Have you ever learned about a great piece of software that you could really use, but – horrors – it wouldn’t run on your computer’s operating system?
I ran into that recently when I wanted to use Microsoft’s Visual C# 2010 Express to learn programming. No Mac version. (Yes, you can use MonoDevelop – also free btw – but the course I’m taking uses Visual C#).
Previously, I had found quite a few open source programs are only available for Linux, or ran better on Linux.
What to do?
VirtualBox to the rescue!
Available from Oracle, VirtualBox is a FREE, open source program that lets you simulate other sytems on your computer, in real time, without rebooting. It even lets you share your files among systems.
Here’s my setup: I run OSX Lion on a 27″ iMac with an i7 processor and 8 GB memory. Using VirtualBox I run Windows 7 AND Linux Ubuntu 11.1 simultaneously, with their windows acting as if they were native Mac windows, and share all my files among all three systems.
Now, I did have to buy Windows 7. I got an OEM version of Windows 7 Pro from Microcenter for about $150. The Ubuntu version of Linux is free here.
You can use VirtualBox to run Windows and Linux on a Mac, Linux and Mac Server (not regular OSX) on Windows PC, or Windows and Mac Server on a Linux box.
VirtualBox is available here.