Over the last month, I have had to do a lot of software testing and I have had to install Linux, Windows XP, and even Windows98, a few times on Virtual PC 2007. Undeniably I have come to some conclusions on operating system installs and Virtual PC as a testing tool. Without a doubt Virtual PC has too many flaws to be the testing tool I wanted it to be. Microsoft has taken Connectix’s Macintosh product and made it into a virtualization tool for Windows users who want to install all different flavors of Windows on their PC, but in doing so they have not improved on the product as one would imagine they would.
- 16-bit color is still really the optimal choice for most virtual machines. This is something that you run into right away when you try installing Ubuntu or Fedora, which default to 24-bit color.
- Virtual machines are not technically virtual, because there is no way to give a machine more memory than is available physically on your machine.
- Accelerated video is still missing from Virtual PC, which means your hi-end video card won’t due much for your virtual machines.
As for Linux, after installing Ubuntu, Kbuntu, and Fedora 6 and trying to setup LAMP (Linux + Apache + MySQL + PHP) along with Webmin and PHPMyAdmin, I started to miss Mac OS X and Windows. The package installer in Ubuntu is by far the easiest to use, but to enable extra packages and get dependencies updated, you still have to resort to the command line, and even then just to install Webmin takes more than just a couple of commands. Fedora was actually harder to use when it came to installing other software. On the other hand Fedora was faster and more responsive than Ubuntu. In the end I finally got everything setup in Ubuntu, and even resolved myself to using GNOME, and dare I say, liking some aspects of it, but as a desktop Mac OS X is so much easier to use and maintain, that I really wonder why anyone would want to use Linux or Debian.
When it comes down to it, Ubuntu and Fedora are great systems for running Apache and PHP, but their desktop use is arguably not any better than Windows or Mac OS X. Microsoft has not improved on Virtual PC, since aquiring Connectix, and worst of all they killed another great application on the Mac platform.