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I'd like to develop some node.js on my windows machine by using a virtual linux server that runs as a program and that I would access through ssh.

I'd like this virtual linux instance to access the network as well.

Is there any solution available? Preferably free ones.

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closed as off topic by Karl Bielefeldt, gnat, ChrisF Feb 29 '12 at 17:28

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Just a note: As you'll be developing on windows you will access the code in the virtual machine using "shared folders" which simply is mounted drive via a network protocol. I haven't found solution with network drives to support symlinks. Some node packages try to create symlinks while being installed (if not all packages) so the setup is either impossible or a real pain. – antitoxic Sep 30 '12 at 11:26
up vote 10 down vote accepted

You are looking for a free virtualisation solution, like VMware Player, Virtual Box and many others with a Linux virtual appliance like a Turnkey Linux.

The basic TurnKey Core Appliance is a pretty good starting point:

The common base system on top of which all TurnKey Linux appliances are built. It includes custom automated backup and migration software, a web management interface, automatic daily security updates, live installer, configuration console, and all other common features. Take a look at some screenshots.

Someone at LazyCoder has already written up a step by step guide for Getting started with node.js on Windows using VirtualBox and Turnkey Linux Core.

Personally, I would use VMWare Player, as in my experience, performance is significantly higher than the other options I mention. Now I know about it though, I might also look at using coLinux/andLinux after Jan Hudec's suggestion.

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Definitely agree with VMWare Player, much better in my experience than Virtual Box (Which caused my PC to BSOD when trying to bridge network connections!) – Richard Dalton Feb 29 '12 at 16:11
I've been an ardent user of Virtual Box, perhaps its time to make the switch. I guess I can't load VB images in VMP?? – Darknight Feb 29 '12 at 16:30

I use Virtual Box for this. It's free and pretty easy to use. *

It is a little bit of hassle if you want to give your VM access to USB (which requires an extenson) or if you want to spread it across multiple cores (which often requires a BIOS change). But there is good support out there, both from Oracle and the community.

*When I say it was easy to use, I had used the pricey version of VMware in the past, so I knew most of the concepts.

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I would prefer coLinux, because that kernel is compiled as native Win32 process and therefore avoid some of the performance penalty of full virtualization. andLinux provides full easy to install Ubuntu image based on coLinux kernel.

Note, that you won't be limited to ssh into the linux box; Linux applications can display directly to the windows host through the Xming implementation of X server for windows. But you can do that with full virtualization too.

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From my personal experience, the performance between VMWare Player and VirtualBox is negligible. What I'd like to add, however, is that I've noticed Fedora doesn't run as smooth as Ubuntu (under VirtualBox, anyway) with 4GB allocated to the VM... I'd stick with VirtualBox because it's free.

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To my mind the best way is using Virtual box + Drupal Quickstart: Pre-made Development Environment.
Quickstart is an export of VB Ubntu virtual machine which has been balance for developing with Drupal. It has devloping tools like NetBeans and Eclipse already installed there is also a preconfigured LAMP server included and even Firefox plug-ins for developers are installed.

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Here is a video overview of Quickstart - Here is an Installation video of Quickstart – Povylas Feb 29 '12 at 17:10

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