posted by Eugenia Loli on Mon 10th Apr 2006 21:20 UTC
IconThere are so many ways to boot alternative OSes to common PCs these days. What's your prefered way? Read for a quick introduction to the most common methods and then let us know about your prefered way of booting alternative OSes to your PC by taking the poll.

There are many ways to run multiple operating systems on a single piece of hardware. Below we count the pros & cons of the three most popular methods: re-partitioning, emulation and virtualization.

1. Partitioning
With the re-partitoning method the user must manually re-partition his hard drive and then install the OSes one after the other on the right partition and then use a boot manager to boot between OSes.
Pros:
- OSes run full speed
- Full access to the hardware
- Partition resizing is possible (depending on the file system used)
Cons:
- Manually partitioning can be tricky for newbies
- Frustrating if you 'lose' your boot manager after an OS update
- Requires a full reboot to run another OS

2. Virtualization
Virtualization is the new kid on the block and it's gaining ground very fast. To the eyes of a simple user it looks a lot like straight emulation, but in reality it's not. The virtualizer "shares" more hardware resources with the host OS than an emulator does.
Pros:
- Slower than the re-partitioning method but much faster than emulation
- Support for all host hardware, including 3D support
- Virtual clustering made-easy
Cons:
- Requires enough RAM
- Only runs on the same architecture as the host OS

3. Emulation
Emulators will completely emulate the target CPU and hardware (e.g. sound cards, graphics cards, etc). Emulators are the "old way" of running multiple OSes on a single computer. Emulation on PCs these days is only good for non-OS usages (e.g. game consoles, embedded systems) or specific OS/CPU development purposes.
Pros:
- Best solution for embedded/OS development
- Doesn't interfere with the underlying host OS
- Can be ported to any architecture
Cons:
- Can be very slow
- No 3D or other exotic PC hardware support
- Requires enough RAM

Being a traditional geek chick myself, I still prefer the manual re-partioning method for my PCs (I like the clean nature of it), but for a MacTel I would much prefer Boot Camp's special partioning scheme (if Vista, Linux are supported properly -- otherwise, Virtualization is my next best option on MacTels). Tell us what's your prefered method is below!

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