The lesser of two evils

After months of job hunting I finally got a job offer, an interesting work that requires significant Linux experience, however…

As a matter of company’s policy engineers can have as their workstation either Windows or Mac. I asked for Linux and it seems that this is not an option.

I know that Windows has the Linux subsystem, and mac is a sort of Unix – but I don’t give a damn. This is not GNU/Linux.

The only thing that I might reluctantly consider is treating the underlying OS as a hypervisor and running my real OS virtualized. (I wish that Linux was the host OS, but this is simply not in the cards).

So my question is, given a choice between Windows and Mac: Which can act as a better hypervisor for running a real OS inside of it?

You could go Mavrick and convert the harddrive in the work laptop into a disk image so you can boot it in Linux as a VM.

1 Like

@Ulfnic, I am not sure I follow, but please take as a given that the OS that runs on bear metal must be either Windows on a PC, or OSX on Mac.

For example, you’d plug in a USB hard drive into the work machine and install Linux on it. Then use it to clone the internal hard drive into an image on the external drive that can be used in VM software like virt-manager within that USB Linux enviroment.

Instead of cloning the internal drive you may be able to boot to it directly as a VM from within that USB Linux environment but i’ve never tried it:

Booting from an already existing Windows Partition in KVM/virt-manager - Linux - Level1Techs Forums

Obviously you should check if this is allowed or not defined in company policy and the best idea is to ask so your boss can scrunch up their face before telling you no. :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t have iOS or Windows WSL experience but i’m sure someone will chime in.

Phew, for a second I thought you were going to talk about politics.

1 Like

Unfortunately it is not, and while you presented an interesting solution, it relates to a different problem.

I wished I had a better way to phrase my question:

Disregarding any other feature of both Mac and Windows which is a better hypervisor to run GNU/Linux under?

In this case better is taking less resources, making the underlying OS as un-intrusive as possible and allowing me to ignore that I am forced to use something other than GNU/Linux.

Thanks, @astronautsupplier, can you say why you would pick a Mac in my position? How well its OS acts as a hypervisor? How much of the Mac OS I will need to interact with on a day to day basis until I will get to the host OS?

I would probably go the windows route.
Hyper-v has proven capable of virtualizing linux.
It’s what azure does all the time.

I’m not sure how the virtualization options on mac compare.

1 Like

If you’re able, just test both a little.

Usage wide, personally I find OS X unbearable to use due to many limitations it has (its default file manager won’t even let you cut and paste files, you need to drag them with mouse), but I I’am fine if I stay in the terminal (as it uses bash).

Windows has its all set of problems, but I can use if fine with being irritated all the time. Also it has WSL.

If Linux is absolutely not an option I’d suggest you opt for windows and run a VirtualBox VM with your favorite linux distro on top of it. Personally I think this is the lesser evil. Virtualization on mac os was effing terrible last time I checked.

What I would usually do in a similar situation is what I suggested, but not without pointing out that I can’t work efficiently on anything but Linux, and them forcing me to not use it means literally wasting my work hours, ultimately wasting company money on an arbitrary imposition on their part.

1 Like

So just use a Mac or Windows and do the job you were hired for. Use GNU plus Linux on your own time.

I’d take the Mac personally because it’s a certified bona fide UNIX system and takes marketshare away from Windows.


Work machines often aren’t too powerful and virtualization comes with cost. Most people will do better with customizing Windows or OSX to match their preferences.

Virtualization isn’t usually that high of an overhead, plus trying doesn’t hurt.

Go Windows, in the event you can convince them later on to install Linux as host you’ll have a much better time with the hardware.

Thank you all for your insights.

At the end, after negotiation with my new employer, I got a desktop that runs GNU/Linux on premises, and a Thinkpad with Windows as a hypervisor that runs GNU/Linux under VirtualBox.

With some luck the GNU/Linux desktop might act as a proof-of-concept, and perhaps could be an option in the future for engineering workstations.

1 Like

that is really great news to here, Linux really is great for business world in 2020. I have similar story.

I got a bachelor in computer science and master in software engineering (excellent marks top tear university reason why I got accepted as a university lecturer and researcher) and decided to get a MBA while worked in academy as university lecturer / researher (operating systems and internet technologies) and a cool Ivy League Executive Leadership program I got into around 2007.

Until 2007 I was windows user, last I used WinXP, but left it for MacOS in 2007 along with my MBA,
while doing the cool Ivy League Executive Leadership MacOS seems like a better option then WinOS.

I was always interested in Linux since the first version of Fedora/CentOS 2003 2005 but as VMs.
in 2010/2011 I did a lvy league data science specialization and I 2011 left my academia job and went into private sector in the telecom business, data center sys admin where I was using Linux for work debian servers and ubuntu desktop in 2010 I moved fully home and work to Linux |(home Linux mint).

Few years after that the telecom company moved to another OS and gave us 3-6 months to migrate all to Windows, I used to time to find a better job my most important criteria was Linux at work at any price.

with my profile 2 ivy league training programs 2 masters MBA and software engineering (both great universities top50-100 world wide and excellent marks) in 2010 it was really easy to change jobs 10 years experience I was ready for entry level management job. I got 2 great offers with great companies. 1 was only windows, one was mac os. the recruiter was who cares what OS they use, I said I do no thank you. the migration was almost out and 1 month before I had to leave I was contacted (out of the blue) by a research institute and they told me I was perfect to lead their small team of few people as new data science head, but I had to start with BSD, company used BSD and was interested in possible migration to Linux but it was just a possible option not sure decision (I said like you even if the migration never happens BSD is better then macos or windows compared to the other jobs) I accepted.

rewind 7 years later, from my firs team the five people are managers now and I manage 3 teams with 2 new forming at the moment all of the five original members are now team leaders (2 of them will be by the end of the year) and the sys admins or dev ops now consider me part of the team and honorary members since I made their jobs easier with Linux not about the server but the users in our company, less issues, Linux has more users then BSD bugs gets solved sooner and many of the Linux forums are very helpful and it is really easy to debug+find a solution for Linux Desktop vs BSD. the core sys admin is a close friend a was a godfather to his kid and the wedding he is planned for my upcoming wedding.

regarding Linux, I had to use BSD for first 3 months to learn the systems and we spend 1 year recode and 1 year on migration after 2 years we moved 90% to Linux entire corporation with Red Hat support, I use Fedora cause I like it more then the Red Hat Enterprise Linux, that is great for the non it people.
at the moment we have one BSD server with legacy apps we cannot recode before 1990, one BSD or PfSense firewall (soon to be replaced with endian firewall based on Linux RHEL when we get the wireguard working on Linux) and our nextcloud hosted on BSD (will probably be moved later on on Fedora Server or CentOS) when we get a working ZFS partition on RHEL Linux (I expect in few years).
Our best selling point for Linux at start was a FUN PC in the break room: arcade game PC with mame arcade games on it and music+tv on it, give the people fun stuff to do in Linux at first not just work.

Yeah and I am full linux at home, endian, openwrt, tablet/phone, IoT, PC, nexcloud. all fedora + manjaro.

In my personal life I managed to convert many of my friends to Linux windows and MacOS users all of them are happier for it (I always had an older laptop to borrow for them to play games and watch movies and surf on, best strategy to convert people to Linux give them fun stuff to do on them at first not work).
even my current GF and fiance (she was a die hard MacOS fan girl for 15 years) now Linux user for few years I even managed to convict her best friend and she used to work in Apple for 10 years, they both use manjaro GNOME (closest to macos) but the like the KDE plasma DE its shiny and looks cool.

I accepted similar situation agreed to BSD even when I wanted Linux on start and later on it turned into a Linux job when I managed to convince the management Linux was a better option.

When it comes to windows or macos vs Linux you might have easier job converting your team.

BEST OF LUCK with Linux
Regards, Alex


If it was me I would at least choose Mac over windows as atleast it does have a Unix heritage sorta

1 Like

Same BSD 4.3 heritage as the BSDs and HP-UX.

1 Like

So I got a ThinkPad T490 with intel core i7-8565u and 16G of memory running Windows 10.

I running the latest version of VirtualBox 6.1.16 under Windows. I also enabled all the virtualization options I could find in the BIOS and in VirtualBox. I staled away from WSL1/WSL2 since I read that the performance of VirtaulBox with is significantly worst than native the default Virtualization.

I created a single VM which I gave 6 cores out of the available 8 and 10GB out of the available 16GB and 80MB of video memory out of 128MB, and installed Kubuntu 20.04 with the VirtualBox client extensions.

The result is almost - but not quite - usable.

I can do most of my work, but the audio stutters. Sometimes part of my screen stops getting mouse clicks, and when I am trying to drive more that a single monitor with 1920x1200 resolution, screen redrawing and mouse movement is sluggish.

I didn’t remember this was that bad.

Is vt x/amd-v actually enabled in de bios? Otherwise virtualization is rather inefficient.