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Virtualizing a Surface Pro 2
Tom Neilly

Two of the classes that I’m taking this semester are Systems Administration and an Elementary French course. In the first two weeks of Systems Administration we focused heavily on virtualization, Hyper-V in particular. And being completely new to French, I’m putting forth a lot of effort to try to learn what I can as fast as I can. So I decided that installing a French virtual machine on the Pro2 would be an excellent learning tool.

Included with Windows 8.1 is an operating system virtualization platform called Hyper-V. For those not familiar with virtualization, it’s a way to run multiple operating systems simultaneously on a single computer. The operating systems are completely unaware of each other as they share the same hardware. For my first virtual machine on the Pro2, I installed Ubuntu 14.04, a free version of Linux. While virtualization allows you to install almost any OS, you still need licenses to use any version of Windows, which is why I chose something free. Besides being free, Linux has lots of uses.

The first thing I did after updating Linux is install the French language pack and converted the whole OS to French. The French language pack applies to the whole system, which makes trying to use it very interesting for a beginner to French such as myself. I find this is a good way to try to further immerse myself into the French language. This is another testament to how powerful the Pro2 tablet really is. The ability to seamlessly run two operating systems on such a portable device is mind-blowing.

While the entire Operating System has been converted to French, this does not carry over to web pages since the web pages I use have been written in English. However, I have discovered another great tool to help work around this and to assist me in learning French. I use a free extension for Google Chrome called “TransOver 1.10”. When installed and enabled, TransOver gives the user the ability to simply hover over a word, or highlight and hover over multiple words, and it translates to the language of your choice. It is fast and the translations for single words are very accurate.

Besides trying to force myself into a situation where I have to learn French in order to use this Virtual Machine, installing Linux also gives me an entirely different platform to use. As I said before, Linux is an extremely useful environment. While my experience with Linux is limited, I enjoy using, learning, and exploring it. The ability to use the Pro2 for practice with Hyper-V is very convenient, especially because my home computer is not currently set up to support Hyper-V. I’m confident as the semester progresses that I will find that more and more uses for the mobile virtualization that the Pro2 is capable of.