I’m an avid user of virtual machines, primarily for development work on the desktop, but also in the Enterprise. For desktop virtualisation I’ve tried them all – Microsoft’s Virtual PC, VMWare Server and I’m now hooked on VirtualBox, Sun’s open-source offering to the gods of virtualisation. The performance is excellent, it ‘feels’ like a stable product and is actively maintained with regular releases.
For me, Virtual PC never felt stable enough and when running several VM’s at once to test clustered BizTalk installations – I could never get the desired performance. I moved to VMWare’s free VMWare Server which felt a lot more stable and ran quickly, but thrashed I/O. After reading Tim Anderson’s glowing blog post on VirtualBox a good few months ago, I decided to take the plunge and have never looked back.
Restoring a VM from a saved state and saving itself is blisteringly quick – much quicker than either VMWare or Virtual PC; the VM’s themselves are rock solid, even after being started and stopped several times during a working week and don’t cause the same I/O problems previously experienced. The admin ‘console’ is based on the Trolltech Qt tool set and although slightly different to VirtualPC and VMWare products it is intuitive annd easy to use. More importantly, VirtualBox can read VMWare disk images (and with some work, VirtualPC images), so no need to re-create all of those environments!
VirtualBox was originally developed by Innotek GmbH, but was acquired by Sun earlier in the year to form the desktop element of the company’s xVM virtualisation strategy. There doesn’t appear to be a development roadmap available on the website, but they have an excellent release cycle with regular bug and stability fixes. All in all, an excellent product that gets the seal of approval from this blogger.
If you’re interested in trying out VirtualBox, head on over to the downloads page and grab a copy of their latest release. Let me know how you get on!
Additional VirtualBox Reading on this Blog
You may be interested in reading some of my other VirtualBox related posts:
- How-To: Re-size a VirtualBox Virtual Disk Image File
- How-To: Clone or Copy a VirtualBox Virtual Disk
- VirtualBox 3.0: New Full-Screen Toolbar