My Computers, Linux, Virtualbox
I realized recently while looking at some data backup disks that I have been using Linux for 10 years as of Dec 2008. I started with Slackware, used Mandrake (now Mandriva) for quite a while as well as Suse and now mostly Ubuntu. I used to dual boot, then had a dedicated machine, now I run Linux with guest OSes under Virtualbox. Now I can try any Linux distro on this machine to try it out and see what it may have to offer. Though trying a real time Linux like Ubuntu Studio doesn’t work so well in my experience.
Virtual machines are probably more important to data centers and large installations but I find it really useful for more mundane things. For instance, most of the hardware that I own (cameras, midi equipment, etc) only have windows drivers. So I set up a virtual windows machine for photography, or whatever, and have a complete consistent environment set up for that task. This is easily backed up and updated and minimizes conflicting pieces of software. Since the virtual systems can communicate with my host system I can keep all my data seperate from the environment running it, again making backups easier.
As virtual appliances become available to set up environments for specialized packages it also makes installing specialized packages trivial.
For hardware on the machine in these examples I’m using Ubuntu 64 on an AMD64 Athlon dual core 6000+ processor with 8 gig of RAM. ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT graphics card. 1.5TB hard disk space. ASUS M2N32-SLI AM2 Motherboard. The following screenshots were taken at different times and different variations.