8 Reasons Why You Should Run Linux in a Virtual Machine

If you wanted to run multiple Linux systems on one machine, you had to install them using multi-booting. One great thing about Linux is that it plays nice with virtual machines. Linux virtual machines have a lot of hidden advantages that most users are unaware of.

1. Fast Startup

Virtual machines can start faster than a “bare metal” installation on actual hardware. This might be because a virtual machine doesn't have to undergo the power-on tests that a physical machine does on startup. You can get to work on a virtual Linux machine without wasting time.

2. Isolated Environment

A Linux virtual machine is isolated from the host operating system. This means that any problems with the OS installation will be limited to that virtual machine.

If your virtual OS becomes corrupted or is affected by malware, you can just restore your snapshots or backups (more on this later) and continue as if it didn't happen. And since only the virtual system is affected, you can use your regular machine as normal.

You can also have a specific environment you need for an application. A developer can ship the environment along with an application. This approach, using lightweight containers such as with Docker, has become a popular way to deploy software on servers.

Related: Reasons to Use Docker Virtualization Software

If you use Linux, most of the time when you need to use a Windows application that doesn't work with Wine, you can run it in a VirtualBox machine instead of creating a dual-boot system. It also works the other way around. If you can live with the overhead, virtual machines are more flexible than dual-boot systems for all the reasons outlined.

3. You Can Clone Virtual MachinesVirtualbox cloning

A Linux desktop is wonderful, but what happens when you get a new machine? You'll have to migrate all your files and reinstall all your applications.

With a virtual machine, you can export the system and move it to the new physical machine and pick up where you left off.

You can also share your environment with other people. You could create a standard environment for developing and testing an application that will be the same among the members of your development team.

With the ability to capture snapshots, you can roll back any changes to your system that work out poorly.

4. You Can Try Out Different Distros

A lot of the fun of Linux comes from trying new distributions. You can keep using your favorite distro while experimenting with different ones.

It's tedious to repartition your hard drive for every new system, but creating new virtual machines is trivial. You can avoid fumbling with CD-Rs or trying to find spare USB drives to boot a live distro.

When you're finished testing a system, you can just delete the virtual machine if you don't want it.

If you use a stable distro like Debian, you can try a bleeding-edge system like Arch Linux. Because it's isolated from your stable system, you can experiment without risk to your main OS.

5. Easy Backup and Recovery

It's easier to backup and restore virtual machines than it is for a physical system. You can take a snapshot of a virtual machine in a known good configuration before making extensive changes. If these changes cause problems, you can just go back to where you were by loading the snapshot that you made.

Because you can make and restore snapshots, you can experiment safely with Linux configurations. Making snapshots will save you a lot of frustration because you can spend time working instead of troubleshooting.

6. You Can Use Prebuilt Images

Along with the fast startup of using a virtual machine over a physical installation, you can also save time by using prebuilt images.

Repositories exist of prebuilt virtual machines for nearly every open-source operating system out there, such as the OSBoxes site for VirtualBox. The advantage is that you can avoid the installation process and get to work on the new machine.

These systems come with standard admin accounts, so you should change the passwords. Security is less important on a virtual machine that's just running on your local system, but you should establish good habits.

7. Easy to Learn Linux/IT Concepts

If you're completely new to Linux, the best way to learn is on a virtual machine. You can get familiar with installing, configuring, and using Linux without having to tear up your existing environment. It's also more hands-on than using something like Windows Subsystem for Linux.

If you've been using Linux on the desktop and want to learn how to run Linux on servers, you can also experiment on a VM rather than buying expensive extra hardware. You could bring up a LAMP stack on a virtual Linux server and learn how to write web applications.

There's a reason virtualization is so important to many IT departments. Virtual machines are a great way to set up a “home lab” of virtual servers without the expense or space of physical machines.

Learn More: Should You Run Linux in a Virtual Machine or WSL?

8. Different Virtual Machines on One Computer

You can easily set up different virtual Linux machines on one physical machine. You might only have a limited physical amount of space on your desk. Maybe you only want to manage one computer.

You can have different virtual machines for different purposes. You might have a small stable Debian server or a bleeding-edge Arch desktop. You could set up a database server or a router on a server as well. You can connect all of these in their own virtual networks.

Virtual Linux machines make efficient use of your hardware. Even the cheapest computer you can buy can run multiple virtual machines with reasonable performance. So why not tap the hidden capabilities of your computer and put them to work for you?

Virtualization and Linux: A Winning Combination

One reason that Linux has become so widespread is that it can coexist with different systems. Virtualization makes that possible. You can create multiple Linux machines on one physical computer, and move them around as necessary. It's hard to imagine Linux being where it is without virtual machines.

VirtualBox is the premier open-source virtualization application, and there are ways to supercharge your Linux virtual machines to take full advantage of them.

Author: David Delony

Source: David Delony.” 8 Reasons Why You Should Run Linux in a Virtual Machine”. Retrieved From https://www.makeuseof.com/reasons-why-run-linux-in-virtual-machines/

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