BurritoBazooka Apr 13, 2013 @ 7:03am
Have a go at hardware virtualization, and never dual boot again
edit: Anything posted in this opening post (about a year ago as of now) may be outdated! The linked guide is continually updated by powerhouse. /edit

If all your hardware can support hardware virtualization and PCI/VGA passthrough, you can do Xen (edit:or KVM) virtualization, and not need to dualboot. It's like running two operating systems simultaneously. There's a guide here:

http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=112013

It looks like quite a bit of effort. I think I'm going to consider it when the next LTS release comes out. I will probably need a different set of hardware.

Unfortunately, ATi cards are MUCH more likely to be supported. Only a few cards from nVidia are supported, but I saw rumors[www.gossamer-threads.com] on the mailing list for Xen that they might soon see support for them as a patch to the source code.

If anyone tries it, give us a bit of feedback so we know your experiences :) You can also feed back on the Linux Mint forums, which will be helpful to Mint users and anyone who uses that tutorial.
Last edited by BurritoBazooka; Mar 10 @ 3:56am
Showing 1-15 of 35 comments
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Fibbles Apr 13, 2013 @ 9:09am 
Most of my hardware supports it with the exception of my graphics card. It seems if you want to use VGA Passthrough you need a workstation card, e.g. an Nvidia Quadro or an AMD FirePro (though a few Radeon cards are supported). Workstation cards are generally A) much more expensive than consumer cards, and B) not as well tuned for games as consumer cards. I'd say this is a no-go for most of us. Unless you already have decent workstation and don't mind installing games on it, the cost of a professional card just isn't worth it. Especially when you consider you'll still have a full Windows install on your machine, you're only eliminating the need to dual-boot.
BurritoBazooka Apr 13, 2013 @ 9:15am 
Here's a link to a list of supported ATI cards, most of them look mid-range.
http://wiki.xen.org/wiki/XenVGAPassthroughTestedAdapters#ATI.2FAMD_display_adapters

The "rumors" link also mentions some successes with AMD consumer cards, and some efforts towards nVidia support.

Here's another thread I found while researching my current card:
http://xen.markmail.org/thread/lma6bbvv7tjrucwp
It's a mailing list, so you have to click for each new post. It's from three years ago. The OP contains a patch for Xen, which allegedly makes VGA passthrough on some consumer grade cards possible. Looks like for anyone trying this, it's hit and miss with nVidia cards.

A search[xen.markmail.org] of the same mailing list may yield more viable and recent results, like this one:
http://markmail.org/thread/3k5cc2ryf7sfpa4q
Doc Holliday Apr 13, 2013 @ 9:22am 
Radeon HD cards work
Fibbles Apr 13, 2013 @ 9:38am 
Hmm, your search of the mailing list suggests that this works with an Nvidia Geforce 8400 GS. That's not only an old card but also a budget card. I guess Xen's supported list has more to do with what their customers are likely to be using than which hardware can actually support the feature.

I may have a crack at getting this to work on an 8800 GT sometime over the next few days. I'll let you know how it goes.
SUSEd Apr 13, 2013 @ 9:56am 
Better to use wine.
BurritoBazooka Apr 13, 2013 @ 10:17am 
Originally posted by SUSEd:
Better to use wine.
Yeah, Wine would probably require less effort to work, but for me, hardware virtualization seems like a more promising solution, even though the effort is much higher.

On Wine, getting a game to run flawlessly is hit-and-miss. With virtualization, getting the virtualization to work right is hit-and-miss, but most games (AAA titles, as is often said here) would work flawlessly, from what I gather.
[Linux]Destiser Apr 13, 2013 @ 10:23am 
KVM is also an option btw
tengwarscribe Apr 13, 2013 @ 2:57pm 
Has anybody tried this with VirtualBox or QEMU?
Mischka Apr 13, 2013 @ 4:06pm 
Originally posted by tengwarscribe:
Has anybody tried this with VirtualBox or QEMU?

Such emulation softwares result in god awful performance in pretty much any game you'll try to play.
Doc Holliday Apr 13, 2013 @ 4:46pm 
Use a Nvidia Card for your Linux Box and a AMD card for windows virtualization you can have 2 cards in one cpu using Xen
LOLCAT Apr 13, 2013 @ 4:53pm 
Originally posted by Nemesis:
Use a Nvidia Card for your Linux Box and a AMD card for windows virtualization you can have 2 cards in one cpu using Xen
You can also buy a bigger desk and put 2 computers on it. One with windows and one with linux. You don't even have to reboot anymore, and have 100% native performance for all games.
BurritoBazooka Apr 13, 2013 @ 4:57pm 
Originally posted by tengwarscribe:
Has anybody tried this with VirtualBox or QEMU?
I think it will only work with KVM or Xen, since they are good at hardware virtualization. You can use QEMU as a frontend to KVM, if you like. I think most KVM users do that anyway.
Originally posted by LOLCAT:
Originally posted by Nemesis:
Use a Nvidia Card for your Linux Box and a AMD card for windows virtualization you can have 2 cards in one cpu using Xen
You can also buy a bigger desk and put 2 computers on it. One with windows and one with linux. You don't even have to reboot anymore, and have 100% native performance for all games.
Or multiseat, or some variation thereof, if you're feeling crazy. Here's me asking whether it's possible about a month ago: http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=128857&p=700153#p700153
tengwarscribe Apr 13, 2013 @ 8:04pm 
Originally posted by Mischka:
Originally posted by tengwarscribe:
Has anybody tried this with VirtualBox or QEMU?

Such emulation softwares result in god awful performance in pretty much any game you'll try to play.


Originally posted by BurritoBazooka:
Originally posted by tengwarscribe:
Has anybody tried this with VirtualBox or QEMU?
I think it will only work with KVM or Xen, since they are good at hardware virtualization. You can use QEMU as a frontend to KVM, if you like. I think most KVM users do that anyway.

Ok thanks for letting me know guys. I was wondering if anyone had made a progress there. I know of someone who tried to do this with VirtualBox a number of years ago. He was able to use it for serious gaming, but I think he had some very good expensive hardware for it.
tangram § Linux Apr 18, 2013 @ 9:03am 
I run Xen 4.1 on Debian Wheezy powering 2 domU HVM simultaneously on AMD Radeon HD 7850 and AMD Radeon HD 5850 each with assigned USB controllers and audio card.

Last year I even had an Intel HD4000 with VGA passthrough and it worked also. At the time I even blogged the process at http://linux-bsd-sharing.blogspot.pt/2012/10/howto-xen-413-windows-8-hvm-domu-with.html.

You just need the proper hardware, knowledge and time. If you do near native speeds await :D
tangram § Linux Apr 18, 2013 @ 9:07am 
Originally posted by LOLCAT:
Originally posted by Nemesis:
Use a Nvidia Card for your Linux Box and a AMD card for windows virtualization you can have 2 cards in one cpu using Xen
You can also buy a bigger desk and put 2 computers on it. One with windows and one with linux. You don't even have to reboot anymore, and have 100% native performance for all games.

You are missing the point.

With one computer and 2 graphics cards, 2 monitors, 2 keyboards, 2 mice and 2 audio cards and an hypervisor like Xen you have near speed (>95%) without dual booting or spending money on additional CPU, RAM, PSU, case, etc.
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