtualization software (such as VMWare) because the virtual drive is accessed at boot by Linux like a regular drive instead of running under Windows. Wubi also sets up a dual-boot menu through Windows so you don't have to even bother with boot loader program like GRUB.

However, Wubi is NOT for those who lack a high-speed internet connection. The install process downloads a Linux install CD-ISO and then quickly sets up the OS for you. The process is many times faster than a standard install from a CD. In fact, you should be up and running in Linux in about ten to fifteen minutes, after the ISO downloads.

You are limited to the Ubuntu flavored distributions however. Several build versions of Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Xubuntu are available at this time, and it is just a matter of selecting which one you want during installation (and no, for the uber-geek, Wubi does not support simultaneous installs of multiple distros).

In all the time I have kicked around O/Ses, this has to be the smoothest installer I have ever used. All you need is a minimum of about 5 GB of free space on your drive, and you are good to go.

For those of you who have been curious about Linux, but did not want to hassle with setting up partitions, this is a great route to take. Note, that Wubi IS beta software. Be sure to backup anything important before using it.

Also, if you have multiple systems with the same hardware configuration, you can just copy over the virtual drive file and not have to spend any extra time patching and installing beyond the base install. On top of the ease of installation, you can uninstall Linux through the Wubi uninstall program.