What is the best way to run linux for academic research while maintaining WinXP on my laptop?

I am still new to linux/unix and I have been working with some fairly obscure academic research programs by SSHing to linux (Redhat and Solaris) servers through my laptop. I have had the administrators of the servers erase all my data once, and I want to have more control over my destiny. I have looked at using Live CDs/USBs, CoLinux, virtualizers, Cygwin, and dual-booting — but I don’t know which would be fast enough to run data/calculation intensive academic programs and also not make me destroy/re-install my current WinXP installation to do it.

3 Responses to What is the best way to run linux for academic research while maintaining WinXP on my laptop?

  1. The dual booting option is the best for you here. You need to partition your hard drive and use a boot manager & partition manager (with created boot disks) and an install CD for your new OS.

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  2. While I’m not a big Ubuntu fan you might consider using wubi-installer, which does not repartition your hard drive but does put Linux on it. More information at:


    And remember, even though it is not repartitioning your hard drive, make sure you have plenty of room and run disk defragmenter just before the install. Because Windows doesn’t always tell you where on the disk it writes files, this is very important.

    CD access and USB access are slower than hard drive access, so this or dual-booting would be the fastest way to go.

    EDIT: Ubuntu may or may not lack some of the dependencies for your academic programs. It’s intended for casual users. This is a problem which usually can be fixed in about five minutes. If your programs or your support tells you you need then run “apt-cache search while you are connected to the internet, then “sudo apt-get install “. If the dependency isn’t listed, or a package which contains the dependency, then your /etc/apt/sources.list file needs editing and your school probably has Linux Users doing work study in the computer lab or a Linux Users Group where you can ask for help on that. Wubi is why I am recommending it, and the problem is fixable, though I don’t necessarily think Ubuntu is the best distribution for this.

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  3. It depends how much Ram and the processor speed you have but try using VMWARE running any free downloadable Virtual machine.

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