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Tired of Windows? Practice Linux in Windows; No Dual-Boot - Here's How

LuculentOct 16, 2016, 7:43:03 PM

Ive used all three of the major operating systems: Mac, MS Windows, and Unix/Linux over the past 4 decades. Let me briefly relate why I prefer Linux today over the rest.

My first PC was a Macintosh Quadra 605 with a 80Mb hard disk, 4Mb RAM and a 2400 baud rate modem. I primarily used it for creating spreadsheets, composing lab reports and the like back in college; mostly to use office application software. It was really good for that, and since I had very little end-user experience, it was quite easy to get going on. In fact it took less than 20 minutes from the time I took it out of the box, to the point of booting into the Mac OS. However, as I became more interested and more fluent with computers, I realized how the proprietary nature of Apple hardware hindered the value of their over-priced products. Honestly, I’ve never owned another Apple product since. From then on, I almost always built my own PC’s that often ran MS Windows.

I hated Windows 3.1, but steadily liked each new version up to and including windows 7. Sure, there were some things I didn’t like about Windows, but I had a lot more freedom to customize, and the hardware was by far more bang for the dollar. Software of all types was almost always developed for Windows, especially games. Just after XP became available, I started dual-booting Debian Linux. Linux was not as good then as it is now, and although I practiced with it, I mainly booted into Windows.

Then I upgraded to Windows 8. It was about then where I was really getting fed up with Microsoft. Without going into to much detail, let me simply outline a few of my major gripes that finally let me to all but abandon Microsoft for good after using Windows 10.

Strictly from a security standpoint, even though MS is pretty good at keeping their software up to date, and at present its antivirus is good, it’s just a fact that because of the shear volume of Windows users, a ton more malware is created to affect it.

  I spoke of upgrading and updating. As of Windows 8.1, Microsoft has become down-right tyrannical. Many users are all but forced into upgrading to Windows 10 from all other versions. If you don’t upgrade immediately, you are hounded constantly until you do. I know of one person whom was in the middle of playing an online game, when Windows simply took over his machine, and upgraded it to Windows 10 without any notification or confirmation. Honestly, its this kind of aggressive tactic that makes me wonder exactly why Windows 10 is so important to Microsoft, and probably the governments of the world. It’s also why I rarely use Windows anymore.

While I’m on the issue of big companies (Apple, Microsoft, Verizon, Comcast…etc) and governments, I think it’s fair game to talk a little about online surveillance. PRISM and ECHELON are worth looking into if you are not aware of their mission to collect whatever personal data they can gather, often unscrupulously,  and store it on massive databases, which are then shared with intelligence agencies world wide. This leads me back to Windows 10. I wonder if it’s truly even possible to stop Windows from sending data from your PC to Microsoft every time you logon to a session, a session of any sort crashes, or even seemingly at times for no apparent reason. Whats worse is that it’s near impossible to turn it off! I’ve spent hours inside settings and have also had to resort to using third-party softwares just to get a handle on it, and even then, something still leaks through occasionally. Good, bad or indifferent, a user should be able to opt-out of such a data-siphon. This leads back to the question of why is it so important people upgrade to Windows 10.

  The issue of wrenching you into upgrading to Windows 10, and the fact that it siphons data without the option to keep the OS from doing so brings out the conspiracy theorist in me. Is it really only a theory? Honestly, why would an international giant like Microsoft spend months of manpower and resources developing Windows 10, then thank you for taking it for free? Make no mistake of it, nothing is free.

Enough diatribe over my peeves with Microsoft and Windows. The main focus of this article is to explain how you can learn to run Linux, a free and open source operating system that does not unwantingly collect data, allows the freedom to let you decide when and what to upgrade. For me, I have many issues with both Microsoft and Apple as far as their business ethics, and I simply don’t support them by giving either of them my hard-earned money.

All that being said, now is the time where I tell you how to run a distribution of Linux on your Windows machine without the need to dual-boot. The way you can do this is to run your distribution of Linux as a virtual machine, with your current installation of Windows as a host, and Linux  as a guest. It’s very easy to do this, will cost you not so much as one cent, and will allow you to safely practice using Linux without damaging your Windows installation. Rather than post a buch of written steps with snapshots, it will simply be easier to watch the video I post below, and pause them as needed while you follow along. I only wish it could have been like that for me the first time I performed this ritual.

First, I’ll tell you what you need for software, and where to get it. Then I’ll put up a video, which is clear and well produced. Nothing you do here will screw up the current state of your PC, even if you make a mistake, which you wont, it’s that easy.

You will need the following softwares. You will want to create a folder someplace other than on your desktop for these (it’s better that you do).

If you want to know why I advise and prefer Debian, you can look why here.

If you want to know more about VirtualBox before you download it, you can have a look here.

Here is the video that will take you step by step through the entire simple process. I advise to watch it first, then again while you perform the procedure yourself, pausing the video when needed.

That’s all there is to it. Now that you have Debian running in a virtual machine on your Windows desktop, you can take whatever time you need to become familiar with it. Use it and learn it at your own pace. It’s not nearly as difficult as many people believe. These days you don’t really even ‘need’ to use the terminal if you don’t want to. After you become fluent enough, you can be done with Windows for good, and install Linux as your main operating system. From there, you can build a truly bullet-proof system which will allow you to reasonably avoid any and all surveillance, something you simply can not achieve under the Windows operating system.

PS: I realize that Debian might be a bit troublesome for newer folks trying out Linux. You can alternatively use MX-15 Linux, or Linux Mint as a replacement for Debian if you so choose. I'll link below to their respective sites, and videos to help you installing them as virtual machines if you need them.

MX Linux is a cooperative venture between the antiX and former MEPIS communities, using the best tools and talents from each distro and including work and ideas originally created by Warren Woodford for his MEPIS project. It is a midweight OS designed to combine an elegant and efficient desktop with simple configuration, high stability, solid performance and medium-sized footprint.

Relying on the excellent upstream work by Linux and the open-source community, they deploy Xfce4 as Desktop Environment on top of a Debian Stable base, drawing from the core antiX system. Ongoing backports and outside additions to our Repos serve to keep components current with developments. Details here.

The video blow will be just fine for your purpose. MX-15 should have VB Guest additions installed and working upon the first boot; nothing for you to do.

The purpose of Linux Mint is to produce a modern, elegant and comfortable operating system which is both powerful and easy to use.

Linux Mint is one of the most popular desktop Linux distributions and used by millions of people.

Some of the reasons for the success of Linux Mint are:

  • It works out of the box, with full multimedia support and is extremely easy to use.
  • It's both free of cost and open source.
  • It's community-driven. Users are encouraged to send feedback to the project so that their ideas can be used to improve Linux Mint.
  • Based on Debian and Ubuntu, it provides about 30,000 packages and one of the best software managers.
  • It's safe and reliable. Thanks to a conservative approach to software updates, a unique Update Manager and the robustness of its Linux architecture, Linux Mint requires very little maintenance (no regressions, no antivirus, no anti-spyware...etc).

Oracles Virtual Box is a very powerful and easy to use software. It's the best way for you to test out various Linux distributions without harming your Current Windows OS. Once you have learned the ins and outs of Linux, you will be better equiped in making the choice of which operating system you want to support, buy using it daily. Would you prefer a free open source operating system that does everything you need it to do and more, or paying dearly for operating systems like Microsoft Windows or Apple OS that spy and record your every move upon nearly every click, and capitulates to governments requests for that information (if not out-rightly collecting it FOR them). The choice is yours.