Saturday, March 20, 2010

One computer, three operating systems

While so far I have been quite happy with my new MacBook Pro, running Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard), I still feel more comfortable with the Ubuntu Linux programming environment I have been using for the past few years. Moreover, to make sure that my software (e.g., 3DNA) is strictly ANSI C compliant, and compiles without changes on the most commonly used operating systems (OSes), I need to have direct access to Linux and Windows. Luckily, the Intel-based hardware architecture of MacBook Pro and the free VirtualBox software make it possible to have the three OSes – Mac OS X, Ubuntu Linux, and Windows – in one computer.

Installing VirtualBox on Mac OS X was a snap. Specifically, I added the following two guest OSes:
  1. Windows XP, with 1 GB RAM and 70 GB (virtual) hard disk
  2. Ubuntu 9.10, with 2 GB RAM and 90 GM disk space
For seamless integration between each of the two guest OSes and the host Mac OS X, and for improved performance, I also created shared folders and installed guest additions for Windows and Linux. For Windows XP, the process had been quite straight forward. For Linux guest addition, however, I had some problems and solved them by following the instructions on "How To Install VirtualBox Guest Additions in Linux".

Now in Fullscreen Mode (command-F), I can run Ubuntu Linux or Windows XP as if it is native for each. Very cool!