Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Switching To Debian

For the past month, I have been struggling with my laptop, running XP. Two bad things were happening:

* Generic Host Process for Win32 Services encountered a problem and needed to close
* Svchost.exe Application Error

Both of these conditions would have the same result - I could no longer start any new processes. All I could do was close what was running and reboot - except I couldn't really reboot, as that would never complete. The truth is, I had to pull the power cable and battery from my laptop and start it up again.

This happened from 4-7 times per day, making me rather unproductive. Our plan was to make XP a virtual machine, running in a Debian environment. This would give me the environment I so wanted, allow me to run Windows when I absolutely had to, and restart it when it had a problem.

I knew this wouldn't be a comfortable change, but that I would be better for it in the long run, so we decided to go for it. I'm writing about the decisions and experience so others can benefit, and because if successful, I may want to do this to another machine in the future.

The first choice we had to make was whether to install XP on a separate partition (in addition to the VM). I decided not to, as I wasn't overflowing with disk space.

Next, we did put in a partition which Windows and Debian could share. The idea is that I could use both the Debian tools and Windows in concert. We created to 20GB FAT partition for this purpose.

Finally, the VM (chosen for me) was Sun Virtual Box, rather than VMWare.

The configuration is complete, and I picked it up Friday. So far, its been a disaster - when the laptop is not wired to my corporate network. But it was a disaster before, so no big deal. We'll figure it out, and post it.

Update: See posts tagged SwitchToDebian in my blog.


Paul Di Biase said...

Debian is actually a GREAT os to be doing this on. on my deb system, the xp VM(vmware tho.. not virtual box) actually runs almost as fast if not faster than normal.

The part about sharing drives is a misconeption tho. I do not believe you're able to share the drives between host and guest. You CAN access them through network sharing... But not directly

Jeff Schmitz said...

Thanks Paul

I have no doubt we will get things worked out. It will be fun trying too. Stay tuned as I post what we find out.