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Chapter 28. Multibooting Windows XP with... > The Virtual Machine Approach - Pg. 879

Multibooting Windows XP with Other Operating Systems 879 Enabling these file systems to automatically mount in Linux involves a procedure that is out of the scope of this discussion. Although it is possible, only experienced Linux users should attempt to modify the system's boot time mount parameters. Typically, the changes needed to automount foreign file systems are made in /etc/fstab. Red Hat Linux includes a GUI utility, called linuxconf, that makes this task much simpler. Consult the documentation that came with your Linux distribution. 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 since the 1970s--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. Even though the software might need to execute several hundred instructions to emulate one hard- ware operation, the speed penalty is only 5%­10%. And, if a guest OS crashes, it doesn't take down your system. You can simply click a Reset menu choice and "reboot" the virtual machine. Check out Figure 28.6, where I have DOS, Linux, and Windows Me running in separate virtual machines.