The Way of Migrate From Windows to Linux Easily

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Like most people, when I started using Linux, create a separate partition for Linux and use Lilo or Grub to boot either Windows or Linux, according to the needs of different jobs.

I usually use my laptop during the day in a company that uses Windows applications in a Windows-based local network and therefore, usually have to start at Windows during the day to work with my colleagues, while at home I started, especially on Linux. This approach has several drawbacks as follows:

    * My work e-mail in Microsoft Outlook and had to boot into Windows to access it.
    
* Using KMail (and later, Mozilla Thunderbird) to my personal e-mail and I have to boot into Linux to access it.
    
* You can access the Linux folder and copy data from Windows, but can not access the directory on Linux than Windows.

I concluded that I should have a better way to use my team and I am looking for a solution that would allow access to the Linux and Windows applications without rebooting.

I researched several products available. I find wine or CodeWeavers Crossover general support Windows applications, but some do not work. VMWare looks interesting, but I prefer to use Win4Lin to date (originally developed by NeTraverse to support only Windows 95, 98 or ME and later updated by Virtual Bridges also supports Windows 2000 and Windows XP), but this product is no longer updated and support ,

I need to find a replacement and finally decided to install Virtual Box, a virtualization platform originally developed by Sun Micro Systems and later with the support of the Oracle, after the acquisition of Sun.

Some of the advantages I have found both in Virtual Box is:

    * 3 is a VirtualBox virtual machine desktop using “Type 2” hypervisor that require a host operating systems are supported (Linux, Windows, Macintosh, or OpenSolaris) and x86-based or hardware to run AMD64/Intel64
    
* Installing Virtual Box is pretty simple, but there are some problems which I will describe later.
    
* You can install different operating systems and the performance is quite good. You can read the list of supported operating systems virtualbox.org /
    
* Create a virtual machine is quick and easy, thanks to the VM creation wizard that takes you step by step through the creation of a virtual machine guest.

Installing Virtual Box
Virtual Box can be downloaded from virtualbox.org, but do not need to download the software comes with a Linux distribution (openSUSE 11.3).

You’ll find plenty of documentation theVirtualBox.org pages of technical documentation.

Installation is quite easy, but you must remember to manually add virtual users will have access to a specific group of users vboxusers Fund. This can be done easily by using the security options and user OpenSuse YaST.

Using Windows with Virtual Box
I installed Virtual Box on Windows XP only because my main goal is to create an integrated desktop environment that can easily access the Linux and Windows applications

An important prerequisite for successful integration is to be able to access the Windows directory of Linux, as this allows data transfer between the two environments.

Unfortunately this is not easy to achieve. Virtual Box allows you to declare a shared folder that is accessible from both the Linux (host OS) and Windows (guest OS). I declare my Linux directory as a shared folder, but when I start Windows, the shared folder is not visible in the browser. This problem and the solution is best described in a separate section.

The main advantage of installing Windows on a virtual box are:

    * Installing Virtual Windows box of course is much better integrated with the original installation of Windows and Linux will be available with the power of Linux and Windows applications without having to reboot.
    
* Windows in Virtual Box offering greater protection against viruses of the separate installation of Windows. You can save the Windows directory as a tar archive and many viruses have no effect
    
* There is no Windows boot sector and therefore, the boot sector or boot viruses are not effective.
    
* Virtual Box Windows install files in a subdirectory of the Linux host system files and related viruses, therefore, FAT32, VFAT or ineffective.
    
Executable file and macro viruses * can still be attacked, but will not affect the Linux system unless you transfer the system files infected host file. To reduce the risk, you may decide to declare a directory as a file folder together only when needed

Limitations of Virtual Box and distinctiveness
Virtual Box can not copy and paste between Linux and Windows environments.

Clicking the mouse on the Windows screen, the system captures the mouse in Windows and do not move out of the Windows screen. To use a mouse, you must press a button to capture the N-.

Troubleshooting Access to Shared Folders
I presented the problem before and found it very annoying because it is a serious limitation to the integration between Windows and Linux. I was able to find a solution on the Ubuntu forums. Summarizes the steps required to solve the problem as follows:

   1. Launch Virtual Box and then start Windows XP
   
2. Go to the top panel of the virtual box and click on Devices -> Install Guest Editions
   
3. Download and install the offline edition. This will cause a restart of Windows.
   
4. Configure shared folders in virtual box. For example, declare the house to share a folder / document
   
5. Start Windows, go to Start -> Run, type cmd and press
   
6. once in a DOS console, type net use t: \ vboxsvr \ documents. Note that you must put only the folder name for the last time the end of the command, for example, if you select a folder under the command will use the net home/mario1/documents t: \ vboxsvr \ documents
   
7. If you look in Windows Explorer, see the new t drive as a shared folder and will be able to access their content.

Delete the original partition from windows
One downside has both a native Windows partition and installing Windows guests is the loss of space (for example, have MS Office installed on two partitions). This configuration can provide greater security in case of installation problems for either Windows or Linux, but at some point, I decided that I could use more disk space and works without a dual-boot with Windows and Linux under Windows.

To avoid loss of useful data, I conduct the following activities:

    * I have identified the mailbox using Outlook with Windows Search with “*. pst” and copied to the Windows environment.
    
* I have identified MAILD box Outlook Express by using the Search option in Windows for “*. dbx” and copied to the Windows environment.
    
* I identify my Eudora mailboxes (for my personal email) using the Windows Search option with “*. mbx” and copied to the Windows environment.
    
* I found the ‘Favorites’ folder used by Internet Explorer and I copied it and sub-folders for the Windows environment.
    
* I copied the folder “My Documents” and all the other folders that I used in my Windows environment

Make copies before in Virtual Box environment is relatively easy, because Linux can access the mnt directory. You can mount the original Windows partition in Linux directory / mnt using a ommand such as:

$ Sudo mount / dev/sdb3 / media / windows vfat-o umask = 000 t

After the partition is mounted, you can declare as a shared folder mnt access it in Windows Virtual Box session ..

Once I was satisfied that all relevant data available in the Windows environment, I decided to format the Windows partition and Linux copy / home directory, which is included in the hierarchy of the main roots, in a separate partition. These activities are described in detail below.

Using a free partition for Linux, a good explanation of how to move / home to a different partition can be found a good tutorial of Daniel Robbins on IBM DeveloperWorks

The main steps are:

    * Creating a file system on the new partition using a command like mkfs / dev /?
    
* Mount the new file system on / mnt with a command like mount / dev /? / Mnt / newhome
    
* Drop into single user mode (init 1)
    
* Change the current directory and enter the copy command like cp-ax * / mnt / newhome. Option causes cp to copy the ax in a recursive mode to preserve all file attributes.
    
* Change the name of the house / old to / home.old with the command mv / home / home.old and mount again with mount / dev /? / Home.
    
* If you are sure that everything works correctly, you can delete home.old /.

Conclusion
I believe that the approach described above allows the optimal use of resources Linux and Windows.
It is often difficult to use Linux just because sometimes people need to work on Windows-based local area network, interact with other Windows users, or simply because one is too lazy to learn a new application instead of the usual Windows environment.
A dual-boot system convenient to use. An integrated solution as described above allows far more satisfying than their IT resources and time.

Mario Pesce is a computer consultant and programmer who has worked for years in large international companies, especially IBM AS/400 and Linux.

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