If you've ever wanted to try Linux, then you might have considered downloading a LiveCD, a bootable CD or DVD image that lets you sample the operating system without touching your current hard drive. That's a good idea in itself, but MobaLiveCD takes convenience to a whole new level by letting you run the ISO image in a window on your desktop.

The secret? MobaLiveCD uses the QEMU emulator to create a virtual environment where the image can boot. Your LiveCD thinks it's booting on a regular CD, but in fact it's just another application window. You'll be able to explore your Linux distribution of choice, try out programs, see how everything works, but still switch back to your Windows apps whenever you like.

Things don't always work out quite this well, unfortunately, because there is a catch here: running a LiveCD through QEMU means it'll be much, much slower than normal. If you're running something complex, like the latest Ubuntu LiveCD, on an underpowered PC then it'll be so sluggish as to be unusable. Vista and Windows 7 users will probably need to run MobaLiveCD as an administrator, too.

Still, if you've a leading-edge PC then this can be an easy and convenient way to check out a bootable ISO file. It's also free, a tiny download, and doesn't even require any installation, so if you're at all interested in the idea then we'd recommend you give MobaLiveCD a try.

Verdict

There's no easier way to test a bootable disc image. Pity about the performance, though