I don't want this to turn into an argument about linux/windows. Please try to answer this objectively

I'm getting a new hard drive today and my current setup (on this machine) is running Windows with Linux in a VirtualBox virtual machine. I am wondering if I could achieve better performance/compatibility if I ran Linux with Windows in a virtual machine, as there are some Ubuntu features that do NOT work in a virtual machine (such as playing fullscreen games). Are there some Windows features that would NOT work if I ran Windows in a virtual machine? Which setup is better? Running Linux in a virtual machine; or Windows in a virtual machine?

  • I realize posting here may be slightly biased because it's an Ubuntu forum, but if I posted in a Windows forum it would be biased towards windows. Please keep this discussion subjective, and try to be as un-biased towards one or the other as possible. – bbosak Jul 2 '11 at 14:26
  • It would be hard to get a non-objective answer in Stack Exchange site like Ask Ubuntu. Unlike forums, it doesn't give much room for discussion. Just sayin'. – Oxwivi Jul 2 '11 at 18:06

Actually, neither is better.

Either way you twist it, running in a virtual machine gives a serious performance and feature penalty for either OS, and for the native OS it also steals resources. Your best bet is to dual boot, and only when you have to, run either one in a virtual machine on the other.

  • Good idea, except the dual-boot won't work for me (reboot penalty), but I'll experiment and see how it turns out; to see which one performs better, and minimize the feature and performance penalty. – bbosak Jul 2 '11 at 14:43

There isn't better setup, there is just setup that you will like more. And since everyone likes different things...

About features... probably only playing games in fullscreen and maybe some hw ( if you have some that wont work in linux ). Performance, you didn't mentioned your hardware, so we cannot tell.

If you have time, you can try both for some time just to see what fits you better.


I vote for Ubuntu host + Windows guest... but as others have mtnioned depends on what your day-to-day is like.

I started with Windows and Wubi (didn't want to muck with my Windows set up), then switched to dual boot. I eventually killed the dual boot and started running Windows under VirtualBox only. My business requires me to have access to Windows apps and frankly still like to use Photoshop and MS Office.

The key for me was being able to do most of my day-to-day without running a virtual machine. Cloud-based/browser apps helped me quite a bit. I also use Crossover to run MS Office apps inside of Ubuntu w/o virtualization, which has worked great. I now fire up Windows only when I need to, and can easily have it running in the background. Because of Ubuntu my machine starts up quickly and am not encumbered by Windows stuff (e.g. anti virus, anti spyware/malware etc...).

I have 8 GB of RAM and regularly run virtual machines with XP and Windows 2003 server under 10.10 64 bit (I use VMware for the 2003 Server). RAM helps. This set up works well for me, in spite of the performance hit for things like full motion video/audio, which I mostly do in Ubuntu, but sometimes can't avoid using Windows.


If you're really interested in maximizing your productivity, your VMhost OS should be the OS that boots and reboots the quickest on your particular machine. That's where most of your "dead time" is spent on any given day. Rarely will you ever be slowed down significantly for other operations like file saves, compiles, image loads, file downloads--because you multitask. Most people read/edit/browse something else while they wait for resource-intensive operations.

If you use the Linux OS more than the Windows OS then using Linux as the host is definitely better, because there will be little overhead for all your Linux tasks and your Windows VM will fire up much more quickly than if you had to reboot to it. Most desktop environments use a fraction of the available processing, memory, and hard-drive resources, so any speed penalty for virtual-boxing them has a negligible impact on your productivity. Because your hardware is already initialized and configured, booting a guest OS (windows or linux) is so fast you probably won't get time to sip your coffee before getting back to work.

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