Options for using Unity on Linux host

When using a Linux desktop, I often run into situations where I need Windows Office applications. While I am a fan of the Wine project, it does not support all the features that I need (for example: OneNote syncing with SharePoint/OneDrive).

As a result, using a Windows Virtual Machine is often unavoidable. The ideal situation is, however, that the virtualized Windows applications are integrated as much as possible within the Linux desktop environment. Recently I have been experimenting with the available options in this area.

Vmware Workstation 11 Unity (1) VirtualBox Seamless Virtual Machine + RDP (2) Wine (3)
HTML (formatted text) copy/paste No No Yes Yes
Image copy/paste Yes No Yes Yes
Guest windows in host taskbar Yes No Yes Yes
Stability Low (with Office 2016 a lot of glitches; unusable) High Low
(A lot of glitches. Also increased CPU load and lag)
Low
(Glitches / crashes are common)

(1) I am listing explicitly Workstation 11 here. The unity feature was removed from VMWare Workstation for Linux per version 12.
(2) For the Virtual Machine + RDP solution I ran a Windows Server 2016 VM and used xfreerdp in my Linux host. The amount of glitches was quite high and every time your suspend/unsuspend your host system the xfreerdp needs to reconnect to your VM.
(3) Office in wine is not feature complete; for example OneNote does not have SharePoint/OneDrive sync.

With regards to performance:
Initially I thought that the VirtualBox approach would be faster than the VM+RDP due to the networking overhead. In reality, the responsiveness on a large screen (UHD resolution) was better with the VM+RDP than the native VirtualBox display. I haven’t compared the CPU loads, but I did get the impression that the VM+RDP is more expensive in CPU load.

Of all the options, the VM+RDP comes the closest to Linux integrated with a Windows desktop, if you can handle the glitches and increased CPU load. There currently is no perfect solution.

P.S.: this post does not cover the other way around: Windows 10 + WSL + X-server.

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