Bringing Linux to Windows – part 1

Part 1 of 3

Linux on a Windows desktop – why?

The idea is to provide a learning and development environment; to have my Internet & Web Architecture students be able to use the same environment at school and at home.

At school, we have a standard Ubuntu-Linux server running with the usual Apache2 webserver, PHP/MySQL, ssh terminal access, PHPMyAdmin and a few other utilities. Alas due to firewall configuration this environment is only available from on-campus locations – which imposes a serious time handicap on students.

Thus, let’s use the power of virtualization to bring the same environment to student machines. Basically, any Windows-based computer should be able to handle this, as long as the computer has at least 2 GB memory and 10-15 GB of disk space available.

Parts list:

Hardware:

Windows-based computer; the more powerful the better, but most systems made since 2006 are likely to work. Minimums are 2 GB RAM, 10GB disk, Windows XP and a dual-core CPU.

Software:

Ubuntu Server 12.04 LTS; download ISO as appropriate to your host system (64 bit or 32 bit).

VMWare Player – I recommend using version 3 for Windows XP, or the current version 6 for Windows 7 or 8.

PuTTY – ssh client for Windows; freeware.

Before beginning this, it’s time to make a few notes. You’ll need to assign a username for the Linux user, a password for that user, and a password for the MySQL root account. It’s a good idea to write this down somewhere (or in a text file you can access).

Ready? Grab a beverage, get out your software downloads, and let’s start.

First up – install VMWare. Accept the default choices. When it’s done installing, open it up and you should get this screen (although you may get a message trying to sell an upgrade to workstation – if so just close that and proceed):

VMWare home screen
First step in creating a new Virtual Machine.

When you get to the home screen, it’s time to create your Virtual Machine. Click on “Create Virtual Machine.”

My preference is to load from an ISO file (what you downloaded); it’s much faster to read from a hard disk than from a CD (plus you save all the time needed to ‘burn’ the ISO onto the CD).

VMWare iso selection
Make sure you pick the correct ISO

Next up, find your notes and enter in your username and password. Yes, you need a password. You can change it later from the command line, but you will still need a password.

VMWare id password entry
Add your name as well.

Next up, name your virtual machine and put it somewhere. Usually the defaults are fine.

Now it’s time to set the Disk Capacity for the VM. My opinion – for a 32-bit system set the value to 8 GB; on 64-bit use 12 GB. As noted below, 12 GB allows for a quite elaborate server.

VM Disk size selector
Disk capacity selection

Whether you use a single file or multiple files is largely a matter of personal choice. If you intend to move this around to another system then multi-file may be better (due to FAT32 size limits; and most USB thumb drives are FAT32-formatted).

The next screen should be similar to this:

VMWare ready to run
Ready to install Ubuntu!

And once you click “Finish” it will be on to the next part of this post!

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4 thoughts on “Bringing Linux to Windows – part 1”

    1. In part I’m after having students learn – and I think it’s better to start with an empty Linux box and configure up from that, rather than go with another layout (and the compromises or problems therein).

      Being able to navigate the Unix/Linux command line is a good skill for a web developer to have.

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