I'd really rather run it on it's own hard drive since I can set things up where my computer will boot up normally (to my current OS) and I'd have to manually make it boot to the drive running Linux. This way, I can work with it hands on... and if it works out, I can eventually use that drive as my main OS and make my computer boot to that first.
If it didn't work out and I didn't want to continue, then that drive can easily be formatted and used as an external so it's no big deal as far as cost is concerned. I'll just have the government subisdize the experiment by writing the drive off my taxes since it is a business expense.
I would need to be able to do any and all things I can do with Windows as far as business apps are concerned. I'm just a general user of MS Office, and I know about Open Office which should run on Linux, and I do some graphics work, some audio work, some web design work.
Linux isn't going to be too different from Windows, is it? Is it faster than Win 7 64 bit? Not a deal braker, but quicker response times is always better, although eventually I'm going to get an SSD so that should speed up response times no matter which OS I'm using.
I figured I'd load it, and then start looking for programs to use to imitate all the progs I'm currently using on Win 7.
I use my ubuntu laptop for..... Cisco mapping (packet tracer), java programming, word processing, network monitoring, skype, internet, streaming, torrenting and of course my job(on the side of being a student) ... php and sql development