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"XPLinux" Running Windows XP and Kubuntu on one joint desktop

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I've decided not to upgrade to Vista. I would need a new computer and really have no need for one, other than to run Vista. I have, however, upgraded to 1 gig of RAM recently and this has finally allowed me to run Windows and Linux together on one desktop -- all the time. With only 768K to was too painful to run all the time. I call this joint desktop "XPLinux" and it is fairly powerful -- and very slick.

It's all running on an older Compaq with 2.5ghz P4 cpu, 1 gig of RAM, and a 64 meg GeForce 4 video card. I'm running Windows XP SP2 heavily modified with third party desktop enhancements and I'm running Linux (Kubuntu Feisty Fawn) in a VMWare virtual machine (set to have only 384 megs of RAM). I am runing an X-server on Windows (Xming) with allows me to display linux programs running in the VM on my Windows desktop where they look and mostly act like native windows programs. To do this, I use plink (from PuTTY) to connect to the VMWare virtual machine over my home network and display Linux programs on the XMing X-Server I have running on Windows. I run the KDE Kicker panel which lets me start any other Linux program I want to run.

Here's a basic picture of my desktop displaying the Windows start menu and the KDE menu from Kicker. (Note: clicking on the screenshots will take you to a full-sized version)

"XPLinux" Running Windows XP and Kubuntu on one joint desktop

You may think it looks a lot like Vista with the transparent taskbar and window borders. This is because I am running Windowblinds 5.5 with a transparent theme. It looks spiffy and runs without all the overhead and high end graphics card Vista requires. The tiny icons on the right side of the screen are a Windows Powerpro bar. Clicking on an icon starts a program or brings up a menu. Right clicking on most starts a different program. Middle-clicking on some starts yet a different program. Windows Powerpro is a freeware program I can't live without. The Events list at the top right is from Rainlendar, a freeware calander program. The tiny text at the bottom right above the system tray is another Windows PowerPro bar. While the start menu is displaying for this screen shot, I don't use it much. the start button isn't even on the task bar. Instead of use True Launch Bar (there an almost as powerful freeware version called Free Launch Bar).

The next screenshot shows a few Windows and Linux programs running.

"XPLinux" Running Windows XP and Kubuntu on one joint desktop

At the top left, the Linux Konsole program is running a terminal session on the VM. Next is Krusader, a "Norton Commander" style Linux file manager displaying a directory from my real D drive (my data drive shared with Feisty via VMWare Tools) on the left and my home directory on the Linux VM's virtual drive on the right. XYWrite4 is an ancient DOS program running in a modern windowed mode thanks the wonderful shareware program TameDOS which not only displays DOS programs in a modern Window (instead of the limited "dosbox" provided by Microsoft) but prevents them from hogging 100% of the cpu as most DOS program want to do under Windows. Finally, the Windows Task Manager proves this really in Windows XP and shows there is still a lot of memory available. (Note that I have VMWare set up to share memory instead of its default "hog the memory" setting.)

The final screenshot shows a few different programs running:

"XPLinux" Running Windows XP and Kubuntu on one joint desktop

At the top, the new object-oriented command shell, Windows PowerShell running in a Console box. Console is for Windows what Konsole is for KDE on Linux. The large window is KDE's browser (Linux), Konqueror, displaying the Donationcoder forum. Finally, the Konsole window is displaying a Linux terminal running the TinyFugue MU* client connected to LambdaMOO.

As you can see, my setup looks nice and lets me run both Windows XP and Linux programs at the same time. The X-forwarding via PuTTY is a bit slow for running graphics programs -- but Windows has the best graphics programs around, so this is not a major loss. Other Linux programs display more than fast enough for regular use. I have the best of both Windows and Linux worlds and they all work together almost seemlessly -- even my Windows clipboard manager (Clipmate) and hotkey manager (AutoHotKey) work in most Linux programs just as well as they do in most Windows programs.

If you are interested in Linux, but need the access to Windows software. An "XPLinux" set up like this will allow you to have the best of both XP and Linux together on one machine. As you can see you can get a powerful, nice-looking "XPLinux" system without upgrading an old system nearly as much as you'd have to do to get it to run Vista's DRM well.

I must say that's pretty amazing!!

I've bought 1gb of ram recently, to be able to run a linux virtual machine under windows (and also because 512mb just wasn't cutting it), but that is even better!

I definitelly will look into what you're doing!

Just one doubt: isn't it possible to use the loopback link? (
I own a wireless network, thus using it to connect to the linux box might make things a bit too slow for me :(

Why go through SSH encryption when you're only using one physical machine, though? That shouldn't really be necessary :)

A few years back, I found it was faster (well, smoother) to use X-Win32 across a 100mbit lan, than run X11 directly on my linux box, even though there was some (supposedly, heh) accelerated driver for the voodoo3 card in the box. That was two physical machines and no SSH encryption, though, and X-Win32 is commercial.

jgpaiva: won't work since the linux machine is emulated, but vmware has some virtual adapters, so the traffic won't go across your wlan.

Just one doubt: isn't it possible to use the loopback link? (
I own a wireless network, thus using it to connect to the linux box might make things a bit too slow for me :(
-jgpaiva (June 19, 2007, 06:02 PM)
--- End quote ---

You can avoid the LAN traffic. Loopback will not work, but VMWare has "Host" network adapters that just pretend to be a network on a single machine (no actual traffic across your network). Back when I was using VMWare Workstation 5.5, I have a host adapter set up for the X-forwarding and a regular bridged adapter for the VM's internet connection. However, when I upgraded to 6, the host adapter in my old Dapper Drake setup stopped working and I did not have time to figure out why. As my home network is wired, it doesn't matter much.

BTW, VMWare's free Server works just fine as well. No need for the paid Workstation unless you just happen to have a license for work as I do.

Holy crap! This looks interesting - best of both worlds. I had to check the calendar to make double sure that it's not April 1st! Anway, will need time to read more carefully the OP and think about possibly implementing this on my own machine - COOL (but, is it necessary...).

PS Have Windowblinds 5.5 as well but don't have it insalled at the moment - I wax and wane on whether or not I need the eye candy when balanced against the impact on my system. However, the last time I had it installed I was running A LOT of resource hungry apps from startup - am not doing that anymore, perhaps it's time to give WB another whirl (it's been three or four months, so I'm "due").


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