So what do you do when your GNU/Linux can’t run the application that you need to use?
Solution: Run Windows in a virtual machine.
What’s a virtual machine?
A virtual machine is a separate computer that runs inside your current computer. It runs inside a program on your main operating system called a hypervisor. In my case, I use a program called VirtualBox. It creates a fake environment where you can install another operating system – for me, it is Windows 7 or 8.
Said another way, a virtual machine is a client computer running inside a program on your host computer.
For short-term Windows use, your best option is to download pre-configured virtual machines from Microsoft’s Modern.ie. Modern.ie is a site that allows web developers to download time-limited (90-days) virtual machines to use for testing websites on Microsoft browsers.
The virtual machines available on Modern.ie can also be used to test and use any software that runs on Windows.
If you need to run Windows over a longer term you will need to get a legitimate license. Students can check with their campus computer store for free or significantly discounted licenses. Home users can check with companies like Newegg.com for discounted original equipment manufacturer (OEM) versions of Windows which typically cost around $99.
I have used virtual machines for:
- Testing proprietary software for school – SMART Notebook
- Test installing software to see how it affects the operating system
- Using proprietary software not available on GNU/Linux like WebEx
- Logging in to my work terminal server via Remote Desktop
Here is a screenshot of my Ubuntu machine running three virtual machines:
- Windows 10 VM from Modern.ie
- Ubuntu 15.10 displaying a remote Windows terminal server instance
- Windows 8 installation (free from school – yay!)
Here is a YouTube video by a fellow named Quidsup. He shows you how to install Windows 10 inside VirtualBox.