Ramblings of a Digital Educator

November 28, 2006

Right tools for the job…multiple OS’s on one machine!

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 5:50 pm

Schools and businesses are faced with expanding technology and the need to deploy more applications and operating systems than ever before. Thanks to virtualization technology you can run multiple operating systems on one computer! See my photos for the proof!

Multiple Operating Systems on one machine

Now how does this help students and staff? Simple. Educators are not in the business of training. Training is something you do to a dog or a monkey. We educate. When we spend all our time “training” kids how to use one particular brand of software….one particular OS….one set of applications….then we are doing them a HUGE disservice. We have not taught them how to use a computer…ANY computer. Now, I’ll grant you that this is tough in today’s economic climate. Multiple machines, platforms, OSes, and so forth can add up to big bucks and a logistical nightmare. Of course, that is assuming you need a separate machine for each operating system. What if you could run almost anything on one machine? For example, the new Intel-based Macs can run Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X….all on one piece of hardware! You can run them natively using Boot Camp or you can run virtualization software such as Parallels for Mac. Think of the possibilities! One lesson could use PowerPoint on Windows, another could use iMovie on Mac OS X, and yet another could use KTouch Typing Tutor on Linux! Imagine a lab full of Mac Minis running all three operating systems! Your staff and students could learn it all!

But we don’t have any Macs or any money…

No problem! I’m going to assume you have some decent PC’s. Most schools have labs filled with pretty decent machines such as Pentium 4’s with a good amount of RAM and so forth. You won’t be able to run Mac OS X, but you can easily run Linux and Windows on the same machine! In fact, you could run many different distributions of Linux…or Windows for that matter! The scenario is much the same as I described above with the lab full of Mac Minis….only this time it would be PC’s that can run multiple OSes. This can also be done via dual-booting…or better yet….with virtualization! VMWare offers a great way to do this! VMWare Player allows you to install pre-built virtual machines (operating systems) or you can use the FREE VMWare Server and load your own! I’ve used VMWare server for nearly a year now on my own laptop. It’s simple! In a few short steps (using the GUI) you can create a VM (virtual machine) and then you simply load your CD/DVD…turn on the VM…and voila! You’re on your way! Loading a VM with an operating system is pretty much exactly the same as loading it on a traditional machine. Same questions….same graphics…same everything. In fact, if you operate in full screen mode….the average person wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Todays machines come with gigantic hard drives (which are grossly under-utilized on workstations in schools…especially in a server based environment) and decent amounts of RAM…so use that space and memory for something useful! Give your students and staff the right tools for the job…let them choose!

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