Setting Up Virtual Machines On a Dual-Boot System

Dual Boot

If you have only one HDD drive or you have different drives for each OS but you don’t disconnect the unused ones, then a compromised OS can access the data in the partitions of the other OSs. Say OS A is compromised, then an attacker can mount partition from OS B, modify the OS B and compromise it too (Remember that protection over files is given only by the running OS, as OS A doesn’t have to protect files from OS B the attacker can change them)

To protect against this you could encrypt both volumes so an attacker can’t mount the other OS partition, but the attacker may be able to damage it anyway

If you have one HDD drive per OS and you physically disconnect the unneeded ones, then an attacker needs some kind of firmware malware to go from OS A to OS B. This is extremely unlikely, not only cause firmware malware are very rare and difficult to develop, additionally the attacker should previously know information about OS B in order to develop a firmware malware that can successfuly compromise it

Things to consider in Dual Boot Vs Virtual Machine decision

We now have a basic understanding of dual boot and virtual machine processes. Before settling on the right one for you, consider the following aspects.

Set-Up

Although not impossible, dual booting is more difficult than using a virtual machine. To install the operating system, you’ll need to build a partition and use a bootable device.

Related: Install Windows 10 From a USB Drive

Furthermore, an error or dispute could occur during the installation of the new operating system. Overall, dual-booting necessitates more care and is more subject to error.

All you need to get started in a virtual machine setup is virtual machine software and the OS ISO file as we discussed earlier. The best part is that you can run operating systems with as many profiles as you like.

Computer Hardware configutation

When running, an operating system in a computer uses a large amount of CPU capacity and RAM power. It becomes impossible to manage things when running a virtual machine on an underpowered old computer.

It may fail to run both operating systems concurrently in that condition. It is also recommended to use dual boot in a computer with a low hardware configuration.

In a dual boot configuration, one operating system can receive full hardware support.

Furthermore, some CPU or GPU resource-hogging programs, such as video editing, 3D animation, gaming, or photo editing applications, can not work properly in a virtual environment, even on a computer with a high-end hardware configuration.

As a result, it is preferable to use and run these programs in a dual boot setup.

Do you have SSD or HDD on your computer?

SSD (Solid State Drive) is much faster than HDD (Hard Disk Drive). A machine with an SSD can perform fast shutdown and restarts. As a result, an SSD system is best suited for a dual boot configuration.

Restating an HDD can take 5-10 minutes or more, and switching from one operating system to another is a time-consuming process.

Go with Virtual Machine if your device with HDD has a decent hardware setup. It is extremely useful when switching between different applications on different operating systems.

Are you using different operating systems at a time?

Another thing to consider when comparing Dual Boot vs Virtual Machine is how much time you spend using an operating system.

As previously mentioned, virtual machine setup is beneficial for people who use several operating systems at the same time.

A virtual machine is suitable for multitasking because it helps you to switch between operating systems with a single click.

However, it is not a good idea for those who spend a lot of time in a virtual machine environment using a single operating system.

Assume you are a native Windows user who is running Ubuntu Linux in a virtual machine to access special applications.

In this case, if you want to use Ubuntu for longer periods, it is better to use it in dual boot mode. If you are willing to compromise time to restart, you will be able to operate at the system’s highest performance.

Want to use a specific app in the secondary OS

This is the condition in which you use the native operating system for all of your programs and only occasionally use the secondary OS for a particular program. The dual boot would be a nightmare for you.

If you are a native Mac user and want to use Windows for a particular program, such as Photoshop, for a short time, a virtual machine is preferable to a dual boot setup.

The same is true when using a virtual machine to compare various operating systems. It is not a good idea to use the dual boot to test an operating system.

When compared to dual boot, here in the virtual machine, installing and removing various operating systems is a very simple process.

Security

When we test operating systems or other applications, we face the risk of infecting the native operating system with malware.

In a virtual machine, the installation and operation take place in a sandboxed environment, with no possibility of intrusion on the native operating system.

Malware, on the other hand, can attack the hard disc and the native OS directly in dual boot mode. When compared to malware removal in a dual boot machine, removing malware in a virtual machine is a simple operation.

Related: Do You Know About Important Computer Viruses And Their Types?

Saving and Sharing of files and OSs

Another benefit of Virtual Machine is the ease with which files can be shared between operating systems.

So, if you need to share a large number of files between native and guest operating systems, or between virtual OSs, you can use a virtual machine.

A virtual machine can also be used to save a snapshot of a guest OS as a separate file.

This feature is very useful when we want to run this OS on a different machine or when we want to restore the previous good working state of that OS after an error occurs.

Dual Boot vs Virtual Machine: Summary

We’ve seen that both methods have advantages and disadvantages. The usage decision is solely decided by our application and device configuration.

In this context, we’d like to summarise the following points.

  • When compared to a virtual machine, installation in a dual boot is a tedious and time-consuming operation.
  • Dual boot is better suited for computers with simple system configurations. It does not rule out the possibility of dual-booting in high-end systems.
  • Good hardware configurations are needed for virtual machine systems.
  • The virtual machine is not recommended for resource-intensive high-end applications.
  • In a virtual machine setup, file sharing between operating systems is possible.
  • A virtual machine can create or save snapshots of virtual operating systems, which can then be run on a different virtual setup without the need for the original machine.
  • If you want more computing resources than the interchangeability of operating systems and files, dual boot is the way to go.

Video

Running the installation

Now we are finally ready to install Ubuntu on the virtual machine! First we need to start the virtual machine by selecting it in the left-hand menu and then by clicking the start button at the top.

No bootable medium found? No problem!

You may encounter the error no bootable medium found. It is very easy to fix, simply click devices > IDE (primary master) > Ubuntu … iso to ensure that the virtual disk is inserted.

Then click machine > Reset to reboot the virtual machine.

Enlarge the screen

Enlarge the screen

The first thing you may notice once Ubuntu begins to boot is that the screen is tiny. We will correct the graphics at a later point in the installation but for now we can temporarily enlarge it so we are not squinting at the screen!

Simply click view > virtual screen 1 from the menu bar at the top and choose a size that you are comfortable with. I generally find 200% works just fine.

Choosing a keyboard layout

Go ahead and click on install Ubuntu to begin the installation. First we need to select our keyboard layout. Generally we will want to select English (US) to match the layout of our Mac keyboard. Once you have chosen go ahead and click continue.

Updates and other software

Next we have some options for updates and other software. You should choose either normal installation or minimal installation depending on what you want to use Ubuntu for.

I only want to run a couple of Linux-only programs on this installation, therefore I will be choosing minimal installation.

I would however recommend that you leave download updates while installing Ubuntu checked to ensure that everything is up to date when you finish the installation.

Erasing the drive

On the next screen we are given the opportunity to change options for the installation type. We can leave this set to the default erase disk and install Ubuntu, so go ahead and just click Install Now.

You will be given a final prompt, referencing some partitions to the hard drive. Go ahead and click continue.

Set the timezone

Next we can go ahead and choose the correct timezone for the machine. For me the default is correct, but you can go ahead and change it if you need to.

Set your machine credentials

Now we can go ahead and enter the credentials for the machine. You can choose a name for yourself and the computer as you prefer. Enter a password and choose whether you wish to log in automatically or require a login password.

Completing the installation

Whilst we were entering the timezone and credentials, Ubuntu has been working hard in the background to install all of the necessary files. We just need to wait for this to complete if it has not done so already.

Once the installation has completed, we can go ahead and restart our virtual box.

When you are prompted to remove the installation media, just press enter as virtual box will have already removed the installation media.

If you need to manually remove it, on the menu bar at the top click devices > optical drive > IDE (primary/secondary) and ensure the Ubuntu image is not ticked.

Congratulations! Ubuntu should now boot to the desktop! There are however a few more things that we need to do in order to complete the installation.

Which One is Better?

Two methods can be used to boot multiple operating systems on a single machine. You can set up your computer to have dual (or multiple) boot capability, or you can also use a virtual machine to emulate another operating system. So, which one is better?

The answer depends on your needs and preferences. Let’s look at the benefits and issues for both methods.

Dual Boot

When it comes to dual boot, here’s what we mean: completely separate operating systems on different partitions of your hard drive, other hard drives, or removable media. Once the system starts up one OS, the computer and its hardware are wholly dedicated to it.

This works well if you have a computer without a lot of memory or processing power. It means all of the computer’s resources are dedicated to just the environment you boot up in. You can still have decent to great performance with each OS installed.

There are some distinct disadvantages of using the dual-boot method. Probably the biggest negative is the time it takes to switch from one environment to another. You must shut down the computer and reboot it anytime you wish to make the change. This can cause a great deal of inconvenience.

Another problem is that you will not have the ability to work in both systems simultaneously. While this may not be a problem for the casual user, it may make it difficult to compare and record results as a developer or tester.

Virtual Machine

Using a VM is like running a computer in a window within your computer. Virtual machines are powerful and give you many options. You can be working in your host machine’s OS while another virtual machine is running separately in a window on your desktop. This makes it easy to switch back and forth to test or perform any functions you need.

You can also run more than one virtual machine, but it may require a powerful computer to do so. Virtual machines can also be created quickly; if you’re no longer using them, it’s easy to delete them.

If you have a specific configuration you need to test with, you can create a base machine, then clone it whenever you need a new one. Once the VM gets cluttered or corrupted, you destroy it and clone another one. Working with virtual machines does not require rebooting your device. Instead, you run a hypervisor, which runs the VM and instructs it to start the OS you wish to use.

There are some disadvantages to using VMs. For one thing, they often require a lot of horsepower. You will need lots of disk space, memory, and processing power. Each VM you create can take up a substantial amount of disk space, which adds up if you create multiple instances. Any data you create and save on the virtual machine will also add to the host machine’s disk space.

Since VMs use and share the host machine’s resources, they can be slow and even on occasion freeze up—especially when trying to run more than one at a time. They may also slow down the host machine itself. For these reasons, VMs do require a good deal of management and administration.

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