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I have a new Win7 box and wanted to try out Ubuntu (total noob, no experience in linux). Which option will have the better performance (side by side, or in a vm). I'm guessing sidebyside, but figured I'd ask anyways.

My original intent was to create a quick/dirty way for kids to go online and not kill my pc with crap.

Thanks

Newb Nooberson III

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3 Answers 3

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There's pros and cons to either option. I don't actually suggest either... but we'll come to that.

Wubi is darned near a real install, with actual hardware access, but as its a image file inside a real filesystem , it can occationally get corrupted.

VMs are reliable and do snapshots, but there's nothing stopping your kids from switching over to windows, and you don't have access to things like the graphics card.

I'd suggest a USB install - of which there's two types - unetbootin will give you a platform agnostic liveusb, with a persistant portion for changes. A full install of ubuntu can also be done to a suitably set up liveusb. Both options give you a reasonably fast install of ubuntu that can be set up to leave the main hard drive alone

There's some things i'd do with any install - Don't give the kids the admin user password (that is to say the password you use with sudo), so they can't install or break anything. Give them an individual account per kid (and since they are limited accounts, you can set it that they can't break anything), or better yet, a personal thumbdrive with the environment set up for them. Periodically image the whole USB drive ( I use usb image writer on windows quite a bit. dd would do the trick in linux) or at copy the persistant parts of the install.

I'd note personally, while i recommend limited accounts (on any os!) any kid who breaks into the admin account has earned it ;p.

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Thanks guys for the responses. –  thad Jul 4 '12 at 21:41
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From my experience with my own kids I can tell that they are most likely not happy with the performance a virtual machine offers (kids rarely read Wikipedia when they go online).

As long as they only play online games or games natively supported by Ubuntu (see the Software Center and also the Humble Bundle games for that) they will be more than happy with a Ubuntu only box. This can very easily be administrated and restored with (frequent!) backups in case they break things (mine did not so far).

I would recommend to do that in a dual-boot setup where you can deny Windows access by simply not giving them a Windows user/password.

The time will come when they desperately need to play a Windows game. This will most likely not perform well in a virtual machine. Then you will need to secure your Windows installation before you grant them access. For Windows there are many parental control and sandbox solutions available that may help you.

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Hear hear! This is the practical answer that will probably be most helpful in reality, so @thad please do consider upvoting and accepting it in the near future! –  izx Jun 26 '12 at 8:47
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Disclaimer: I don't have kids, and pet dogs and cats have been known walk across my keyboards trying to trigger a Ctrl-Alt-Del (REIS... for the Linux folks), but anyway, here goes! :)

Definitely virtual machine, assuming you can set it so they can't "escape" to the host.

Take known-good snapshots, revert whenever something goes (or is made to go ;) wrong.

Wubi may be dangerous kid-wise because it will mount your NTFS (Windows 7) partitions r-w by default...

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Cool, that's what I was thinking. Thanks for the reminder on setting a good restore point. –  thad Jun 26 '12 at 2:46
    
A virtual machine snapshot is different than a Windows restore point -- much easier to make, and even easier to reset! –  izx Jun 26 '12 at 2:49
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