I recently switched my Linux install from a dual-boot partition to a VirtualBox on my MacBook. So far I’m liking the change. I’m using VirtualBox on OS X with Spaces, so I can easily switch between my OS X and Ubuntu desktops with a hotkey, as shown above. As a result, I find I’m actually using Linux more now than I used to. Having both systems open at once means I can add Linux software into my still Mac-centric workflow, which in turn makes transitioning some tasks over to the Penguin that much easier.
Also, while Ubuntu and their Mactel team have done a noble job of supporting Apple hardware, there are still a lot of hardware processes on the Mac that OS X manages far more efficiently—as evidenced by the fact that my laptop would generally double as a space heater while running Ubuntu from a partition. While Ubuntu in VirtualBox is predictably a bit laggy with some tasks, I’m finding that there are lots of benefits to having OS X manage my computer’s physical hardware—so much so that it at times can more than make up for any drag virtualization puts on the system. For instance, the screen color is beautiful without my having to toy with it—the dual-boot display always looked washed out unless I manipulated the settings manually. The touchpad is more intuitive. And the processor seems to run much cooler. If my computer were older, the opposite would probably be true, but I’m finding that at least for now, there’s no reason not to run Linux from a VirtualBox rather than a partition. That may change, but for now life is good with the new setup.