The Host OS
Choosing the right host OS depends highly on personal preference and the type of development you plan of doing. The bulk of my work is on the web, so the host OS is is nothing more than a launchpad for my virtual machines. That being the case, I want the host OS to use the least resources possible to allow for more power and space to be dedicated to VMs. This lead me to Linux, but your needs may vary. Here are a few considerations for each.
There are a few benefits to Windows as a host OS. As the most used OS in the world, there’s a wide array of hardware available that’s supported natively that hasn’t made its way to Linux or Mac. If your work relies heavily on interaction with devices that don’t have Linux support, Windows is your best bet. The two biggest negatives for Windows are cost and bulk. Windows requires a license for each running instance and has minimum requirements that are 4-8 times that of a comparable Linux distro.
The hardware support continues to grow, but is still far behind windows. This means some additional configuration and setup may be necessary to access all devices. If the guest OS is kept simple, it’s actually pretty straight forward to get a version of Ubuntu or Mint running on a modern desktop or laptop. The upshot is that most distros take up a fraction on the resources used by Windows. This allows you to run more
Laptop battery life is remarkably better with Windows, lasting 2-3 times as long as Linux Mint or Ubuntu base install. My laptop doesn’t leave the dock often, so this isn’t an issue in my case, but it’s worth noting.
On my laptop, I’m running Linux Mint with Oracle VirtualBox. My home server has Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V (headless).