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Chapter 28. Multibooting Windows XP with... > The Virtual Machine Approach

The Virtual Machine Approach

If you need access to multiple operating systems primarily for testing purposes, rather than for long periods of work, you can enjoy the use of multiple operating systems without any of the hassle of multiboot setups. In fact, you can even use multiple operating systems simultaneously on the same computer. It’s done with a setup called a virtual machine. It’s an old concept (IBM used it on its mainframes back in the 1970s) that’s making a big comeback thanks to today’s fast processors and huge hard disks.

A virtual machine program emulates (simulates) in software all the hardware functions of a PC. It lets an entire operating system (called a guest operating system) run as an ordinary application program on a host operating system, such as Windows XP. Because all the hardware functions are emulated, the guest OS doesn’t “know” it’s not in complete control of a computer. When it attempts to physically access a hard disk, display card, network adapter, or serial port, the virtual machine program calls on the host operating system to actually carry out the operation.


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