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Five apps to make the Linux desktop business-ready

With the right apps could Linux run your business desktop PCs? Jack Wallen thinks so.

It used to be quite the challenge to make a Linux desktop business-ready. Most every business depended upon niche, proprietary software that simply could not be run on anything but Windows. However, times have changed and so much of business is now handled through a web browser. Add to that how much the Linux platform has matured and you have the makings for a big win on the open source front.

This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic Screenshot Gallery.

If you're still one of those who think it not possible to conduct your everyday business from Linux, I'm here to tell you those days are over. With the help of five applications, you can enjoy the power, stability, reliability, flexibility, and security of Linux. You'll be surprised how common these tools are. Let's take a look.

Five Apps

1. Chrome

So much of business is handled through a web browser. Why not use one of the fastest browsers on the market? Google Chrome not only has speed behind it, it also offers a host of add-ons to further extend Chrome's usefulness. The only caveat is the lack of ActiveX available for Linux. The lack of ActiveX is not on Chrome's shoulders - the tool simply doesn't exist for Linux. There is one solution for this - IEs4Linux. By using Wine, you can get IEs4Linux working and, with a bit of work, can even get ActiveX involved in the mix. Outside of ActiveX, Chrome will stand tall as a business-ready browser to make Linux fully capable.

2. Thunderbird

Most would say there is no replacement for Outlook. Prior to discovering both Exquilla and Lightning Exchange Provider, I would have agreed. With the addition of those two plugins (along with the Lightning plugin) it is now possible for you to connect with your Exchange server. For more information on how to set up Exquilla, check out my article "Connect the Thunderbird Email Client to your Exchange Server". Once you have the extensions in place (and Thunderbird connected to your Exchange server), you'll never miss Outlook again.

3. Scribus

If you have a need to create professional looking PDF documents (and most businesses do), Scribus is a must have. Sure you can create a document in LibreOffice and easily export it to PDF, but with Scribus you're dealing with a professional-grade layout tool. Layers, transparencies, frames, CMYK support, ICC profile support, PDF, EPS, SVG import, and much more can help you create professional brochures, pamphlets, interactive PDFS (with fields and forms), training manuals, and even books.

4. LibreOffice

No business desktop is complete without an office suite. As far as Linux is concerned, there are two major options: LibreOffice and Kingsoft Office. Though I prefer the Kingsoft Office word processor, it lacks one of the major tools necessary for businesses - a database. With LibreOffice, you get everything you need: Word processor, Spreadsheet, Presentation, Drawing, Formula, and Database. And with LibreOffice's add-on system, you can expand the office suite well beyond the default capabilities.

5. VirtualBox

Finally, there might well be times when you have a piece of proprietary, niche software that simply must be run on Windows. When that happens, you can load up a virtual machine inside of VirtualBox and run nearly any OS you choose. Mac users have been doing this with Parallels for a while now, so what's stopping Linux users from enjoying a multiple-platform environment? Nothing. And with VirtualBox virtual machines, you ensured you never have to worry about not being able to run the tools you need. There is a downside; you need to have enough resources (RAM especially) and a valid license for the Microsoft operating system.

Bottom line

The way business is done has changed. Modern desktops are no longer as much about platform as they are about connectivity. With a browser and a few handy tools, you can have Linux running your business desktops faithfully and reliably. Of course, not every business is created equal. There are needs that cannot be met with certain platforms (or a single platform). In those cases, you'll be glad you have a tool like VirtualBox to level the playing field.

Also read:

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

52 comments
sweekrith
sweekrith

This is very interesting and thank you for this article, but I feel it may not be practical especially when you are in a service industry catering(not sure of other industry - not my domain) to clients using Windows and Office enterprise versions.

Other than the cost of Windows and Office, it is a very widely used tool for its excellent features and user interface. If businesses have incompatible versions of office and emails , it will create and bit of additional work. Risk of errors are also high.

I do enjoy Linux. It is very cool. But for a business I am not sure if it still ready.

Condemned
Condemned

I couldn't agree more - SoftMaker Office for Linux is by far the best office suite.


LibreOffice is slow, buggy, has an ugly UI, and destroys most formatting when opening Word, Excel, or PowerPoint files.


Kingsoft Office has a better UI, and a better compatibility than LO, but one the one hand interoperability with MSO isn't still as good as that of SoftMaker Office (I couldn't open several MSO documents at all, others had flaws), it also has many quirks. To mention a few: Language only Chinese or English, no thesaurus, no portable use, changes regional settings by every launch, spreadsheets are hardcoded to use dot instead of comma for decimal separator (which makes it unsuitable for Europeans), and such more.


SoftMaker Office for Linux is feature-packed, coding is tight, and program is small and runs fast, but especially its compatibility with Microsoft Office formats of all kinds is simply unrivaled. If you don't know this office suite yet, try it out, a  free 30 day trial downloadis is available on the website of SoftMaker
marcdw
marcdw

Office suites usually contain lots of things I rarely use. For that reason I use SoftMaker Office on Linux (and Windows, too). Lightweight, fast, and includes just the basics. But once again this suite gets left out. I wasn't aware there was a Kingsoft Office for Linux (as the article suggests).

arhemian
arhemian

+ You can share files to certain groups of people or specific proyects, avoiding big emails on your inbox!. + You and your peers can receive changes on files in a synchronized way automatically (Inheriting the Power of GIT, which is outstanding for handling changes). + Your shared files can remain safe and organized in a so efficient repository. + You can access to "file versions" which means you can come back to your older changes from last days or weeks, by a simple click on the ! ;- ) + And with a bit more effort you can share and expose specific files to the Internet by different options like HTTP. Of course a Must for Linux desktop business-teams :- )

mcumbee
mcumbee

Many wont brave the switch out of fear or having to learn a new piece of software and I am sure that there are many proprietary custom written pieces of software that require a windows system ..but business used to run on Nix and when you need rock solid stability they still do. So the turn to microsoft was simply a matter of cost, good marketing and ease of use. Other than the marketing piece that is where Linux is quickly moving.

jbeckwith
jbeckwith

I've recently come across Bodhi Linux which has a app available in it's app store called 'crossover' I've yet to try it, but the Bodhi AppCentre says this about it: "CrossOver allows you to install many popular Windows applications on your Mac or Linux computer" Thought this might be handy for someone

texadactyl
texadactyl

Desktops (thick or thin) are quite different from servers. Desktops are still largely Windows-based. Most large companies are in transition from Windows XP to Windows 7, skipping Vista. Many of them are using Citrix thin client workstations with Citrix/Windows back-end servers. Mac has made some in-roads but is still a minority player in corporate desktops. With the exception of IBM Mainframes and MS Exchange corporate mail, the trend is for servers to migrate from Windows to Redhat Enterprise Linux and other enterprise distributions. Some folks are braving DIY freeware distributions like CentOS, Fedora, and Ubuntu where support seems to be top tier. So, looking forward, I'd say that Linux certainly has a bright future as the mainstream middle-tier and back-end provider for web services, database services, large-scale computing, repositories, and libraries. Microsoft lost out in these areas and it is not likely that they can do anything about that.

netadmin
netadmin

and then you might have a chance of getting it enterprise ready.

g01d4
g01d4

I think his point is that many of the original 'must have' applications are now accessible remotely via the browser and that if you're not ready or willing to go all cloud you can use Linux.

hawkeye96
hawkeye96

Not an IT manager, but I am interested in their challenges. This article touts apps with too-brief explanations about advantages, but without caveats. For example, Chrome is anathema to me because Google exploits it to steal as much information from me about me as it can, and it uses up my desk time while I wait for it to collect and off-load the data. And Libre Office has been a disaster for me; it's all-to-frequent "updates" are not adequately coordinated across its components. As a result, for example, it's converter for Windows DOCs simply collapses some crucial documents from other members of my team, especially if the document contains a simple table. If it does that to tables in its word processor, could its spreadsheets be similarly junked by conversion to and from Windows formats? I don't ask you to answer these questions. I only mention them as examples of real problems that these five apps pose, none of which you acknowledge in touting them to the broad world.

rwwff
rwwff

To the above question... RPD to a windows server standard will do you fine given a couple requirements. Stuff the server machine with as much memory as it will support. Purchase enough terminal service client licenses so your users don't bump each other off. Standard as shipped allows only two for basically a one user, one admin type simultaneous connection. What you want is 5,10,or whatever different concurrent users.

rwwff
rwwff

I think by niche the article means those in-house developed applications, or very small distribution specialty apps that go with specific hardware; there are some that are even hard coded to refuse to run on anything other than a very specific release of windows. (win xp pro 32bit for example). VM&cloud-ish solutions though are awesome, both with Linux host and Windows host OS/s; I like VMWare workstation over virtualbox; and run it on a Linux host to preserve older guest windows releases as guests keeping the ability to run ancient 16bit code long into the future; and I also find that my Windows host often ends up with a screen fully of PuTTY's Also, usually do all my rdp/vnc from the Linux host, as KRDC is a superior user interface to that functionality when you typically connect and disconnect to several systems throughout the day. For a basic office worker though... I'm not sure you gain anything with a Linux desktop; the machine probably came with a windows license, open source software runs just fine on windows, so I get a "why bother" feeling about that implementation.

ccs9623
ccs9623

is primarily cost. BUT, I can't legally run a copy of Windows in Virtual Box without a Windows license so what good does it really do me? The reality is that most (90% ?) of business software is Windows based so its not like most businesses can do away with Windows on the desktop (even this article confirms that). So if I have to buy a Windows license anyway, why support two OS on the desktop? I know the other argument is "security". I've been in this business for 30 years, and currently support 250 end users. I have NEVER, repeat NEVER, had a security breach due to the OS. Patch management and multi-layered malware protection is a must and any admin that doesn't do these things properly is in the wrong business. What I can see however, is to run VMware Player (or any of the others) on Windows so I can run Linux at the same time. If and when I find 'THE killer Linux-only application'. So far, there isn't one. People don't by an O/S. They don't by the "PC". They buy the application that does what they need doing. If its MAC based, they get a MAC. If its Windows based, they get a PC. So where is the 'must have' business app for Linux?

What the ...!
What the ...!

I've tried for couple of years to run a linux shop at home but the wife (who has extensive exposure to M$ Office Pro at work) says that scribus is not an equal to Publisher. She claims it lacks several tools that *should* be rudimentary to a publishing/brochure layout App. The only one I can personaly attest to is not being able to find a way to bend text to a radius or arc. It may be there but if it is available, it is hiding in plain site as I could not find it. Given that seemingly trivial ommission, what else might be missing in the depths of the program?

Colin Beagrie
Colin Beagrie

All the apps mentioned have their merits and if that's what the customer wants to use, who really should be arguing. However, in this day and age when more IT departments are providing SaaS or PaaS, we can be more agnostic about it... I myself use a Mac in a heavily Windows biased environment but I can still use the Enterprise Apps provided to me through a Citrix XenDesktop environment,

LeMike
LeMike

One thing you missed - a Remote Desktop program (RDP). My favourite is Remmina and another user offered a list of several, but this is the way forward. Another respondent pointed out that niche products aren't going to be converted - like Quickbooks. Dentrix. WinDent. SoftDent. AltaPoint. Yardi. Sesame (his list). Hence the use of VirtualBox if you need full-time access to them, or an RDP program if you can share one copy between several users, and have just one Windows Applications Server machine running these programs. That also has the advantage of being easier to back up, so data safety improves.

carlsf
carlsf

If Microsoft KEEP releasing inferior products to Business/Corporate, and they cannot produce a profit, then MS will be too late to wake up. We have already decided (business with 115 users), if WINDOWS 8 and OFFICE 2013 do not return the Start button and Menu along with 2010 features in Office 2013 then we are gone to..... WIN7 & Office 2010 until we cannot get updates then.... Zorin 6 (Linux) or Google Docs.

jqbecker
jqbecker

no one is ever going to commit a business to Linux. There are too many line-of-business apps that don't run on Linux. Quickbooks. Dentrix. WinDent. SoftDent. AltaPoint. Yardi. Sesame. and many more... ( I support dental offices and real estate offices, go figure). You'd have to persuade 1000's of ISV's to port over 10,000 apps to Linux before it will ever take off. Sorry.

henry
henry

OK guys I would like some advice from people who really do know???.!!! Can a user with say Linux Ubuntu login via RDS (previously Terminal Server) to a newly built Windows 2012 server box and run their virtualised desktop on the server from an Ubuntu computer? I would love to be able to offer my new client this facility as the need for some new hardware could be alleviated by using Ubuntu the only Linux OS I am familiar with. Do any of you more experienced guys know if this can be done and how? I am open to using other types of Linux if this is needed to make it happen.

twin798
twin798

I agree about the drivers. It keeps Linux off from a lot of computers. Epson scanners and label printers for instance. Also no iTunes. Business folks run away.

ubwete
ubwete

this post could use some enhancements: 1: Using VMs on a Windows box, just to get Linux through the door, will be seen, unfortunately as an attention-seeking ruse. Yet, Linux works very well on its own. 2:There are better end-user software choices, and considerations, for a hardware-installed Linux box. The Zimbra communication suite should not miss being mentioned. The Chrome browser may be fast, but it is the feature set that would exite CTOs/CIOs. Most open-source browsers are able to be tweaked to their satisfaction.

Gisabun
Gisabun

Seems this isn't a popular topic with just 2 commernts [excluding Mr. Kaelin's post]. Linux ready for business? Not really. Central management issues. Still issues finding proper printer drivers [and not workarounds]. Still many major applications with no Linux equivalent. Running VirtualBox [errr "VirbualBox"] to run a Windows guest doesn't solve the problem as you are then running the equivalent of two separate systems and using Windows in a VM to run business applications that Linux can't. A bit like cheating.

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

In my business, it's the opposite...Linux software is "niche". Chrome? Not my business, none of it is handled in a web browser. I use Slackware some at home, only as a hobby. Most of my productivity applications are Windows based, though I kind of like Caligra.

ccs9623
ccs9623

That is probably true. And I know the "cloud" will not be an option in the future, but for now I can still control my own data and as long as I can avoid gleefully handing it over to someone else, I will.

ccs9623
ccs9623

I hate to break this to you, but it doesn't matter what browser you use, nor what search engine you like best. The same information Google collects is collected by everyone else. It's not browser specific. If you want "privacy", don't use the Internet. Do you happen to know what your own ISP does with the data sent across its lines? You might want to look into that.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

He listed a few. There are more. What makes them compelling for business? You answered it: Co$t. Cost of purchasing a suite of apps (and their upgrades) for a set of PCs. Cost of purchasing an OS (and its upgrades) for a set of PCs. Cost of repairing the damage when malware infects systems. (You are quite lucky to have never had a breach, and probably NOT in the majority. My firm of 5000+ has had more than one in the past, and they are SUPER careful about security/patch/protection.) Cost. And cost is justification enough -- for most businesses. The irony with Linux is that you don't have to go "down to a price instead of up to a standard"; you can go down to a low price AND up to a standard of quality simultaneously. That's rare. Most business work involves apps that are platform-independent (whether by Parallels/Virtualbox, emulators, ported apps, alternatives, web versions, etc.). In my 5000+ person firm, you'll find as many non-Windows users as Windows users. Somehow we have yet to trip over this oft-cited "Windows-only" app situation; management has not announced that henceforth all the Linux machine must convert to Windows and the Mac users must turn in their Macbooks... Businesses don't need a "killer Linux app"; they need cost-effective solutions. Microsoft has lost its monopolistic grip on the market. (Seems to be accelerating of late, too.)

Gisabun
Gisabun

I don't think the switch over to linux is because of security. linux has its share of security problems as well but because Windows has about 50 times more users, it's more in the spotlight. Cost could be a factor but IT will probably spending [in some cases] extra time to have a decide and a Linux box play with eachother properly. There are few business applications that are in Linux but not elsewhere.

Gisabun
Gisabun

Switch to Adobe InDesign - except no Linux version.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

at least, those of us who aren't yet virtualized or converted to web apps. I suspect this is more than those who have, but I'm just going with a gut feeling.

Gisabun
Gisabun

No really major rush to Win 8 anyways. "Win 9" will be released [if on time] before Win 7 support dies. As for the lsack of a Start Menu, try either Start8 or Classic Shell.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

Because your same argument applies to Apple products: They don't run (insert your list of Windows-only software here), as proof. Hence there are no businesses that run on Linux and there are no businesses that run on Mac. And all of those who are supporting the 35,000+ apps that are available in Linux, along with those running Linux & Mac in the workplace are having a good laugh. It's the 21st Century...

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

Yes; I've done something like this frequently. With quite reasonable performance -- but it will require "modern" PC hardware and fast networking.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Did I miss the tipping point when iTunes became a business app?

Gisabun
Gisabun

We can really do without iTunes. right? :-)

Gisabun
Gisabun

Problem with Chrome is that is has way to many vulnerabilities [i.e. not as secure] as other browsers. I'd take secure over fast any day.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

Red Hat and their billion-dollar business will take issue with you about "central management". Printer driver problems in Linux is so 20th Century (hint: uses exactly the same CUPS print engine as Mac). Many major applications have Linux equivalents -- Jack's point in this post. If running Virtualbox is cheating, then you're accusing Mac users of "cheating" when they run Parallels. (Should I tell my co-workers using Macs that they must stop this shameful practice?) I'm running two OSes at the moment myself... (Neither of them is Mac, BTW.) Am *i* cheating? The base OS is Windows. *Now* am I cheating? Still against virtualization on the desktop? I run Windows apps in Linux using Crossover (Wine) -- no virtualization. Still "cheating"? What about if I run Google's search engine in Firefox... my goodness, that must be a violation of some sort of computer science code of etiquette. Whew? Piling on imagined attacks against a valid OS is rather tiresome, isn't it? I know it sure is to be READING it over and over again; it doesn't become true with repetition, either.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

That one did make me wonder why bother with the entire exercise, especially if you're running an existing shop. It might make sense if you're starting from scratch and will only purchase Windows license for those users with apps that don't have a Linux counterpart.

Gisabun
Gisabun

Wouldn't touch Chrome with a ten foot pole [unless I have to].

ccs9623
ccs9623

but in my world, most businesses are 100-200 users and the DO require apps written only for windows. There are far more custom written/modified Windows apps out there than there are off-the-shelf versions. In my world (with a 30+ year span) there have not been, and still fail to be, viable alternatives to most business related software. Office? Get real. At best you'll get a 75% compatibility. As soon as the CEO can't open/edit a critical excel spreadsheet sent to him by a potential customer, the cost-justification of the knock-off flies out the window. I will admit that the bulk of my experience is in 4-5 specific business segments so my views may not be accurate in other areas. That said, I don't think anyone can make the claim that "X" OS is the best for everyone. I have customer's who use nothing but MACs (thankfully I have MAC experts for them) but most of my clientele wouldn't get a day's work done on a MAC. It is good to have choices though.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

Do they care, and therefore abandon their Mac machines because they don't want to start using Parallels or a web app? I suspect there are more who are using these technologies, just as Linux users can -- but I, too, am going with a gut feeling. (Okay, that and taking note of others in my very mixed work environment.)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

If someone claims to have abandoned Windows for Linux (or Mac) but is dependent on a virtualized Windows system to accomplish a necessary task, then he's is "cheating", or at least mistaken. He hasn't abandoned Windows, only subordinated it to a secondary role. There's nothing operationally wrong with such a set-up, but Windows is still there and the license must still be paid for. If everything else he's running are just the Linux equivalents of his previous Windows apps, what's the point?

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

I can speak for the Mac users in the two groups that I've been in over the last two years, since I have the most familiarity with their situations. They tend to either run Parallels or they have a second PC with Windows or Linux. The former is preferred in my current group; the latter in my former group (which was, interestingly, a military project that seemed to have all kinds of money to buy secondary PCs for those who wanted them). Those using Parallels seem to be happy with it. Interesting break in symmetry: They can run Windows 7 on their Macbooks, but they don't have the option of getting a WinTel box and virtualizing Mac on it...

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I can only address the industry slices I'm familiar with. You tell me; do Mac users care about the issues you raised?

jdubow
jdubow

@Brainstorms I agree with your brainstorm. I'm  transitioning from Windows, running MS Office in Crossover (I need an Office license but not a Windows license, a correction to what some writers said above).  I  also run a few Windows applications that I may need for work. Most professional applications are  Windows based, so I still have a Windows box, but I'm also slowly moving to Linux alternatives which are capable of doing what I need or, in tandem with a couple of Linux applications, better than the  Windows alternative. There is a bit of a learning curve on some, but less now then there used to be. 

Also,  many applications are moving to the cloud, such as the Adobe suite, so I won't need Windows to run them and, after a couple or years you won't be able to get host based versions. 

I'm also finding that alternatives like LibreOffice can do things that MS Office can't do because of addins and certain built in capabilities.  Another key advantage is the updates feature. One update for all my applications in Linux versus a host of separate updates for Window apps. Microsoft is always finding ways to mess with my head and is gradually losing mind share of users. 


So, between  Linux, CrossOver, and the Cloud the only  things holding me in Windows  are force of habit at home (to keep some Windows presence) and the need to work in a  SharePoint environment at work. 

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

I'm with you there -- if you're running Windows in a VM, you're running Windows. And you need a license (which almost 100% of store-bought machines come with). I read it differently. Here's what makes Windows in a VM different/useful: You can avoid *some* of the security concerns of running it natively, mainly by disabling the web browsers (for all but an Admin account) so that you surf the net only from the host (Mac or Linux). Better yet is if you can get your work done with all networking disabled (hard to do, and is not generalizable). Some situations will benefit from having the NAT firewall of virtualization added. This doesn't hobble Windows; with it in a VM I can still read/write USB drives, and I can read/write files in a folder of my host OS (or an entire account on the host, if more convenient) -- so I can still open/process/save documents easily. As for post-update reboots, that's still the case, too. But while my VM is rebooting, I can do work in the other OS. Even if both my host OS and my VM OS are Windows -- that's a valid combo (esp. for software testing). I don't use exotic apps in either Win or Linux myself, but I still have yet to find that I can fill either toolbox fully and dispense with the other. (At home I find I need Windows once in a blue moon; most of the Win apps I run sometimes do okay in Wine/Crossover.) It's good to have both at hand! I run Windows as host at work, with Linux in a VM; I do the opposite at home. My biggest problem is stability; my work Win7 host has an issue that causes the graphics driver to crash too often. Otherwise, things run seamlessly and easily and it's not an issue that I have two OSes or that one is virtualized, or which one it is that's virtual. How would I run the business? Probably the way I'm doing it now. I did help one friend convert his small business from Windows to Linux; that was successful, he's happy, and now 4 of his 5 PCs run Linux (one a server) and one runs Windows 7. He runs MS Office on his Linux laptop using Crossover; the Win7 machine runs Photoshop and is blocked from Internet access (except for admin). This is workable for small businesses -- why shouldn't it be? He could keep up with Win7 updating, etc., but he chooses not to; Linux gets regular updates. All his business-type apps & activities are covered using a Linux host. I rarely get calls for help. My work environment really is very mixed (Linux, Windows, Mac), and there's a good deal of use of Parallels and VMware/Vbox. Not too many run Linux as host, but I'll be doing that when I get a new machine in a month. This mixed environment works for everyone, and that's the point. MS doesn't dominate any more. And we still use its products.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm not objecting to the configuration. I'm pointing out that those who are running Windows in a virtual machine are STILL running Windows, still subject to all its liabilities: the license fee, security concerns, post-update reboots, etc. They haven't been able to get rid of it, and they're 'cheating' if they SAY they have. Run as many operating systems as you want, but don't tell me you're not running one of them just because it's virtualized. Tell me it's there for compatibility test, for transition training, whatever; but don't tell me you've left Windows behind when you're still dragging it around with you.. I wouldn't have chosen the word 'cheating' myself. Gisabun introduced it, and I'm trying to put his use of it in context. The OS isn't the hammer, it's the tool box. Say I have a Linux toolbox with a second, completely separate Windows toolbox inside. I once had all my tools in the Windows box, but I moved them out to the Linux box. All that's left in the Windows toolbox is my hammer. Unfortunately, there isn't a Linux hammer available at any price so I'm stuck with the original tool box. If I used to have everything in one toolbox, and I can't get rid of it, why bother with the second one? It may make sense in selected applications, but would you want to run the whole business that way?

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

Why not? Should I keep only a hammer in my toolbox? What do I do with a wood screw, then? Pound it in like the nails? Might work, but might also cause collateral damage to be dealt with. Would this "you can't use two OSes at the same time" because it's 1) "cheating" (who? what?) or 2) "it's still using Windows so why bother" argument ALSO apply to using two different image editors on my Windows (only) system? Using two different databases at the same time? Can I not use 'git' and Subversion simultaneously as I develop code for different projects? How about mixing C code with Tcl code? Are those cases of cheating? Or should I be told, "Why bother with Tcl if you're using C; just code all of it in C"? It's a matter of using whichever OS is supporting whichever tools/apps you want/need to get your work done. After all, VirtualBox (to name an example) is itself an application, and (in a way) in turns a running Guest OS (Win or Linux) into another app... Operationally, fine. But I don't see the mistakes here, or the 'cheating' (assuming you're using a valid Windows Product Key for a virtualized Windows install). Here's another valid reason: Transitioning from one to the other. During the period of re-training & migration, it's very handy to run both simultaneously. But as many will point out, there will long be the need to occasionally run Windows-only apps. It cuts both ways: I still have to run Linux-only apps when I'm in Windows! I accomplish that by running Cygwin. Oh no, I'm cheating there, too, aren't I? ;^)