Five Ways To Run Linux On Windows

Get a taste of Linux on your Existing Windows machine.

It’s kind of funny how some people think that Linux is this super complicated operating system used only by specific people. Sure, the average user is basically just browsing the web or playing games, so a basic copy of Windows will suffice.

However, there are a lot of benefits you can get from using Linux. It’s really secure, gets frequent updates, is completely free, and the most important thing, it’s completely open source. Which means it has a tonne of different versions made by different companies or individuals.

While we won’t be going too much into why you’d want to install Linux, we’ll actually be teaching you a couple different ways as to how you can do it easily. That too on your existing Windows machine. Let’s get into it.

Cygwin – Linux Tools On A Windows PC

As the front page of Cygwin itself says, you can “get that Linux feeling – on Windows”. So this isn’t exactly a direct way of installing an actual Linus OS on your Windows PC. Instead, it gives you a general collection of tools to work with. It gives you a terminal similar to what you’d see on actual Linux. The command-line environment and most of the commands will be familiar to Linux users.

Installing Cygwin itself is also pretty straightforward. Just grab the .exe file from the site and follow the installation process. During the installation, you’ll have the option to choose from a list of packages. Depending on what you need, you can pick from different categories. These include web kit/tools, utilities, code or text formats and other stuff. If you know what to grab, do it right now or you will be running the installer again.

And that’s pretty much it. If you just want to use the basic command tools from Linux, this is a great and simple way to do so. But if you want that full Linux environment, read on.

Virtual Machines – Linux in one Window

Virtual machines are another great option, if you don’t want to mess around too much. Basically, they let you run a full fledged Linux distribution, or “distro” as the community call them, on a Window on your desktop. Surprisingly this works quite well and it’s pretty smooth to run as well.

There are two famous applications out there. One of them is VirtualBox and VMware Player is the other one. Just install either of these from their respective webpages, grab a Linux distro ISO file and install it inside the virtual machine. The process is similar to the straightforward way of installing Linux, the only difference is this is inside a separate window, something like an emulator would do.

However, we tried running Ubuntu on it, and we noticed a few hiccups here and there in performance. Honestly, it’s pretty usable but we’d recommend checking which distro works best on the virtual machine. We found distros similar to Ubuntu, such as Xubuntu or Linux Mint work quite well.

Once you find the right distro, a virtual machine is a pretty good option. You could even have windows open on the desktop for Linux program. They’d be running in the virtual machine but will display a window on the desktop. This is a bit more hassle free than dual booting both operating systems.

Wubi – Full Fledged Ubuntu on Windows

This isn’t really a dual booting type scenario. If you’re going to use Wubi to install Linux, it’s going to be the full fledged operating system. Meaning every time you want to switch to Windows or Linux, you’ll need a restart.

Still, it’s important to keep in mind that Wubi is a bit different from your traditional Linux installation process. It creates a separate file that runs Ubuntu on your partition disk. It uses that drive as your Linux OS drive. A bonus is that you can uninstall Ubuntu from the control panel whenever you want.

We found this process to be pretty reliable and straightforward. Performance is also much better than what you would get on a separate virtual machine. If you are having trouble with the partition stuff, Wubi is a hassle free and easy way to get Linux on your existing Windows machine.

Other Linux Distributions – Linux for 32bit Windows

Before we even get into this method, you should be aware that this only works on 32bit Windows, 64bit isn’t even supported. This method is more commonly known as coLinux which stands for Cooperative Linux. You can run Linux natively alongside Windows, and it’s much faster than your virtual machine.

However, updates and developments seem pretty slow. This is more of a dying breed so we wouldn’t recommend it if you want to get some actual work down. However, portable versions or slimmed down version of distros such as Portable Ubuntu Remix work quite well.

If you want to get a little bit of taste from Linux, you can try this out. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these distros haven’t been updated in years.

Existing Linux Programs On Windows

Since Linux isn’t always the go-to operating system for the average consumer, a lot of Linux programs have already been ported over to Windows. Well, technically they don’t actually run on Windows, but they do have their own online versions which actually work quite well.

However, if you absolutely need that program on Windows, perform a quick google search and you’ll most likely find it’s been ported over to Windows. This seems to be extremely common among popular Linux apps, such as GIMP (a popular image editor) or Emacs (a collection of text editors).

And that’s pretty much it. These are some of the more easier and convenient ways of getting Linux to run on your Windows device. Hopefully, this motivates you to try out Linux on your own. Even if you’re an experienced user, it’s always helpful having both operating systems running side by side.

On a side note, keep in mind that Linux distros can still face slow downs, just like any other Windows machine. So speed up that your system of yours with an NVMe SSD. If you’re having trouble deciding, consider giving this roundup of 6 best NVMe SSDs a read.

And if you’re a coder or designer, you obviously need a lot of screen real estate as well. So if you’re already in ne(ed of a new display, consider getting an Ultrawide monitor. Read PCguides’s definitive guide on the best ultrawide monitors of this era.

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