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I recently got a pre-installed Windows 8 system. I wish to dual boot it with ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS but after reading the thread, I'm doubtful of the idea. I can do the stated procedure but i don't want to spoil the pre-installed Windows 8, i am scared that i might accidentally harm my system.

Now, what i really meant to ask is if running ubuntu on VirtualBox is a good idea? The system is 4 Gigs RAM, and an entry level core i5 processor. Would the virtual machine be too taxing on my system?

I only wish to code on ubuntu, as it is much easier to do so on ubuntu than Windows, nothing too heavy, just basic problem solving. I know i can code on Windows 8 as well but i like nix-like system, and also the gedit. However, if virtualization doesn't work, i am willing to dual boot ubuntu.

I am thinking about allocating something like 512 MB RAM to ubuntu and 20 Gigs of HDD, as Windows 8 alone without much heavy processes takes up 1.5 Gigs.

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You can totally do that and it is quite safe, although 512Mb is a bit on the low side. Or, actually, a lot on the low side :) On a 4Gb host machine I would give Ubuntu at least 2Gb - that is, if you want GUI, gedit and everything. If you only want shell access then 512Mb or even less would be fine.

Also, a 32-bit guest would perform better in such low-RAM situation.

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Just to add this: the RAM used by a VM is only used while running and immediately freed again after terminating the VM. You can also change the RAM assigned to a VM at any time. In case performance is less than expected you can easily deinstall VirtualBox and then do a dual boot installation as a second option. – Takkat Jan 3 '13 at 15:19
Virtual Machines memory is quite different than real one, specially if the host is linux. When your VM starts swapping, it doesn't automatically mean that it will hit the real disk, usually it will be using the file caches on the host memory. What I mean is that VMs can run with lower memory than real ones, and that allocating lower amounts of memory will let the host manage it's own memory better. – Javier Rivera Jan 4 '13 at 8:13
@JavierRivera: that's an interesting idea, I haven't thought of this... thanks! – Sergey Jan 4 '13 at 8:46

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