Since I last wrote about CoLinux it has become a useful tool within our team. In addition to the advantages of having a concurrent virtualized Linux server running natively on a machine that would otherwise be limited to Windows, a key factor for me is that the Linuxfilesystem is a simple Windows file. After configuring an instance (say installing IDS, CSDK, gcc, g++, make, Apache, php, Informix_PDO, Zend etc...) the filesystem can be saved as a zip file and shared with others.
If I do something reckless (like overwrite an OS threading library with a bad version) and trash the system, as long as I saved the filesystem prior to the misdeed, recovery is as simple as copying a file and restarting coLinux.
Setting up X-Windows is straightforward, the easiest way seems to be to install and start the CygWin X-Server on Windows and use the xhost command to allow access to the desktop. Set the DISPLAY environment variable in Linux to point to the Windows IP address, and x applications (once they're installed) should then display on Windows.
Networking issues - Basic network setup is straightforward and covered in the Wiki. This ONLamp blog post also has some useful suggestions for unplugged machines. I have yet to find a good wireless network solution though.
Update: This Wiki entry suggests specifying the MAC address of your wireless card to get wireless working with WinPCAP.
Typical usage scenario
Problem: We have a conference demo which uses the LAIP stack (Linux, Apache, Informix, PHP) - and the conference organizers only provide a Windows PC and a demo setup window of a few hours.
Solution: Set up the demo in CoLinux and when it's ready zip the filesystem and take it along on a flash drive. Set-up time is as long as it takes to install CoLinux and WinPCap, unzip the filesystem and start CoLinux on the demo machine. Alternative options would be to convert the demo to Windows (WAIP) and install and configure all the software, or maybe create a customized Linux live cd, but the CoLinux solution seems the simplest, and the same zipped archive can be used by anyone wishing to give this demo in the future.
As with other virtualization solutions it is also possible to run multiple CoLinux instances on one machine capable of communicating with each other, which would make for a useful self-contained high availability (e.g. HDR or ER) test/demo between two virtual servers.
The developerWorks Connections platform will be sunset on December 31, 2019. On January 1, 2020, this blog will no longer be available. More details available on our FAQ.