Linux Emulators

Linux emulators have made the life of developers easier by eliminating the need to have different machines with different OS. In this article, we will go through the top seven Linux emulators available in the market today.

Updated: 01 Jun, 23 by Susith Nonis 9 Min

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Despite the stability and reliability of Linux systems, Windows systems are preferred thus making it difficult for the Linux system to take over the market. Windows comes with a bigger platform as it offers various options that make the life of the users easier and effortless. Not only this, Windows system provides advanced graphics that are more suitable for gamers. Also, the office suite software package makes it more preferred over other OS. 

But, having such differences between the Windows and Linux systems does not mean that both of the OS cannot co-exist peacefully on a single system. All credits go to the Linux emulators that can be run on Windows environments. It makes it possible to use both the OS on a single machine.

In this article, we will be focusing on what Linux emulators are, their importance, and various Linux emulators that are available in the market.

The exact definition of emulation is to simply project something on top of another thing. Thus, a Linux emulator allows you to seamlessly launch the Linux OS on top of the Windows environment. It works exactly the same as running a Linux OS as a feature within the Windows OS. emulator makes it possible to run system-specific programs on another programming platform. 

Both Linux and Windows have different designs and implementations. But with the help of a Linux emulator, you can simply run both the OS simultaneously without being collided while running their system-specific programs. 

With the help of the emulator, you can efficiently transition from one OS to another or try to enhance your skills in another OS. Running the Linux OS on top of the Windows OS allow you to run Linux specific applications that cannot be easily run on Windows, thus eliminating the need to have a different OS installed on your system. With an emulator, you can easily leverage the features of both operating systems.

You can find various Linux emulators in the market that will offer different features and you can opt for the one that will suit your business requirements. Make sure that before you start configuring an emulator on Windows, you should have the minimum pre-requisites for configuring and running the Linux emulators without impacting the function of the underlying Windows OS. 

Make sure to check the basic requirements such as the machine’s main memory (RAM), processor, and suitable physical memory. The minimum requirement is 4GB RAM, 250GB Hard Disk space, and a dual-core processor. Once you maintain the minimum requirement, you are ready to configure the Linux emulator efficiently.

Below we have summed up some of the Linux emulators that is suitable to be configured on Windows 10, 8.1, and 8.

1. Virtual Box

Oracle hosted this free hypervisor that is most commonly used within the Linux community. If you are using the VirtualBox then it will allow the users to create multiple virtual machines. These virtual machines are capable of holding different operating systems. With the help of this Linux emulator, you can run more than one Linux distro on the Windows OS.

If you want to configure VirtualBox on Windows: no prior technical skills are needed. This Linux emulator has a simple interface that you can get along very seamlessly. Within a few minutes, you can have a fully functional Linux operating system running on top of Windows.

C and C++ languages have been used for optimizing this emulator to provide immense performance. Another factor is that it uses the X86 assembly code. As Oracle hosts this emulator, you will get to leverage various features with fewer bugs. It not only caters to the light Linux distros but also supports the resource-concentrated Linux distros. You can use this emulator with third-party applications.

2. VMware Workstation

This is somehow similar to the VirtualBox but for this emulator, your Windows system needs to be 64-bit. If you manage to have the minimum system requirements, then the hypervisor will allow you to run various distributions of Linux on your Windows system.

With the free version, you might not be able to use the features that are available for its professional version. For basic features, you can simply opt for VMware’s workstation for free. It comes with a simple and clean interface allowing you to get along easily with various functions.

The package of VMware is already configured with the VMs ready for the Linux distributions. With the free version, you can easily accommodate 3GB of data. Other important features that you can avail of are-

  • SSH
  • 4K resolution
  • Virtual networks and others.


Among other emulators, QEMU is one of the outstanding emulators as it offers high-end hardware support and emulates the architecture. Being powered by the C programming language, it comes with the support for GNU GPL. 

For enjoying a stable performance, you should have the minimum requirements on your Windows system. With the things in place, you will be able to leverage its native-level performance with constant updates making the application better.

With this emulator, you will be able to take a break from its processing and resume the process later by saving the state of the Linux system as a snapshot. So that the next time, you want to restart your emulator, you only have to re-launch that specific snapshot and then continue your work from that point onwards. Apart from this, you can use its supports for peripherals thus making it easier for making a connection using network data cards, USB devices, thumb drives, and audio drives. 

4. Hyper-V

Microsoft developed this application product which is also known as Windows Server Virtualization. It is a robust application that can be easily emulated with any operating system available. This makes it possible to run any Linux distro along with POSIX and BSD. But the limitation lies within its excessive resources and main memory usage.

It comes with a unique functional feature that makes this emulator to be operated through an isolated virtual partition where the actual distribution of Linux will reside. This makes it possible for both systems to function simultaneously without any interferences.

It will save your system from the malware along with other features such as cloud backup, encryption, network virtualization, etc.

5. AndLinux

Using this emulator, you will be able to run any Linux distribution on the Windows system. It comes with a pre-installed Ubuntu distro. It is one of the robust emulators that work perfectly without implementing a virtual machine. AndLinux helps in emulating the Linux OS-level virtualization that will maintain a smooth user experience. It uses two Linux desktop environments such as KDE and XFCE. You can use both environments for executing Linux scripts that are hosted on the Windows system via command prompt. 

You can also use the Nautilus file manager and Synaptic package manager. It is an open-source emulator that is available under GNU GPL.

6. MESS (Multi Emulator Super System)

This emulator gained popularity for the gaming experience. It is one of the oldest and versatile emulators that helps in accommodating hundreds of guest systems like game consoles. This emulator has been maintained by the MAME developers. It ensures accurate operations thus making it an outstanding emulator as compared to other alternatives.

It is available as an open-source application making it available for making custom changes as per the preferences of the applications. It also provides great portability and is a simple emulator ensuring easy configuration on multiple machines. 

7. Wubi

You can leverage the partition-free feature of this emulator that will allow you to configure the Linux distro on your underlying Windows OS. For running this emulator, you have to install it as a general program on your Windows system and then launch it to create an installation environment for your specific Linux distribution.

After launching, you can restart your machine that will provide you with an option to choose the OS that you want to launch. Currently, this emulator is no longer under development but it is a preferred emulate amongst developers for its simplicity.

This emulator is lightweight as it is only 2.4MB in size. As this emulator comes under the GNU GPL, it is available for modifications.  

Linux emulators have made the life of developers easier by eliminating the need to have different machines with different OS. With the help of Linux emulators, you do not have to move your OS-specific application from one system to another and can run them simultaneously on a single machine. 

We have mentioned some of the Linux emulators that are widely used by developers due to their simplicity and robustness. You can choose any of the emulators that will fit better as per your system’s minimum requirement. 

Susith Nonis

Susith Nonis

I'm fascinated by the IT world and how the 1's and 0's work. While I venture into the world of Technology, I try to share what I know in the simplest way with you. Not a fan of coffee, a travel addict, and a self-accredited 'master chef'.