You need to check out Oracle VM VirtualBox

It used to be Sun VirtualBox, but Oracle bought Sun. This is free software that you can download here. You can run this software on Mac or PC or Linux. After you install VirtualBox, you install whatever Virtual operating system you want on your host machine. So you can run Mac on a Windows Machine, a Mac on a Linux Machine, a Linux machine on PC or Mac. Performance is not bad either. I expected much worse even on a 2.4 Ghz Intel dual processor with 3 gig of RAM. I uploaded the latest release of Ubuntu which is awesomely easy to install and use.

Ubuntu on Oracle VM Screenshot

So you can take Ubuntu for a serious test drive to see if you want to do a hard install on a hard drive. Discover all of the neat free and useful software that runs on Ubuntu. I installed the PiTiVi video editor which is very nice. I used it to splice together a couple of videos from a digital camera. Very nice.
OpenOffice comes with the Operating system by default. So you can print labels or whatever right after the install.

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