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Other Desktops

The USB not in Hyper-V thing is annoying. It actually made me stop and consider my alternatives for a desktop. I have 8GB and want to use it, so I'm going 64-bit. The question is which OS. As I see it, I have a few choices:

  • Vista 64 and VM software
  • Windows 7 x64 and VM software
  • W2K8 and Hyper-V
  • XP 64 and Virtual PC
  • Ubuntu 64 and VMWare (or some Linux flavor)

I've given each of these some thoughts below.

Windows XP 64

In looking over these alternatives, I'll discard Windows XP 64. I want to move forward, and this appears to be a flaky 64-bit, early alternative OS. Missing drivers, various issues, and it's old. I'll need to leave it soon, drivers aren't being written for it, etc.

Vista 64

I run Vista Ultimate on my laptop, and while it's OK, it's a pig, and overall I think it's a small POS. Not a big, honking, steaming, pile, but a small one. I don't like it, what little I've seen of Windows 7 makes me think it's better, and so this is my last choice. Actually after going back to XP. I still have a 5GB file on my Vista laptop I can't delete. It "calculates" for at least 20 minutes before I give up.

Windows 2008 Server

W2K8 is my current choice. It's installed and I'm partially into driver set up. However the Hyper-V not supporting USB makes me question Hyper-V. And if I'm not using Hyper-V, why use Windows server? Win 7 starts to make sense (or Linux).

Windows 7

Windows 7 is interesting. I hear wonderful things about it, from a number of people that have just moved to it as their primary OS. It's not often that beta software from MS is baked. SQL 7 was, a few others, and this seems like it's there. I just get this guy feeling from the people I know running it and I am very, very tempted to do this. Once I have a desktop, this will likely go on my laptop, so I'll have a consistent environment.

There is some concern about the upgrade to RTM, but a few people have moved from the beta to RC using the Windows Easy Transfer, which gives me confidence in moving later.


Joe Webb, a fellow SQL Server MVP, runs Ubuntu on his laptop. I saw this last year at a conference and was intrigued by it. He loves it, and it's cool looking. He seems very productive and that's a priority for me. He doesn't appear to have to mess with it a lot from my talks with him, and that's what I want as a host OS. Something that just works.

On my laptop, I think I'd just go with Joe's setup and VMWare. However on my desktop the issue is that I run 3 monitors and I'd like to continue doing that. In a few searches, numerous people have had issues getting multiple monitors working on Linux and they jump through some hoops. I haven't found anyone running 3 or 4 monitors, and I don't want to be the guinea pig on this one. The last thing I need is to document a 3 monitor setup on Ubuntu and have all the Linux kids emailing me with questions.

VMware v Hyper-V v Virtual Server

The more I think about this one, the more I am thinking that either VMWare or Virtual Server is the best choice. Why? One of the things I've done, and would like to continue to do, is move a VM from my desktop to my laptop as needed, usually on some USB drive. This sounds like I can't necessarily move them around. This blog post says also that Virtual Server doesn't support 64-bit images.

If that's the case, then it seems like VMWare is my best option. I get one free license for being an MVP. I am happy to buy a 2nd if that works for me. The alternative is to not move VMs around.

That's a consideration, especially as I don't do it a lot, and potentially I could set up some other way to do this.

The 64-bit thing is definitely something I want since I get 64-bit stuff to test at times, and I'm sure I'll get more as time goes on. So I want to be sure that I am Hyper-V or VMware.


What do I do? I'm really not sure. I think that Ubuntu, Vista, and XP are out. So do I go with Win 7 as a workstation or W2K8? I think for now I'll go with Hyper-V and W2K8 since it's already installed and it's not any worse than Win 7 in my mind. The USB thing I can deal with, and worse case, since my stuff is backed up with LiveMesh (which works with Windows 7), I can easily rebuild and move things if needed.

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Posted by nwlibrarian on 2 June 2009

Not sure if this helps, but a colleague runs SUSE 11.0 64 bit version, and then runs XP as a VM machine on his Desktop. He absolutely swears by it. I've considered doing the same, but to date I just haven't made the switch yet. Just me, as a personal preference, I do prefer SUSE over Ubuntu, but I'm sure in the end either flavor will work. Please let us know what you decide! Take care...

Posted by Wesley Brown on 2 June 2009

I run Ubuntu on my desktop and have 4 monitors setup. The first time I set it up it was a pain in the ass but that was 3 years ago. It's gotten easier and there are GUI tools to help with placement and the like where I had to configure X by hand to get it all the way I wanted it.

I don't run it on my laptop though because I've never gotten the touch screen to calibrate properly and that is real annoying. So, I am running Windows 7 on that and just love it. It's everything Vista should have been, so much so I'm really thinking of moving back onto Windows after years on Ubuntu.

I will say, if you like eye candy windows ain't got nothing on Compiz period. I've use Stardock and it still doesn't match the sheer slickness of Compiz.

Also, upgrading to the latest and greatest distributions can be a real hassle, I've pretty much done a reinstall on every new release. I don't think its any harder than doing a windows install, in fact it may be easier but I just don't like doing it but I'm a "early adopter" kind of guy so about every 4 to 6 months I'm doing a reinstall. Sometimes I do a dual boot and keep the old install around until I'm good with the new install.

I've tried a lot of different distributions and continue to do so but I think Ubuntu pretty much as the desktop figured out and it is what I recommend to anyone trying linux on the desktop for the first time.

And I am a glutton for punishment I was a Slackware guy from the beginning and before that I always rolled my own but that was the .97/.99 days :)


Posted by Steve Jones on 2 June 2009

Does the default Ubuntu do 3 or 4 monitors easily? I just don't really want to spend the time learning to do it because it's not a part of my job, or honestly, something I'm interested in doing. The minutiae of how the graphics work in Linux, or Windows even, anymore. I want it to just work.

Posted by Wesley Brown on 2 June 2009

well no. I don't think any of them do but I hear SUSE has a better tool than most.

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