indeed, any modern machine should have no problem sparing 1 or 2 cores and 1gig of ram for xp installation. Granted, some heavier PS/ACad/Matlab jobs may require 100% available resources and booting windows is a natural choice then, but i don't consider MSO a heavy use, millions of people do that every day on underpowered cheapass laptops with no problem.
another option is to run linux in virtual box inside windows. also very easy to setup (http://www.psychocats.net/ubuntu/virtualbox) i use it like that because i mostly need windows on one maschine.
you can even run live linux directly from image. this is very good if you need to quickly test a distro and don't want to burn and CD or write the image to USB.
office 2007 does install in wine, but i am not sure how well the programmes in it work.
I went down the Virtualbox path a number of years ago with no major complaints from from my other half who has to use some windows specific programs for accounting for my business activities. There are absolutely no compatibility problems because you are not running an emulation but a real installation which has access to your hardware.
If your computer specs are reasonable there is never any reason to dual boot unless you really want to play games which might not work well in WINE. If you are an avid gamer you might want to run Ubuntu in Virtual box on Windows and use the Ubuntu side play around with another operating system or maybe just use it for Internet access. You will probably never get a virus or malware if you use your Linux instance for internet access instead of windows.
My computer specs for reference. Thinkcentre M57P SFF, 3GHz E8400, 8 Gigs Ram, Nvidia GT430 Video, 64bit Ubuntu 12.04. Quite an old machine but upgraded to the max and probably slow compared to whats available now. My Virtualbox install of WIndows 7 Pro (32bit, haven't tried 64bit) gets to a usable desktop much faster than my Toshiba I5 64bit Windows 7 Home Premium Laptop. No doubt the laptop is also trying to load some Toshiba bloatware but I have removed much of it. When benchmarked though the Laptop is significantly faster than the Virtualbox instance. With 8 Gigs of ram I allocate 2 gigs to the Windows instance and it does run reasonably fast. In my experience it is best use a 64bit operating sytem as the host system. I found that loading very large Excel files painfully slow with a 32bit Ubuntu host and 32 bit Windows. When I changed to a 64bit Ubuntu host the files loaded at least twice as fast.
Best of luck in what you decide but running Virtual box in either Ubuntu or WIndows does have a number of advantages depending on your hardware specs and how fast you really need your hosted OS to be.
I have not needed to boot my computer into windows since 2006. And in fact, the only reason I booted it was so I could write work reports like "Works in windows but not in WINE". I leave the dual boot option only because the computer is not only mine.
There are always trade offs.
I think both virtualBox and dual boot are equal in regards to difficulty of setting them up (they are both non-trivial, in my opinion).
VirtualBox has the disadvantage that you need good RAM. Although I found that in order to run windows XP with a single program (e.g: Excel) you don't need a lot of RAM, seems 500MB is all right.
The main advantage of VirtualBox, to me is that rebooting takes ages to be done. It can break your work flow greatly. VirtualBox on the other hand allows you to start windows without further headache. Since the windows has no internet connection and only has vital packages like MSOffice, it boots very fast and is very light.
VirtualBox has a seamless mode, which means that beyond booting your virtual machine, you can otherwise run the windows app in question in your desktop just fine. You can Copy paste from your Linux programs to windows.
The second advantage I would say is disk space. Separate partitions are a headache when you assign too many space to one OS and too little to the other. With virtualBox, besides of some GB destined to the OS and its apps, you can otherwise use a folder from ubuntu as a "network disk" in VirtualBox and you go on editing your documents.
VirtualBox also gave me the gift of hardware support. There was a time in the last years in which my scanner would not work in ubuntu (It works now), so I needed to run my VirtualBox window (It has USB support, which is great).
Finally, it sets you for a better transition to ubuntu. You keep using your Ubuntu Desktop Environment of choice and get used to it. As opposed to booting into windows and using the old taskbar. It prevents you from sticking to windows apps that can be replaced with ubuntu apps. Like Firefox/Chromium or media players.
Dual boot has the advantage that it is easier to allow other people to use windows in your computer with a guest account or an account of their own. And it also has less RAM requirements and can use the GPU full (this means it can run games, virtualBox is not that good at games).
(For games, I use WINE. Now that is a case in which dual booting takes much less work than not dual booting.)
Last edited by vexorian; August 28th, 2012 at 03:42 PM.
imho not really, partitioning part to set up nice dual boot is the most annoying step possible (especially when OEMs thoughtfully have used up all 4 primary partitions on your laptop), repartitioning takes a lot of time, there is a non-zero risk of data loss.I think both virtualBox and dual boot are equal in regards to difficulty of setting them up (they are both non-trivial, in my opinion)
Nothing on the vbox side can match that. Move bunch of sliders to define size of storage, available memory etc, run iso/cd, next, next, next, ok, done. If you mess up and can't change the required settings, you don't have to repartition again, just wipe the image and start from scratch.
I have like 5 different ubuntu releases in my vbox for testing purposes, because install is braindead easy and takes 20 minutes (+10 to download iso), most of which you spend watching youtube. Partition for test installs of the latest ubuntu releases sees my activity maybe once per month.
Two things I have going for me:
-I don't need to boot Windows for anyone else that uses my computer.
-I enjoy games, but none that are too demanding of resources. Also, Humble Bundle games from what I remember seem to usually/always have a Linux download option.
What I don't have going for me is my computer is an older laptop (~5/6 years) with 3 gigs of RAM. I recall wanting to upgrade and finding out it can only handle 1 more gig. The hardware seems to be the limiting factor there.
So it's having an older computer combined with wanting to use demanding Windows programs like Photoshop that makes me think I should dual boot. Maybe however many years down the road when I have enough cash for a new computer it will be a better choice to use VirtualBox for my Windows program needs. I like the point that using VirtualBox would force me to get used to the Ubuntu environment.