If you’ve never tried virtual machines, now is the time. Are you a PC gamer intrigued by the stability, bug-resistance, and open-source ethics Linux has to offer? Set up your physical computer as a Linux machine, and run Windows on a virtual machine. Or, keep your physical computer as a Windows machine, and add a virtual Linux machine to play with and see what you’re getting into. Virtual machine software is a perfect tool for learning any software that you’re worried might disturb your working PC. You can experiment with BIOS settings, practice formatting drives, and find out exactly what you can delete from the registry without a risk of damage to your working computer.
To get started using virtual machines, you need a computer with internet access so you can download the virtual machine software. You need memory and disc space for every OS you are running; you may need to clear space out, upgrade your memory, or get another drive. You need licensed software to install on your virtual machine, like you would on a physical machine. Have your installation discs and registration codes handy; you may want to make installation discs into ISO files for quick and easy installation.
There are versions that cost money, mostly developed for large corporate environments, but a lot of virtual machine software is free. This type of software creates a completely separate computer, with it’s own software settings and ip address, within the computer you already have. The program Windows Virtual PC, which is put out by Microsoft, is a good choice if you only plan to run windows on your virtual machine; it runs Windows fast and well. However, it doesn’t work very well for other operating systems. Another good program is called Virtual Box, which is open source and runs a variety of operating systems well.
Whatever program you choose, virtual machines are a great way to learn about operating systems and other important software. It is a great low-cost way to have the benefit of several machines while only having the hardware for one.