Unetbootin frugal installs are fine and they definitely work, but surely there can be no easier way to run an iso than this?
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kvm -m 800 -cdrom /home/mint/archbang-2012.04.30-i686.iso
That is the command I used for the last iso I booted.
Of course you have to install qemu-kvm first, but as that is in the package manager it is not a hard job (neither is it a 'heavy' package even including dependencies) and the other thing you have to know is where you have saved the iso file, but if you don't know that then one wonders why you are bothering with this
The '-m 800' part is the amount of memory in megabytes that you want to allocate to the virtual machine. Slightly less than half the installed memory is what I use as a rule of thumb (because you have to run the host at the same time).
I don't think there is anything easier for a quick look at a distro, it will give you enough of a feel for it to understand if you like it or not, but it won't tell you how well it will run after install, no virtualisation does that, and probably never will.
Fujitsu Lifebook AH532. Intel i5 processor, 6Gb ram, Intel HD3000 graphics, Intel Audio/wifi. Realtek RTL8111/8168B Ethernet.Lubuntu 13.10,Ubuntu12.10 (Unity), Mint16 (Cinnamon), Manjaro (Xfce).