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Discussion Starter #1
I would like to set up a VM at home on one my PCs. Does anyone have any experience with this? I was thinking of using VirtualBox. Any reason I shouldn't?

What should I use as my host OS? I am guessing it will have to be something that you aren't likely to want to get rid of since you can't wipe it out without wiping out all of your VMs, correct? So should I use a Linux OS like Ubuntu as my host OS? And can you use your host OS to do other things or do you just want it to be a host and do nothing else?

Anyone suggest any good tutorials or guides on this? When I google I get a bunch of hits but many of the top results are rather old and I wonder if they are still useful or whether they are now deprecated?
 

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I'm running Windows 7 in VirtualBox on my main Linux system. I run it full screen on the 2nd virtual desktop, so I can easily switch between the two. Just for fun, I also installed OS/2 Warp 4 and Windows 98 in VirtualBox on my (Linux) notebook.
 

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You can use whatever you want as the host. You can save/move the vbox images around afterwards, so you won't lose your VMs if you want to change the host OS afterwards. That's one of the great things about running things in VMs.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I just installed Win10 Tech Preview on a machine that I could use as a host. But Win10 Tech Preview will expire in a few months and/or I will want to move to the next beta of Win10. But from what you're saying that's not an issue?
 

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With VirtualBox, VMs can be moved from host O/S to host O/S with little effort.

I keep my VMs on a separate hard drive. This way, I can move my VMs to different hardware (with a different host OS, if I desire) just by plugging the drive into it. Even if you don't use a separate drive, cloning a VM from one drive to another is easy.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
How many VMs can you run on one machine? I guess it is memory dependent but it is reasonable to be able to run 4 VMs in an 8GB PC with 2GB each of memory?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I keep my VMs on a separate hard drive. This way, I can move my VMs to different hardware (with a different host OS, if I desire) just by plugging the drive into it. Even if you don't use a separate drive, cloning a VM from one drive to another is easy.
Is there any reason that you can't install a VM OS to a USB flash drive? That would make it very easy to move among machines.

When you have several VMs running on one PC how does it handle the networking? Does each VM get its own IP address?
 

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Running a VM off a USB flash drive will technically work, but will be incredibly slow when you need to use the VM for anything that requires access to the VMs disk.

The number of VMs (guests) per machine you can run is based on the resources of the hosting acting as the hypervisor and what type of workloads you intend to be running on the guests.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Running a VM off a USB flash drive will technically work, but will be incredibly slow when you need to use the VM for anything that requires access to the VMs disk.
Why is that? Is it because the USB bus is much slower than SATA or is it particular to VMs? And would it make a big difference if you had USB 3.0? Can VMs access USB 3.0 at the higher speeds or do they have to go through a layer that slows them down?
 

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The cheap/slow NAND flash that they use in USB flash drives makes it a bad choice to run an operating system on. Doesn't have anything to do with being a VM.
 

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I guess it is memory dependent but it is reasonable to be able to run 4 VMs in an 8GB PC with 2GB each of memory?
Each VM ties up the amount of memory that you specify for it. Four VMs at 2GB each would require 8GB. That would leave no memory for the host OS, so the answer is no.

When you have several VMs running on one PC how does it handle the networking? Does each VM get its own IP address?
There are various ways to provide network access to a VM but with VirtualBox the easiest and most common is that each VM gets its own network as if it were attached to a router on the host's network. As with a real router, NAT is generally used to translate the VM's IP address(es) to the host's network address.
https://www.virtualbox.org/manual/ch06.html
 

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Another problem with running a VM entirely on a flash drive is that the VM's virtual hard disk will reside on the flash drive. Most operating systems do a fair amount of reading and writing to their system drive. Flash drives are capable of only a limited number of write cycles so you may end up wearing one out quite quickly.

If you want the convenience of plugabilty for a virtual machine, consider using a USB 3.0 or eSATA portable hard drive.

Or, what I do is use just a regular SATA hard drive with trayless plugable drive bays
StarTech trayless drive bay
 

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I just installed Win10 Tech Preview on a machine that I could use as a host. But Win10 Tech Preview will expire in a few months and/or I will want to move to the next beta of Win10. But from what you're saying that's not an issue?
I would actually recommend the opposite, run a stable host OS and use Win10 previews as the VM OS.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
That's exactly what I am thinking - nuke the current Win10 install and install Ubuntu as the host OS and then add Win10 as a VM, especially since there will be new versions every few months or so.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I am not using Win8, other than on an 8" tablet and I don't know that I want to run VMs on that. But I am guessing that it should work on Win10 TP which I have installed.
 
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