Take a quick look at the picture (at left) of my computer desktop. Can you see that I'm running the Windows operating system? Take a look at the tool bar at the bottom of the screen. Yep. That's the Windows "Start" button plain as day. So, I must be running Windows, right?
Well, yes, I am running Windows. Windows XP, to be specific. But I'm running Windows IN Linux. You can see my Linux tool bar at the top of the screen and the different style icons on the desktop that clearly indicate that this is a Linux desktop.
How is this possible?
Well, I'm using a program called Virtualbox. Virtualbox allows you to install a guest operating system on a Linux system. The guest operating system runs within Virtualbox. So, in effect, you can run many different operating systems on one desktop in this virtual environment.
Virtualbox is available in the Linux Mint repository and installs in just a couple of mouse clicks. Once it's up and running, you can then install a guest operating system (in this case, Windows) and through a feature called "Seamless", the guest operating system's Window frame disappears and the guest OS runs as if it were on your main desktop.
Take a look at the picture at right which shows Windows running as guest with the Seamless mode turned off.
So, if you're considering making the switch to Linux but are hesitating due to needing a specific windows program, you can solve this problem by installing Virtualbox and then installing Windows as a guest operating system. Once Windows is installed virtually, you can then install the program you need, toggle on Seamless mode, and run things in full Windows mode.
And given the speed of today's processors and the large amount of memory available in most computer systems, the guest operating system actually runs very close to native speeds. I run Intuit Quickbooks and MSMoney using Virtualbox. Both run fast. And through Virtualbox's shared folders feature, I have full access to all my files on the hard drive. I can also print documents to my HP printer.
With Virtualbox and Liux Mint, you now have one more solid reason to make the move to Linux.