How to Run Linux on Windows without virtualization

What is virtualization

Virtualization is a mechanism that enables running a guest OS (For e.g.: Linux) on a host OS (For e.g.: Windows). Quite a few virtualization software are available to achieve this ( for example VMware and Virtualbox). Using these software saves time as there is no need to restart the computer in order to switch OS.

Introduction to andLinux

Virtualization however comes with a cost. The cost is not just hardware but also time to understand and configure a virtualization software.  To avoid such configuration hassle andLinux can be used. andLinux provides benefits of virtualization without virtualization software and without any complicated configuration. andLinux uses Cooperative Linux or coLinux in short. Colinux is the open source mechanism for running Linux on Windows natively and thus runs without virtualization software. Unlike other virtualization solutions like VMware, a special driver on the host operating system is used to execute the coLinux kernel in a privileged mode. It interfaces with emulated devices provided by the coLinux drivers in the host OS to access all the I/O devices.

Although this option would not be recommended for performance testing but it is still a are great option for development and functional testing of applications on windows machine without having to reboot or without virtualization products.

How to Run Linux on Windows without virtualization
 andLinux software can be installed on a windows based OS just like any other windows application. Once that’s done, installing any new package is very straightforward.  For example in case of Ubuntu Linux, type “sudo apt-get install XXX” where XXX is a package that is being installed. I have installed LAMP on my andLinux (sudo apt-get install php5 mysql-server apache2) and can host my website on this for local testing. Once development and testing is completed it can easily be  rsync ed to external web host.

For backup, copy the andLinux file which acts as a disk. Location and name of this file is specified in settings.txt.

andLinux configuration

Here is how the andLinux setup file looks like (settings.txt):

cofs31=”C:\Documents and Settings\admin\Desktop”

The first line shows the memory allocation for linux in MB. base.vdi is the file which should be backed up and it contains all the user applications. cofs31 allows sharing the windows drive onto linux ( SAMBA is also supported).

Increasing andLinux memory

Initially the size allocated on the disk is 2GB but it can quite easily expanded or increased as follows:

  1. Stop andLinux.
  2. From C:\Program Files\andLinux unzip to a new directory say C:\Program Files\andLinux\ImageResizeTool.
  3. From directory c:\program files\andlinux\imageresizetool\toporesize-0.7.1\ type tfile “c:\program files\andlinux\drives\base.vdi” XXXMB where XXX represent new size.
  4. Start andLinux again.
  5. As last step type sudo resize2fs /dev/cobd0 from linux commad prompt.

andLinux drawbacks

1. andLinux currently supports Ubuntu only.

2. andLinux lacks good documentation.

3 andLinux support forum, although not dead, is not very responsive.

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