While I don't believe it is quite ready for prime time, it gets close with every release. By prime time, I of course mean, will I have to support it. I have tried to talk my parents into it, but only half-heartedly; I know I'll have to do more than I already do.
Since I started using Ubuntu I have also been using VirtualBox extensively. Originally, it was just for work, i.e. no one seems to allow the easy integration of linux distros onto their network. I say that based on just my experience, which is not extensive. There are also certain work related tools that only run on Windows.
Here's the short list of tools that I use that require Windows:
- GoToMeeting - I love the tool, from a collaboration perspective. I hate that I have to use Windows to use it. Fortunately, I always have 1 or more Windows VMs up and running.
- Neoview Management Tools - this doesn't matter much anymore, but it was one of the original reasons.
- Quicken - I haven't moved to the cloud version yet. I probably will. Soon.
Wow. I think that might be it. Cisco VPN used to be a reason until I found vpnc. That's really not too bad. I could be down to 1, GoToMeeting. I did find that Adobe has a product that is OS independent, pretty sure it uses Flash. Definitely a future consideration...
I don't game, at all, so I have no need for Windows there.
The reason I virtualize? Compartmentalization.
- Last year, while on site at a client, my Windows VM got corrupted. I was back up and running within 2 hours. If that had been my host system, I am sure it would have taken much, much longer. I only put the software on the VMs that I need. Nothing more, nothing less. Windows Office. Notepad++. WinMerge. SQL Developer. Maybe a few others specific to the client.
I don't store any data on the VMs, I use Shared Folders and write to my host disks. If I lose one, no big deal.
- Single Unit of Work. I can create a VM with an Oracle database, one with OBIEE, one with Subversion and a Wiki (ok, not a single unit of work, whatever). Since the purchase of my new computer, this is my reality. If I lose one of those VMs, I don't lose all the work I put into them. I just rebuild the one I need. Annoying, yet. Catastrophic, no.
If I built a single system with all of these components, tools, etc, the loss of my computer would be catastrophic, even with the best backup policy in the world.
- Finally, there was last night's incident. I have a large VM (12 GB RAM allocated, 4 processors) for this medicaid database I am putting together. I had a 20 GB OS partition. At some point, VirtualBox decides to write that RAM to disk, all 12 GB of it. Space available: 0 (zero) bytes. I couldn't do anything. OpenOffice kept telling me I had no more space to auto-save, had to kill it. This even after I pointed 99% of the settings files away from the OS partition.
I tried symbolic links. I was successful with the Desktop, but nothing else. I tried, very unsuccessfully to point /dev/shm, /dev/pts, /var/run and /var/lock to a different location. If I had a better understanding of how the OS works, it might not have been a big deal, but for me...
Since you can't expand a partition (please don't tell me you can), I decided to just wipe the host OS and re-partition my drives appropriately. Total time* to get everything back up and configured? 3 hours. VirtualBox was easy, pull in the vdi files, create a new VM and voila, everything is back to normal.
* Total Time = Does not include the fact that the first USB Flash Drive I was using didn't work properly. I spent 4+ hours trying to get GParted to work to no avail. Research pointed to the possibility of using a different one. I went to BestBuy, bought a new one and everything went smooth. By the way, to add to this frustrating day, my battery died at BestBuy. Awesome.