I've been playing around with Ubuntu only for some short time and I really enjoyed it. I want to buy a new laptop, and the thing is, although I have mac at work and it's great to work with, I don't want to pay 2500e for a new laptop. I'd rather pay half and spend the rest on a trip to the Caribbean.

So, I was wondering if I could buy a powerful PC (maybe i5 or i7 quad core and 16G of RAM) and use something stable and fast like Ubuntu as my main OS, with Windows 7 setup in VirtualBox.

I need windows because I will still need to use FlashDevelop (only on windows) and Adobe Flash IDE and maybe Adobe Fireworks (Although I could get use to GIMP instead). So how about if I dedicated at least 6G of ram to a virtual machine with windows for when I need to develop projecs with this software?

Will it run fast enough?


VirtualBox is a good solution to have occasional access to Windows, or to be able to quickly run a Windows application without having to reboot. It is also a good solution whenever you need to rapidly share your data from a Windows, and from an Ubuntu application.

But there are some drawbacks from a virtual machine. As it is true that the performance of mere data processing applications or editors will be more than sufficient given the specs of your machine this is not true for graphic intense applications.

I have no experience how much the flash development tools make use of your graphics card but I suspect they do a lot. In this case you may not be happy with the somewhat sluggish performance in a virtual machine. It may be good enough for testing, but probably not for application development, where it is also critical to not introduce bugs from the virtualization environment.

Therefore I would go for a dual-boot setup where you boot Windows for development, and Ubuntu for safety.

But I might be wrong, it may be that VirtualBox performs good enough for you, and on your individual machine. You need to test this, really. Intall Ubuntu as dual-boot with your presumably already preinstalled Windows. It is not much of an effort to also install Virtual Box to run Windows in Ubuntu 1 . In case you are happy with the performance, just leave Windows sitting there for an occasional boot, or remove it later.

1 Note that for running an additional Windows in Virtual Box you will need a separate own licence.

  • Thanks I'll give it a try. Although I've already read quite a few posts of people complaining about adobe products on virtual machines so I'm not very optimistic about it :) – Sebastian Gomis Feb 4 '13 at 12:37
  • @SebastianGomis: thank you for accepting, but don't forget to upvote the other answer, I think its a good one too ;) – Takkat Feb 4 '13 at 13:04
  • Yeah I tried, but since I don't have enough reputation it's not allowed. – Sebastian Gomis Feb 4 '13 at 14:15
  • About the license issue, a small tip. :) Windows provides a pretty good evaluation period which you can extend up to 180 days. Plenty of time to first try things out and see if it suites your needs in a VM before you waste one of your license keys! – Gladen Mar 26 '14 at 20:57

I would rather say that the better option is to use dual boot GRUB (Ubuntu/Windows) -- especially if you consider doing so for a longer period of time.

The 3D acceleration provided by virtualbox is rather basic and you would be far better off using a faster GPU on Windows where it is fully supported (especially with DirectX). Another thing is the fact that you would need a full box license of Windows to run it in virtualbox. Most laptops come with OEM version that wouldn't be sufficient in the legal terms.

In other words, it is possible, however as with gaming through virtualbox -- it's still better to use a normal installation of Windows for it.

  • Thanks for your advice. Although I wouldn't be using windows for gaming but for programming and basic graphic design. However I guess your option is still a better idea – Sebastian Gomis Feb 4 '13 at 11:25

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