Is there virtual machine software that plays nicely with dual monitors?
October 3, 2010 8:58 PM   Subscribe

Is there virtual machine software that plays nicely with dual monitors?

Linux (Ubuntu) guest. Windows 7 host. I'm using VirtualBox now, but I can only use one monitor. And I can't expand the size of the window to be larger than the size of one screen.

I tried VMware Player, but it was really slow. So I gave up. I'm not sure it would do what I want anyhow.

Has anyone had any success using dual monitors with a VM Linux guest?
posted by aloysius on the mixing boards to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've got some time and some different VM softwares. I'm running Windows 7 X64 as the host. What version of Ubuntu are you using as your geust?

Let me know the version of the distro and I will be happy to do some testing for you.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 10:06 PM on October 3, 2010

Windows 7 64-bit host. Ubuntu 10.04 guest. Thanks for your help.
posted by aloysius on the mixing boards at 10:56 PM on October 3, 2010

This any use?
posted by flabdablet at 11:37 PM on October 3, 2010

I saw that and tried the headless option. No luck. It was in some weird half-working state. There was a remote desktop window but it didn't display anything. There was the Ubuntu desktop, but it wasn't really in a window. I had to click in the blank remote desktop window to affect the Ubuntu desktop. Hard to describe. I'll try it again tonight.

I didn't mess with the xorg.conf. I'm actually not sure where xorg.conf should live in Ubuntu. I couldn't find it at /etc/X11/xorg.conf. I'll plop that sample one there and see what happens.

posted by aloysius on the mixing boards at 10:41 AM on October 4, 2010

xorg.conf does indeed go in /etc/X11, but current versions of Ubuntu don't ship with one; X works everything out with autodetection and defaults.

You can build an xorg.conf that specifies explicitly all the stuff that X does by default, and then use that as a base for further fiddling, using the command

sudo X -configure :1

posted by flabdablet at 4:16 PM on October 4, 2010

Well, I was able to make my resolution span both screens and connect to it remotely through Remote Desktop Connect, though it's not ideal. Maximizing stuff, of course, spans both monitors. Plus, it's a bit slow.

(The problem I described earlier was due to having 3D acceleration turned on. I turned it off and it worked.)

As an alternative, I've considered connecting to the virtual machine via ssh and forwarding X. However, every X server for Windows I've tried looks terrible. The fonts aren't anti-aliased, and it just plain doesn't feel right.

(Ultimately, I'm trying to get a development environment set up that I'm comfortable with. I prefer developing on Linux, but I want to stay in Windows hence the virtual machine. I tried dual booting but didn't like it because all my stuff is on the Windows partition.)
posted by aloysius on the mixing boards at 6:48 PM on October 4, 2010

Why not dual boot, set up /etc/fstab to automount the Windows partition as /home/windows, and create symlinks inside /home/aloysius that point to useful subfolders of /home/windows? That way you get the nice dev environment plus easy access to all your stuff. You could even do a little Windows install in VirtualBox on Linux for running the occasional Windows app from inside your dev environment.

I don't recommend trying to use the same Windows installation both natively and virtually, though there are people who have apparently done this by fooling about with hardware profiles. But there's no reason you couldn't set up a Windows VM that also has access to the files in your native Windows partition via a Linux mount and a VirtualBox shared folder.

VirtualBox now supports DirectX 8 and 9 for Windows guests, and it mostly works. Sound driver issues still mess up a lot of games, though.
posted by flabdablet at 9:01 PM on October 4, 2010

VMWare workstation supports multiple monitors for guest OSes - but don't forget to install the vmware tools in the guest! It's not free, but there is a 30 day trial.

Alternatively, if you want to try the remote X solution, no machine nx is a good solution that works for me accessing my centos box remotely on my windows desktop. NX machine offer a free single-user version; or there's the freenx gpl implementation of the same server without the limit, and you can still use the nx machine windows binary.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:55 AM on October 5, 2010

I tried dual booting in the past, but didn't like it. I didn't like shutting down and rebooting all the time to switch between the two.

As for running a Windows guest, I play games and would prefer to have Windows as the host.

In any case, I gave VMware another shot. First, I tried Workstation and it worked okay. Then, I went back and tried Player again with 64-bit Ubuntu. Previously, I had been using 32-bit. For the most part it seems to be working fine. It's not as sluggish as it was before, but I'm not sure why.

Thanks for everyone's help.
posted by aloysius on the mixing boards at 7:57 PM on October 5, 2010

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