(it's geeky. i warned you. but you can make fun of me for regularly destroying operating systems. and there's windows involved, but it's free for now...)
ok, so a while back, i installed ubuntu and realized AFTER damaging the windows partition that i didn't have my vista cd anymore.
honestly, i mostly don't really miss it. i've adjusted to amarok instead of itunes, star office instead of microsoft office... there's a free replacement program for almost everything. the one thing i hadn't gotten working, though, was netflix instant play movies. i missed it. i didn't miss it enough to justify the trouble it took to get it, but, er, once i get an idea in my head i can be a little stubborn.
when lifehacker came out with instructions for getting a windows 7 beta key, i went ahead and downloaded a copy.
then i installed virtualbox on ubuntu. and screwed up bigtime -- it needs your user account added to the group "virtualboxusers". instead of sudoing up and editing the /etc/group file directly, i tried to use a graphic group control tool. not sure what went wrong, but it cleared the /etc/group file of everything but the new group... resulting in a daemonic mess where most of the computer services didn't have access to necessary files and i didn't have access to admin powers and... well, let's just say it wasn't working so well. after a while booted into single-user mode with help from a fresh install's /etc/root file sneakernetted over from jesse's computer, i got back a lot of the basics... but couldn't get the networking to work. since the internet is my main source for all aid, i eventually got frustrated, backed everything up, and reinstalled ubuntu. total geek-fu failure, lesson learned, don't mess with that file unless you know what you're doing. but i have a nice, clean install now.
and set up virtual box again. and installed windows 7 on it. and it worked!
except the networking didn't. various blogs eventually pointed me to the fact that the virtualbox i'd gotten by apt-get install was not, in fact, the latest version. go to the webpage. install version 2.1.0. give windows the new, improved virtual network connection. and voila!
and... trying to run a netflix instant play movie in the windows media-based internet explorer player bluescreens my box. which is much less annoying than a traditional bluescreen, i have to admit -- unlike with a real laptop crash, i can go play/research on the internet while i wait for things to get back to normal. after tinkering and giving windows more hard drive space and more memory, i decide that the player's probably just not compatible with the beta internet explorer yet.
so i install firefox. and then netflix's silverlight player. and EVERYTHING WORKS! well, kinda herky-jerkily. but ramping the virtual box's base memory up to 1200 MB (which is more than virtualbox thought was a good idea given my modest laptop, but oh well) mostly fixes that... the audio gets smoother after a little tinkering with settings. it's good enough that i watched the first half hour or so of persepolis despite it being well past my bedtime by the time i got things working last night.
so, happy camper. i'll be happier if/when netflix gets things worked out with the DRM folks to support instant play for linux, but for now i have a ridiculous setup that more or less does the trick.