I've worked in the Unix environment since about 1990, but for me Unix has always been just a means to get to electronic design (EDA) tools such as provided by Cadence, Mentor Graphics, Spice etc. I'm not a gamer or computer hobby-ist but I do write code in C, make or perl to do my work.
After losing my job last year, I've hung out my shingle as an independent consultant. While on a contract, all is well. I use my client's Unix environment whether on site or working remotely from a PC in my home office. When I'm between clients, like right now, I'm wishing I had access to public domain EDA tools so I could do some experimental work as background for technical papers or presentations. Which means Linux.
I use my XP PC for book-keeping, creating presentations and documents, email and internet. Here are my questions:
Is it advisable to run Linux on the same PC without risking the business applications and documents on the XP side?
Would it be better to put the Linux operating system and tools on an external disk drive or on a separate, dedicated PC?
I appreciate your advice. Thank you,
I see that no one has answered your post so I will take (a feeble) stab at it. In answer to your questions:
Check your hardware for compatibility with the Unix environment of your choice. Assuming that you choose compatible hardware/Unix combination then it may be suitable to run Linux on the same PC as the windows operating system. If you are using Apple then you may need to do a bit more research. Check the documentation for the distribution you choose to make sure that it will install a dual boot system. BEFORE YOU INSTALL ANY DISTRIBUTION OF LINUX ON YOUR COMPUTER IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO BACK UP ALL DATA YOU REQUIRE TO KEEP SAFE.
I have been using Ubuntu for a couple of years now. It dual boots Ubuntu/Windows without problems. I believe this to be an advisable and safe installation.
Things for you to think about:
-Does your existing computer have enough hard drive, memory etc. to install and run Linux and the sophisticated tools you plan to run? If yes then this is a simple low cost solution. Ubuntu will install grub for dual booting and even partition a windows drive for you. Don't make either partition too small.
-Booting from an external HD or memory stick will be slower than running from an internal HD. Can you accept the performance hit? Will your bios allow you to boot from an external drive? If you answer yes to both of these question then this may be a suitable option for you.
-Can you afford to buy a new computer to run Linux? The gold plated option.
If your happy using XP, you might think about vmwear for windows. If you xp machine has the legs for it, this coud be a safe easy answer.
One Good way to do this is a Live Linux install.
You can Run Knoppix DVD 5.3 or higher by putting the DVD inside and then Browsing to the QEMU directory and double clicking the install to run a Virtual machine as a window under XP.
If you have XP pro you can also use Virtual PC 2007 from microsoft its free.
Downloading Knoppix DVD requires firefox and an NFS Drive due to IE and FAT32 not supporting files larger than 4 gigs.
The other way to run Knoppix if you dont have DVD is CD version booting from the CD.
It isn't necessary to have Linux on a separate hard disk. On both my computers where I am running dualbooting Ubuntu Linux with Windows, the OS share the same hard drive. However, if you do plan on dualbooting Windows with it, it is advisable to back up your data in the event you do something to 'break' your system.
Downloading and burning the Ubuntu Linux Live CD and booting into it allows you to try it without modifying your system.
Running Knoppix Via QEMU doesnt require a hard drive.
Booting Knoppix CD or DVD works without a hard drive.