Virtually Distro Hop Using a Browser With Instant Workstation

Introduction

Whether you are a Linux newbie or an experienced user, distro hopping can be both fun and informative. It lets you get familiar with various Linux distributions out there and increase your familiarity with using Linux.

A common way to do this is to use a virtualization app like VirtualBox or VMWare. If you don’t want to install it locally, then there are online services that let you test-drive different Linux distros.

Instant Workstation is one such virtual machine on-demand service.

Instant Workstation homepage

You select which Linux distro you want and which version and after a 20-second delay you can use the virtual machine in your web browser.

How to use

Go to instantworkstation.com in your web browser.

Choose from the listed Linux distros

On the main page select from the listed distro (e.g. Ubuntu). Now select the version you would like (e.g. Ubuntu 23.10 Mantic Minotaur).

Select the version number of the Linux distro that you want to use in Instant Workstation

Your virtual machine will now be prepared and you need to wait 20 seconds.

Virtual machine will be deployed in 20 seconds

After 20 seconds your machine is ready to use.

By default, you are presented with the VNC (GUI) view.

Using the sidebar on the right side of the screen you can:
◦ change to GUI view
◦ change to terminal view
◦ upload/download files/folders to/from the virtual machine
◦ shutdown the virtual machine
◦ delete the virtual machine

Virtual machine screen of Linux distro in Instant Workstation

In the sidebar on the left-hand side of the screen your virtual machines are listed.

Registration/Login

The website can be used without registration/login. However, any machine created without being
logged in will be permanently deleted on shutdown. To permanently store your machine you need to start it when logged in.

Then when you start the machine some time in the future, you will get the same machine back, i.e. any software you installed will still be there.

Linux distros currently available

  • Arch Linux
  • Debian
  • Fedora
  • FreeBSD
  • Haiku
  • TempleOS
  • Ubuntu

Planned features

  • Internet connectivity
  • ARM virtual machines
  • RISC-V virtual machines
  • More distros and more versions
  • Better support for mobile devices

Internet connectivity is currently restricted until better protection against abuse is in place. In the future, these machines should have internet connectivity at least to registered users.

Potential use cases

  • QA/Testers wishing to test their software on various operating systems
  • Students wishing to learn and test out different operating systems
  • Tinkerers and technical enthusiasts

Technical details

Virtual machines are run with QEMU in KVM mode. Currently, only x86 machines are available. Planned future updates include offering ARM and RISC-V machines running with QEMU in KVM mode.
Each virtual machine has 4 virtual CPU cores, 16GB of RAM, and 64GB of disk space.

This on-demand browser-based virtual machine service is similar to Distrosea.

Do give it a try in your journey of Linux distro hopping.

Cheers.

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