posted on Feb, 12 2006 @ 12:43 PM
VMWare has been around since the late 90's. They make an excellent product:
Emulate an [entirely independent] computer system inside its own window. You can emulate disk drives, ram, network devices, various hardware
devices... all without directly impacting your real computer. You can run just about any x86 operating system (Windows, Linux, (F,O,N)Bsd, etc). You
can select how the system interacts with your host computer... whether or not it can see your disk drives, how it interacts with the network, and what
hardware it sees.
The impact on system performance is entirely dependent on available resources and how many of them you assign to your virtual machine. For example,
running a modest virtual Windows 98 machine with 128MB RAM allocated to it would not have a very noticable impact on a host machine with a 1+GHz proc.
and a gig of RAM.
Setting up a barebones system that basically just runs a broswer is not a bad idea at all, as long as it is fairly well isolated from the host
computer so nothing can jump across a virtual network connection or virtually shared drives. Setting up the system to have a virtual network device
with its own IP would usually be sufficient.
[edit on 12-2-2006 by apc]