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Running Linux on Windows

If you are interested in running Linux on/inside windows and haven't yet got there, then Virtual Machine software is the way to go. Virtual Machine software creates a virtualized environment on an operating system. This environment resembles a machine that is virtual in nature. This does not require any change in the existing disk partition. A separate operating system can be deployed on this virtual machine, thus running an OS on/inside another OS. Check the below screenshots and this will make more sense.

There are quite a number of softwares available, including some open source utilities. I chose to try out only the freely available options. I also tried Microsoft's VPC to run Linux, unfortunately I found some issues to make things work and Linux support for VPC is yet to gain popularity. So two methods that I use and recommend - Vmware and Topologilinux. It deserves to be mentioned that these methods are not for learning or basic testing purpose only, there are companies that are using these options to run multiple platforms simultaneously on a single machine. The Virtual Machines can run heavy duty databases and applications. Virtual resources such as Memory and hard disk can be altered as needed.

This writeup concentrates on using Linux for personal use, testing is done mainly on Fedora Core Linux, and to some extent on slackware and Ubuntu Linux.


Topologilinux is based on one of the original distro - slackware Linux. Topologilinux uses CoLinux engine. CoLinux allows Microsoft windows to cooperate with Linux kernel, to run both in parallel on the same machine. Colinux gives both OSs complete control of the host machine.

How Does it Look?
Check the screenshots.

Topologilinux Command line interface

How to get it?
Download the CD image from .

How to install?


VMWare company specializes in Virtual Machine solutions. VMWare creates edition that are commercially sold. Fortunately they recently came out with a free edition, called VMWare Player, meant for personal use. This is a lovely piece of software allowing us to run a wide range of platform. The best part is you can simply share the disk files with others. For instance, if I have a redhat Linux virtual machine on my pc, I can simply copy it to another machine and bring it up, all required is the VMWare software.

How does it look?
Check the screenshots.
VMWare GUI Console

How to get it?
Download and install the VMWare player (includes open source) from .

Preinstalled Images
For a quick start, you can download various VMWare images (Linux preinstalled). This is the most easiest option. Install VMWare Player, simply download the files for your choice of flavour and run Linux; yes it is as simple as that! Images are available for Debian, Gentoo, CentOS, Ubuntu, Fedora Core, Mandrake, FreeBSD, Suse, slackware and many other flavours. Take a pick. One such site is

How to install?
If you want to create a machine from scratch, do the below:-
Interacting with outside world
VMWare creates a virtual Network card that talks to the base Operating system network card (Natting or Bridging). This way we can access the outside world from Linux operating system. Apart from the VM console, we can also make use of telnet or SSH tools to connect to Linux and work, consider this as working on a Linux server that is hosted somewhere on your network. If preference is for a GUI, VM Console provides GUI desktop access. Alternatively VNC software can be installed for a full fledged graphical access (check screenshots). You can also use Cygwin Xserver to run Linux utilities right on windows! For sharing files between Linux and Windows, FTP can be used. Much easier method is to deploy Samba and share files using windows explorer.

Concerned about performance or resource usage? Try the options to find out.
How much it costs? Free as in freedom.
What I recommend from the above? Go for VMWare player, Topologilinux has some hurdles that will require expertise.

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This page was created on 02-may-2007. Last updated on 03-dec-2007.
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