Q

Loading an operating system with virtualization software

An open source software and apps expert tells why it would be better to offer a guest user option instead of doing away with a desktop.

Recently, I read your column: "Why new chips + Xen = dream machines". I think there's an even broader possibility with using Xen and the new virtualization-capable chips for running unmodified guest operating systems. If one added a nice login front-end, could you replace Citrix (or Windows Terminal Server) with a server that allowed each user to get their own Windows host? Large companies would dearly love to save the cost of supporting desktop operating systems, but Windows was never meant to be multi-user, and so applications that run on Citrix/WTS have to be modified to run in that environment, but most apps still assume a single-user paradigm.

A different approach is to keep the Windows desktop but have it loaded with virtualization software and offer a guest Windows. That way, if the end user changes something, it's in the hosted operating system rather than the "real" operating system, so recovery is much easier. Think trying to offer graphics-oriented apps via server virtualization would be quite difficult, but perhaps is possible.

To read Bernard's column, "Golden's Rules: Why new chips + Xen = dream machines," click here.

This was first published in May 2006

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