06 January 2011

Oracle VirtualBox Virtualisation environment

Here is a bit of a revelation.  I never ever thought I would ever say that any Oracle software is cool.  But today is that day. Well not quite, you see VirtualBox was a Sun acquisition of a company called Innotec, and now it belongs to Oracle.  Thankfully Oracle has left it be be an Open Source project.

There are only three real player in the virtual environment game.  VMware and Microsoft with Hyper-V and Virtual PC and of course Citrix.  I work with VMware and respect it's enterprise feature set, if you want a desktop version there is even VMware player for free.  Similar story with Microsoft.

A while ago I saw an article on VirtualBox and thought that it is cool that there is another player especially one that runs on multiple host operating systems.  So when I saw another article about the latest version that has just been release (Version 4.0.0 on 22 December 2010) I though I would take a look, how bad could it be?

To my amazement it is a very nice and responsive feature rich virtualisation environment.  Not playing in the virtual servers environment but definitely a player in the desktop space.

The download and the install was very quick and easy.  My first virtual machine was up 5 minutes later.

VirtualBox even provides guest additions to provide seamless mouse support.

It also supports:

  • USB integration
  • Storage support for VMware and Hyper-V disk formats
  • CD/DVD integration and the ability to load up image files
  • Network virtualisation
  • Audio
  • 3D Video enhancements
  • Shared guest OS folders
  • And a few others
The other bit of good news is that the previously reserved for the full version features is now available for the opensource version by installing the extension pack.

The is the management console.

Here are two virtual machines running side by side, Windows and Ubuntu

In short, I was really surprised and I really enjoyed trying out VirtualBox and recommended that you check it out if you have some free time.  Warning, you might get some flack from your colleagues about actually liking an Oracle product...    

Check the site for more info and all the download you will need  http://www.virtualbox.org/


Anonymous said...

What specs (particularly RAM) would you recommend for running the side-by-side operating systems you have in your article?

Anonymous said...

Great stuff. I use it on Linux Mint to run Winblows from there.

Etienne Liebetrau said...

Running Virtual machines will impact the host machine. I therefor prefer to have a dedicated virtual machine host - if I can.

Otherwise - CPU that support VM extension. (VT-x or AMD-V

x86 OS 4GB RAM
x64 OS as much as you can find

Also virtual disk and physical disk layout can make a big impact.

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