objarni's picture

Ubuntu as a development environment?

Hi everybody.

I'm currently using WindowsXP and Visual Studio Express 2008 as a development environment.

While I am quite pleased with Visual Studio, I'm starting to grow tired of Windows (viruses+slowness+hassle+security).

So I'm thinking - could I go Ubuntu and still keep Visual Studio? Eg. via a VirtualBox+minimal Windows XP (only Studio! no network). Then I could develop using Studio and have a Shared Folder from which I run the result, hardware accelerated (NVidia graphics cards work fine in linux world..).

The alternative is MonoDevelop, which I tried a year ago or so and it was not up to par with Visual Studio yet (mostly because of IntelliSense being a lot less attractive). Maybe it is a lot better nowadays? For example I sure would appreciate better scripting possibilities than Visual Studio Express.

Does anybody have experiences to share?

Really off topic: The other thing I would miss from my windows environment is HalfLife2 :) Does anybody have any experience getting H/W acceleration under Virtual Box? That's the only way I can thing of to make it work under Ubuntu (don't tell me to use Wine -- I've had bad experiences regarding that software).


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Entropy's picture

Actually, after playing around with the settings a little to get this working, something odd has happened - I'm getting some serious graphical glitching, and the system seems to hang. I can only access firefox through a failsafe terminal session (failsafe GNOME isn't working). Reloading the backed-up xorg.conf file doesn't make a difference.

I'm going to attempt reinstalling the graphics driver from the terminal, and if that doesn't work, it looks like I'm going to have to reinstall (which, at least, is much less painful with Ubuntu than it is with Windows XP). It's possible that in my total ignorance of all things Linux, I just messed up the installation to start with.

Thanks for your advice, by the way.

Edit: I'm pretty sure I've learnt enough from the first few days of floundering to ensure I'd do it right next time...

Kamujin's picture

I was running Ubuntu for most of the last year. I am running Vista x64 right now.

I just needed a break from working around bugs all the time. Its cool to tinker, but it's also a productivity black-hole.

The broken PPTP support in Ibex coupled with occasional lock-ups in Hardy were just frustrating. Not to mention compiz glitchyness.

I'll be back as I am a huge Ubuntu fan, but I just need a break.

I've always liked Vista and I use Visual Studio for my professional work anyhow, so it's not like I am suffering with my current setup.

objarni's picture


How much config-file-fiddling did you have to do? Was it because you wanting "special features" / "latest drivers" or was it common features too (normal web browsing, installing plugins for web browser, updating software ..)?

the Fiddler's picture

Ubuntu tends to work well for common tasks, but does require tinkering for more advanced ones (unusual network configuration, custom resolutions, audio/midi recording). The good thing is that each version becomes a little better out of the box (e.g. new network manager in Intrepid, better flash, audio, wifi etc). The bad thing is that you will need to sink some time getting used to it and getting things to work exactly as you like.

My parents now use Ubuntu exclusively (I installed it to get rid of a virus-infested windows installation) - their only problem is that there's no program to open encrypted AutoCAD files (solved through WINE, but solution still not perfect). I love the fact that my hardware is supported out of the box (network printer, midi keyboard, toy usb camera) - the last two are not even supported on Vista x64 and I have to go hunting for drivers for the first (which I no longer bother to do). I also love how easy it is to install - I've prepared a 2GB LiveUSB stick that can boot any computer and install Ubuntu in under 10' (either natively on disk, or through windows).

Objarni, if you are using windows and are not sure about switching, download Ubuntu and install it under windows. It's a fully featured installation that you can remove at any time through "Add/Remove Programs".

objarni's picture


I have tried Ubuntu from time to time - but it is Visual Studio + some games that keeps me back.

I haven't tried it long enough to find the need to fiddle in config files yet - that's the reason I asked Kamujin/you about this.

I upgraded my old dual-boot (XP/Ubuntu) computer from 8.04 to 8.10 last night, not much hassle, only had to reboot a couple times and set the screen resolution. Next step is installing Visual Studio / WINE for HalfLife 2.

Then I'm all set :)

I think it is Wubi-ubuntu you are talking about, the single-file install for windows (Ubuntu as a program in Windows), right? Haven't tried it but read about it.

Entropy's picture

Pfft, I'm getting pretty fed up with this. I've still got no sound or 3D support (actually, the login sound plays just fine, but once I'm logged in everything is silent - and it's not muted, and the the Ubunto HowTos haven't helped much).

I'm going to go with the full Ubuntu reinstall plan when I get in tonight, but I'm missing the ease of Windows (if you don't count the arduous installation/driver-hunting process to set it up). If I wasn't having so much hassle I'd easily stick with Ubuntu and use VM/WINE for VS2008/games, as it's obviously superior in so many ways, but if I can't get it fully working soon, I'm going to have to (regretfully) return to windows and just pine for those one-click installer software channels, smoothed fonts and free, well-supported software packages.

Kamujin's picture

I really don't want to bag on Ubuntu too much. I really do like it.

Let me simply say that the first 90% of what I wanted to do was extremely simple and worked well.

The last 10% gets progressively more difficult.

Note Visual Studio does not work in Wine. You can run it in a VM.

Please also feel free to discount my opinion by the fact that I roll my eyes whenever someone calls Vista slow, buggy, and or virus prone. None of those is even remotely true in my experience.

the Fiddler's picture

Please also feel free to discount my opinion by the fact that I roll my eyes whenever someone calls Vista slow, buggy, and or virus prone. None of those is even remotely true in my experience.

I used to agree, until I used it on a laptop with (the recommended) 1GB ram. Ouch.

Give it RAM and it works great, though. The above laptop is perfectly usable with 2GB. Vista is also pretty secure compared to XP (not even running a virus scanner anymore).

What you say about Ubuntu (and Linux in general) is true.

Inertia's picture

Please also feel free to discount my opinion by the fact that I roll my eyes whenever someone calls Vista slow, buggy, and or virus prone. None of those is even remotely true in my experience.

I can only second that, and I'm no M$ fanboy. Once you realize that x64 is just a marketing lie and install Vista x86, things are good. x64 might become interesting 2010, but if you have no more than 4GB RAM you don't really get anything out of it, besides compatibility problems.

objarni's picture

Question for the linux nerds in this community: is 700 mb OK for /home ?

I'm thinking something like this: if I limit space to 700 mb for the /home partition - it will be easy to backup to a single CD-ROM.

and 700 mb is quite a lot of space for projects. enough for me for a long time .. heck I remember when I a single 880 kb disc was infinite storage amount on the Amiga :)