If you want to test drive a Linux distro, what will you usually do? Download the ISO file, burn it into a CD/USB drive and boot it up in your PC. Alternatively, you can also run the ISO file in virtual machine such as Virtualbox or VMWare. What if you are not a geek and have no ideas how to carry out the above stuff? What if there is a 1-click solution that allows you to test drive a Linux distro without having to go through the above steps?
Test Drive is a package for Ubuntu that allows you to test drive the daily build of Ubuntu with little effort on the user side. With a single click (Well, to be exact, there are several clicks on the first run), you can get the application to download the ISO from the web and run it in your virtual machine. While it is meant for non-technical Ubuntu users to test and provide feedback on the current Ubuntu release under development, it can also be used for any Linux distro as long as you provide it with the ISO URL.
For Ubuntu Lucid users, you can easily install with the following command:
sudo apt-get install testdrive
or simply click the link here.
For users using older version of Ubuntu, open the sources.list file
gksu gedit /etc/apt/sources.list
and enter the following at the end of the file:
deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/testdrive/ppa/ubuntu YOUR_UBUNTU_VERSION_HERE main deb-src http://ppa.launchpad.net/testdrive/ppa/ubuntu YOUR_UBUNTU_VERSION_HERE main
Remember to change “YOUR_UBUNTU_VERSION_HERE” to the version that you are using.
Lastly, type the following to install:
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install testdrive
Once installed, you can find the entry at Applications -> System Tools -> Test Drive.
At first run, it will configure your system and check if you have Virtualbox installed. Next it will prompt you to download the Ubuntu version that you want to test. Currently there are Ubuntu 10.10 desktop, server, netbook edition etc.
if you intend to test other Linux distro, you have to enter “6” when prompted, and enter the URL of the distro’s ISO file.
When you have selected your ISO image, testdrive will download the image to your system. You will need to have at least 1GB of free disk space to contain the ISO image.
One good thing about TestDrive is that it uses rsync to download the file, so the next time you run this application, it will only download the part that have changed since last download.
When the download is completed, it will automatically launch Virtualbox and run the ISO. No configuration is required. One thing though, it only works with Virtualbox 3.0.x or 3.1.x. If you are using the version 3.2, you will have to downgrade your Virtualbox to the older version.
Once it is running in the Virtualbox, you can choose to install to a virtual disk or simply run it in LiveCD mode.
* In case you are wondering, the ISO image are stored in the /home/username/.cache/testdrive/iso/ directory. You can delete the ISO file after you have finished testing to free up some hard disk space.
Has this software been useful to you? Let us know in the comments.
Image credit: Toyota UK
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