Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Review: Sun VirtualBox

Recently I've had to find a virtual machine emulator. Given my limited budget (read: zero) I was hunting around for various different pieces of software. Microsoft have their virtual machine software: Virtual PC which is a polished bit of software. It is, however, not up to par with what I want to do. Because I run a host Windows machine and want to use Linux as a guest operating system, VirtualPC has all sorts of issues with it. I tried it and didn't like it. I stumbled upon VirtualBox (www.virtualbox.org) which appears to be sponsored by Sun. Given Sun's previous support of Open Source, I decided to try it.

The installation is very simple and straightforward - it installs extra network adapters, DHCP servers for the internal NAT'd network and a few other bits and pieces. The guest OS support it offers is excellent. In a *very* short amount of time I had a copy of Debian running from the netboot cd, installed and configured an FTP server and I was very happy. My host operating system was Windows Server 2008, which isn't 100% supported but does the job very nicely anyway. I've run it under Windows XP too and it works very well (especially on my Dell D610 Latitude with a 1.6GHz Centrino processor and 2GB of RAM). I'm going to test OpenSolaris on it and see how it goes under the installation.

Some years ago I ran VMWare Desktop to have many virtual machines for testing and other purposes and I found it to be rock solid. The VMWare gear is very good. I have found, to my considerable pleasure, that VirtualBox is as solid and feature filled as VMWare was. It's free status is even better and I love the fact that it supports Linux so beautifully. I'll be experimenting with various other guest OSs in the next few days and I'll let you know my progress as I play with it.

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