I have a laptop I have been using for about 2 years now. Works decent for gaming, but I am going to hopefully build a PC soon for much better gaming performance. For school, I am taking classes which involve programs like Microsoft Project.

I have heard about Linux/Ubuntu for a while, but never really thought seriously about getting it.

If I did get it now, what would be the best combination of which OS should go on what device? If I used Ubuntu on either of them, how hard would dual booting be, so I could easily swap between them if needed? I don't really know much about how that works.

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    Running a secondary OS in a virtual machine (e.g. VirtualBox) is a good option... I started with Wubi, then had a dualboot, and eventually gave everything over to Ubuntu. I run multiple flavors of Windows in virtual machines and fire them up as needed (XP, Windows 7, 2008 Server, etc...). Having an SSD and enough RAM makes a big difference if you go down this route. For example, when I don't need the Windows machine, I don't completely shut it down, but save its state. When I need to run it again, it takes a few seconds to completely boot and be back to exactly where I left off. – Kendor Sep 16 '13 at 23:33
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    I recommend you edit your question and ask only one question per post – Braiam Sep 17 '13 at 1:30
  • Running a secondary OS in VirtualBox may be great if your hardware is great and your demands are not. The other way around? Not so much. My wife uses Quicken 2007, upgraded from Quicken MLXVI, which runs under Wine, so we don't find the need for any Windows in the family. If you have a demanding Windows application, you just might need to dual boot (and it kills me to say it). – Marc Sep 17 '13 at 2:11
  • @Braiam: Do you not think the two questions are related enough? The answer to the second question seems relevant to the first. – Sparhawk Sep 17 '13 at 2:46
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    @Sparhawk he ask for each system, new and old; he don't say what are the caracteristics of either of them; he ask if it's hard to dual boot. I think that last one is nothing related, but duplicated to several other questions. He needs to separate both: dualboot and flavor/combination recomendation and give more details about the second. – Braiam Sep 17 '13 at 2:50

The biggest issue I have with dual booting is the fact that a reboot is needed to run a program from the other OS. Which obviously include closing all your running applications, sometimes just to run a quick program in the other OS and then come back, having to reopen what was open before.

So, unless the program you need to run in Windows doesn't work from inside a VM (which might be the case for games, depending on the game and your hardware), I would recommend using a VM. That way you can keep your Ubuntu programs open and run the Windows programs you need, without having to reboot.

Often, you won't even need a VM. You can use WINE to run Windows programs from inside Linux, but a lot of programs don't work out of the box, and setting them up inside WINE may not be trivial. It's hard to say which solution would be best because it's highly dependent on which Windows programs you need to run, among other factors.

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    Even considering games, it's often worth trying to get them working with WINE with what you can find - based on my own anecdotal, purely subjective experience I can expect about 90% of the performance I'd get in Windows in WINE – jdphenix Sep 17 '13 at 0:54
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    @jdphenix My experience with WINE and games is that performance is generally pretty good, but sometimes games won't work at all. But definitely worth trying out! (Although hopefully the Steam revolution means this will soon be redundant.) – Sparhawk Sep 17 '13 at 0:55

Everyone here is going to say Ubuntu is great, of course! However, I'd recommend keeping Windows installed, until you are sure you can do without it (especially for Microsoft things, and possibly gaming).

Dual booting is slightly more irritating than a VM, since (as David Santos says), you have to reboot. It's not really that difficult to do, you essentially shutdown one OS and launch the other. I think if you really want to give Ubuntu/Linux a try, then you should install it as a dual boot. Ubuntu/Linux will run more efficiently than in a VM, and you won't be tempted to do too much in Windows.

If you dual boot and keep your Windows installation, there's not really a disadvantage to this over just having a single OS, apart from taking up disk space. Using Wubi might be another option, but IIRC there is a slightly efficiency boost to Ubuntu from this, so I never went down this road.

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