Ubuntu – Should I run Ubuntu alongside Windows or in a virtual machine

dual-bootinstallationpartitioningvirtualboxwindows 7

I would like to install Ubuntu on my Windows 7 64-bit PC to do analysis of astronomy data. The data files are often large (can be few hundred MB, possibly a GB). The data files may be located on an external hard disk. The PC has 6 GB RAM and 670 GB hard disk.

I'm trying to decide whether to do a proper dual-boot, installing Ubuntu in its own partition (I'm nervous of messing around with the hard disk, have never done it before) or to run Ubuntu using VirtualBox in Windows. How much slower is running in Virtualbox likely to be?

If I do go for a traditional dual-boot, would it make sense to divide the hard disk more or less equally between the two OSs?

I would be very grateful for some advice.

Many thanks

Best Answer

If the application you will be running is CPU and RAM intensive then it will be best for you to install Ubuntu natively rather than virtually. If you do decide to dual-boot and will only be using Ubuntu as a secondary OS there is no need to give it such a large partition unless you will be storing large files on the partition itself (but you said that your files were on an external HD). Ubuntu would be able to access the windows partition (NTFS) if you wanted to store things there anyway. Therefore you should give the Ubuntu partition ~20GB (to be on the safe side) and it will also require a swap partition that is the slighlty larger than the amount of RAM you have.

If you will only be using Ubuntu temporarily then you may want to look at Wubi which will simplify the installation and removal by doing it from within Windows. The downside of Wubi is that read and write speeds to the HD are slightly slower. This may not bother you.

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