[Teaching] Fw: [wg-windows] Minimal virtual machine for OCaml

Mr. Herr misterherr at freenet.de
Tue Sep 1 14:27:28 BST 2015

On 01.09.2015 13:40, Daniel Bünzli wrote:
> Forwarding this to the teaching mailing list. They may be more people in the position of responding to these questions.
> Le mardi, 1 septembre 2015 à 12:20, Thranur Andul a écrit :
>> While OPAM for Windows is not ready, I'm considering some teaching experiments using Linux virtual machines running inside Windows.
>> I suppose it has already been tried by some people here, so maybe someone could share their experiences with that approach.
>> In particular, one of my main issues is disk space: how much space would be necessary for a minimal Linux install with a graphical interface (XFCE, LXDE or even lighter) and the dependencies needed to install OCaml and the most common OPAM packages (e.g. Core,
>> js_of_ocaml, Coq, etc.)? Is there already a Linux distribution made for that?
>> Also, related details about virtual machine experiences (issues, limitations, recommendations, etc.) are welcome.
Caveat: this is a general answer, my point of view, and not done with OCaml

It certainly is technically feasible, depending on your desktop hardware even easy to do.

You need a VM software. I had good experiences with Virtualbox. With MS solutions you 
must find the right product for your Win version
(Virtual PC or Hyperv ) - I don't think it will beat Virtualbox in your scenario.

Disk space: starting from 3G for the OS and ~4G for the opam directory, this all 
depends directly on what you install.
You need quite some compilers, make and tools, and devel packages. Do a pilot 
install, of course.

Linux distro: any current distribution will do. Performance will not be much of an 
issue unless you have very weak desktops. I am using virtualbox on my old notebook. 
But some ocaml package compile times are quite long even on beefy machines (coq comes 
to mind).

As for the desktop environment: lighter is better, but not an issue either, even on 
KDE you can turn off effects and background tasks to speed it up.
Take what you and your students know.

skipping "... usual software ... coq ..." - is it an ocaml introduction ? :-)


There is a big risk of wasting time with subjects not in the centre of your course, 
especially Linux setup and use.

This depends directly on the "unix/linux literacy" of your students.


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