Running several OS in one machine (and using it as a backup system)

As I read Laforja's problem, I will share my experience on this topic.

There are several ways to run "old" or "classic" programs letting XP and vista live together.

a) Dual Boot

Dual Boot consists on:
1. Partitioning your disk into several partitions, installing each OS in a different partition and
2. Using a "partition selector" or boot loader to let you decide when you start your computer, what OS you want to run.

  • Partition Managing:
You can find different partition managers in this article. Choose one and it will let you partition, resize and assign types to your partitions, as well as getting them (in)visible to install different operating systems.
  • Boot Selection:
Windows Vista has re-engineered Microsoft traditional NT Boot loader NTLDR and replaced it by Windows Boot Manager. This article from Microsoft gives an overview of Boot Configuration Data.
Anyway in this article, you can find a comparison of boot loaders. I suggest you to use one compatible with Windows Vista. I've tried some of them, but, up to now, never tried with Windows Vista.
  • Co-llateral advantage
An additional advantage of dual booting is the possibility to use it as fast backup system. I usually install the same OS in two twin partitions A and B. I work, play and experiment in partition B, install lots of software and only when I chose something and I am sure it is good, I boot A and install that sw also. Whenver partition B get currupted (or infected) I just copy A over B and start again.

b) Virtualization

Virtualization allows you to run more than one OS at the same time in the same machine. The advantage is that you don't have to dedicate the computer to the "guest" OS and you don't need to reboot. The disadvantage is all the OS will compete for and share the same resources.

Virtualization consists on running a program called Virtual Machine on your "host" operating system. The virtual machine emulates a standardized PC and, on top of this PC you can install (almost) any "guest" operating system you want (I've tried DOS, Win3.1, Win95, Win98, XP, Linux, BeOS, Mac...).

Good and free virtual machines are Microsoft Virtual PC and VMWare Server and Player (VMWare Workstation is more efficient and has more features, but it is not free). I've tried all of them running Windows XP (as guest) on top of Windows Vista and they run smoothly (though Virtual PC need a flavour higher than Vista Basic). But please, take into account, the "virtual" machine is not your "real" machine but a standardized one, which won't offer the guest OS a 3D Graphics accelerator card even in case you do have a real one. So, if you will play 3D accelerated games, maybe you will prefer dual boot.

These are not the only Virtual Machines you can find, you may also experiment with Bochs, Xen, etc... but I recommend you to start with Virtual PC and VMWare.

c) Emulation

If you just need to run a DOS game, a simple solution is running DOSBox.

And in case you just want to play classic adventure games, like Lucas Arts's or Sierra's, SCUMMVM is your solution.

Hope it helps...


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4 comentarios

  • astuledano
    14 de enero 19:10

    that multiboot system should work on phones

  • draknan
    26 de agosto 18:24

    ¡Mira, un mono con tres cabezas! :D

  • ana maria llopis
    05 de agosto 10:05

    Good morning thanks for your idea. I just visited the site and 10 ideas were there up and running to congratulate my birthday from different cities of the world

  • jetzimoon
    05 de agosto 06:57

    Estoy de acuerdo en que es una gran idea. Yo por mi parte aplique esta solucion a mi PC cansado de llamar al tecnico cada vez que un virus entraba a mi pc puenteando el antivirus. Simplemente instale el mismo OS en el disco "D", de manera que cuando la particion que estoy usando comienza con problemas inicio el sistema desde la otra y limpio el virus de la particion infectada.

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