I know as much about Linux as Britney Spears knows about foreign affairs. Is it possible to run within WinXP or side by side with it?
The memory limit are mostly given by the limits of the hardware (32bits vs 64bits) and or operating system.
The advantages of Linux are that it squeezes out the last bit of resources from the hardware so kernel developers were able to allow for up to 3.5GBytes of RAM per application on regular 32bit x86 architectures (P4/Athlon).
64bit platforms (G5, Opteron, Athlon 64, newer P4/Xeons should lift those limits and allow to address many many of GBytes of RAM. But the problem is most mainstream operating systems/applications/drivers are not ready for the 64bits yet, because there's no big 64bit market yet.
If you want to use a sampler in 64bit mode you need a 64bit operating system, 64bit audio/midi drivers and 64bit aware audio apps. Eg if you use VST then you need a 64bit version of a sequencer (like Cubase) and a 64bit version of the sampler plugin.
I think this is not going to happen overnight on Windows and will IMHO take many many months to become a reality.
On OS X things are brighter since one company control both the hardware and the operating system.
But as you see from the messages on this forum it seems that's hard to get over the 2.7GB limit. (which I find quite disappointing, OS X look sometimes like a work in progress ... )
The advantage of Linux on 64bit platforms is that as stated previously here, it runs on dozen of CPUs and some of them were 64bit since long ago (Digital Alpha, SGI MIPS, Sun SPARC etc). So porting Linux to Athlon 64/ G5 was not a big problem.
Since all audio/midi drivers come in source form they can be recompiled on any target CPU architecture that's available at the moment and they are all 64bit clean.
And if you take LinuxSampler, since it's too an open source application it can be compiled on 64bit platforms without problem. The current code base still has a 4GB memory limit since some offset/pointers use 32bit values but you can always run multiple instances of it and use up all the memory you want. But we will lift that internal 4GB limit soon so you can eg use a simple LinuxSampler instance and preload 16GB or samples.
Coming back to your question if LinuxSampler can be run on Windows XP: the answer is not yet.
The porting to multiple operating systems is in progress and we have an alpha version that runs on OS X (which is not speed optimized yet).
But keep in mind that LinuxSampler running on Windows XP could cannot achieve miracles in terms of maximum RAM usage since it's limited by the operating system. In that sense it would perform like any other VST sampler.
But before making a native Windows port of LinuxSampler we will probably focus energies to implement the audio/midi over ethernet streaming module (eg similar to FX Teleport) which allows to control a cluster of dedicated LinuxSampler machines by a standard DAW (eg Windows/Mac) via VST/AU.
As we know hardware is pretty cheap and being able to control the sampler cluster from your familiar windows/mac enviromen will be of real help since it avoids you to mess around with Linux apps ... the LS boxes will just be slaves of your DAW.
Combine that with an automatic install CD that installs Linux, LinuxSampler and sets up networking and the fun will be assured.
As said it's hard to give time estimates but I'm pretty sure it will be reality this year.
Think also, Linux is customizable, has had a longer lifecycle of development, is robust and well tuned, is used very heavily in server services in industry(which really isn't that what a sampler is?), has a huge community, and...not only that, has a TON of OpenSource projects. Think also, if you are into getting very cool software developed from the academic world, most likely its LINUX based.
Adding in the network AUDIO and MIDI ability PLUS the ability to cluster multiple machines into one monolithic mainframe of superpower, will make Linuxsampler the leader of the world. Benno, it should be noted, is also a developer GOD to do it. If he can pull it off, there is nothing in the commercial world that could have it beat in performance...
Of course, the latest this or that may come out from the commercial world to try and bait customers into a new proprietary format, but for a server based streaming sampler, my bets are on LinuxSampler.
sbenno will answer best, but you could possibly setup another boot partition on your slave and reboot under LINUX. another option is to get another PC + Soundcard...not sure if dual processors are supported, but master sbenno will reveal all
One thing that always confuses me about RAM...speaking as a Logic user on a G5...is how the RAM gets allocated. In otherwords, if Logic can only use 4 gig of RAM, which I believe is currently the limitation...do all EXS instances, as well as other 3rd party software plugs, have to squeeze into that too?
Or do sounds get loaded into RAM independently of Logic? Am I making sense?
(Sorry to distract from the interesting Linux conversation!)