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Review of Sun's Free Open Source Virtual Machine

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the expanding-options dept.

Operating Systems 354

goombah99 writes "After snapping up virtualization company InnoTek at the beginning of the year, Sun has recently released VirtualBox as a fully functional and highly polished free GPL open source x86 Virtual Machine. It can host 32- or 64-bit Linux, Windows XP Vista and 98, OpenSolaris and DOS. It runs on Mac OS X, Windows, and Unix platforms. The download is just 27MB. A review of it on MacWorld, showing HD movies playing inside windows XP on a mac, demonstrates performance visually indistinguishable from VMware. Like its competition, it can run other OSes in rootless, rooted, or seamless modes display modes (where all the applications have their windows mixed at the same time). Each VM instance can only run single core (though I/O is multi-core), and it does not yet support advanced windows graphics libraries however, so some gamers may be disappointed. Slashdot discussed the InnoTek acquisition earlier.

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354 comments

InnoTek? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24408941)

Umm, yeah. Did you get the memo?

Re:InnoTek? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24409787)

In Soviet Russia, the mondays get a case of YOU!

it was released before sun bought it (4, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#24408943)

but yeah, in the last few months, it's seen some polishing (particularly the Macintosh features).

Re:it was released before sun bought it (5, Informative)

Mental Maelstrom (1268890) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409439)

True. VirtualBox was GPL2'd in January 2007, Sun acquired InnoTek in February 2008 (source [wikipedia.org]). So it was actually InnoTek, not Sun, who released VirtualBox into the wild in the first place. :-)

Mentions comparible speeds to VMware... (5, Interesting)

Drinking Bleach (975757) | more than 5 years ago | (#24408955)

In my experience, I've actually found VirtualBox to be much faster than VMware, and coupled with the far less demanding system requirements (at least for the VM software itself, it doesn't do much to reduce guest sys requirements, of course :P), I haven't used VMware for over a year and half now.

Re:Mentions comparible speeds to VMware... (3, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409129)

I had nothing but problems with it when I was testing it a couple of months ago. I couldn't get the networking to work in NAT mode, and bridging mode on a laptop ain't always the best idea. Maybe I'll give it another shot.

Re:Mentions comparible speeds to VMware... (1)

grub (11606) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409575)


I've been using VB on Ubuntu with a dual-core Intel chip. Runs XP in a VM considerably faster than the older physical box I migrated it from. Only use the real box for playing games at lunch.

Re:Mentions comparible speeds to VMware... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24409823)

I couldn't get the networking to work in NAT mode, and bridging mode on a laptop ain't always the best idea.

There was a nice bug in 1.6.0 that severely hindered networking, it has been fixed in 1.6.2 though. I only had problems with bridges and tun devices, I didn't try NAT, the bug reports had windows hosts and Linux guests, my situation had Windows and Linux guests on a Linux host. To summarize the bug: networking works perfectly until you reboot the VM, then there is no working network.

Re:Mentions comparible speeds to VMware... (4, Informative)

Zancarius (414244) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409873)

I had nothing but problems with it when I was testing it a couple of months ago. I couldn't get the networking to work in NAT mode, and bridging mode on a laptop ain't always the best idea. Maybe I'll give it another shot.

Getting the networking system to work is a bit of a pain, but I've only had minor difficulties when using the host interface. NAT will work, but you won't be able to ping or access any resources in your own network (which is a bad thing if you have a fileserver at home and wish to access it on a VM). There are, however, a few tutorials that can help you get started with bridging your network for Windows hosts [wordpress.com] or a variety of Linux [gentoo-wiki.com] hosts [ubuntu.com].

FreeBSD is the only guest OS I've had difficulties with (even MSDOS will work, but it requires some additions to prevent it from eating up your cycles like crazy--FreeDOS plays nicely, though). I could only ever get the NAT-based networking to work and even then it would freeze whenever IO operations peaked.

Take a look at some of those articles, and you might be able to get networking up and running in VirtualBox! I have to say, for something of a FOSS offering, it's really nice.

Re:Mentions comparible speeds to VMware... (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 5 years ago | (#24410001)

I've had NAT working with Fedora 8 and Fedora 9 with VirtualBox 1.6.0 and 1.6.2 on my Windows XP laptop. I set up both of those for PCnet-FAST III (NAT) on Network Adapter 0 and have had no problems. I've had some problems with the guest additions in both versions, though.

Re:Mentions comparible speeds to VMware... (3, Interesting)

adisakp (705706) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409345)

In my experience, I've actually found VirtualBox to be much faster than VMware

VMWare supports multiple CPUs (2 cores visible on Guest OS) and also supports hardware accelerated 3D. Have you tried running any 3D or multithreaded apps under VMWare and VirtualBox? I find that VMWare is quite fast if you install the VMTools in the guest OS and the integration (cross VM copy/past / drag and drop, seamless mouse pointer, etc) is quite nice.

One of the main things I like about VMWare is the "Snapshot" capability which lets you create multiple "restore" points (in an easy to use visual "tree" manager) that you can instantly return to. In fact you can have a VM automatically revert to a snapshot. Does VirtualBox have any sort of advanced snapshot management?

Re:Mentions comparible speeds to VMware... (3, Informative)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409427)

"One of the main things I like about VMWare is the "Snapshot" capability which lets you create multiple "restore" points (in an easy to use visual "tree" manager) that you can instantly return to. In fact you can have a VM automatically revert to a snapshot. Does VirtualBox have any sort of advanced snapshot management?"

Yep.

Re:Mentions comparible speeds to VMware... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24410073)

Yep.

+5 Informative, -1 Detailed

so what kind of VM is this (4, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409509)

Does this thing run the VM as some sort of hypervisor underneath the OS or does it piggyback the other OS's on a parent OS.

If It's a hypervisor like thing where all the OS's' are symmetric then I guess it must be getting in the way of my "normal" OS and limiting it to single core?

If it's not a hypervisor/symmetric VM and one OS is the master, Do all the OS's have full access to the hardware functions. So for example if I my mac is the master OS, and I set up a firewall set, does the windows OS have to go through the mac's firewall (and thus be protected better) or does it have direct access to the ports itself. If the latter who negotiates the conflicts when both want the CD or audio port.

Finally, are the VMs portabel from machine to machine. Or even platform to platform.

So If I create a VM on one machine, save it's state and open it on another machine, does it just run? (even the network settings?) What if the second machine was say an AMD and the first an Intel. What if the first host was a mac and the second host a linux machine?

Re:Mentions comparible speeds to VMware... (1)

oever (233119) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409881)

I have the same experience when emulating 32 bit windows XP on 64 bit Linux on a quadcore processor (Q6600). The speed difference is huge. VMWare can virtualize multiple cores whereas VirtualBox do only a single processor. Nevertheless, a VMWare machine that can use two cores feels much slower than a VirtualBox machine that can use only one. Integration into the desktop is nice very nice too: one can hide the Windows desktop and have the Windows windows appear over a linux desktop.

My only two complaints are that certain actions in Windows XP can cause a blue screen in the virtual machine and that SMB networking is not entirely reliable.

VirtualBox! (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24409011)

The best virtualization I've found for windows hosts. Works great - I run Vista Ultimate host & Ubuntu guest in seamless mode on my laptop and everything is still fast as hell!

Re:VirtualBox! (-1, Troll)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409039)

If you are running Vista, I'm assuming you have 32 GB of RAM, and about 4 8-core CPUs. Unless you mean to say that Hell is very, very slow.

Re:VirtualBox! (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409379)

Not to knock the multiplatform and OS aspects of this but I had Vista Ultimate under Virtual PC on XP with a single core sempron 2800 and I found it surprisingly responsive/usable.

Re:VirtualBox! (2, Interesting)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409683)

I run Vista Ultimate host & Ubuntu guest in seamless mode on my laptop and everything is still fast as hell!

I highly recommend swapping that around. I run a Vista guest on Ubuntu and it is really quick - for some reason the Vista boot time seems quicker in the VM (?) - and that gives me 3D acceleration for Ubuntu. It works out a bit better for me because the 3D desktop in Vista is pretty, but the 3D desktop on Ubuntu is highly functional and much more configurable. I'll take the form + function over just form any day.

It's also kinda cool running Vista in a root window and blowing peoples mind by doing regular windows stuff, then hitting some magic key combination to rotate a cube to a completely different system. Of course I have completely re-themed the Ubuntu system and installed emerald - rotating from vista to a turd invokes the wrong sort of "wow".

Wow! (5, Funny)

gazbo (517111) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409031)

Free, GPL AND open source? All in one package? However do they do it?!

Volume! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24409493)

They lose a little on each sale, but they make up for it in volume.

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24409511)

Unpossible!

Darkhorse (4, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409049)

It looks like a viable candidate for a VM, but still a bit behind the leaders. VMWare and Parallels seem to be better choices if you can afford them, but hopefully being free as in beer and GPL will allow it to catch up rapidly and make the ongoing competition even better. If they can get 3D graphics card support running, I will be looking really hard at VirtualBox.

Re:Darkhorse (1, Insightful)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409483)

"VMWare and Parallels seem to be better choices"

On which facts do you base your assertion? I understand the 3D issue (by the way does Parallels do 3D?) but other than that?

Re:Darkhorse (1, Interesting)

Firehed (942385) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409609)

I'm curious as to how your experiences have been with 3d in other virtualization software. As of yesterday, I couldn't even get Counter-strike:Source to open in VMWare (which is hardly resource-intensive by today's standards), let alone play; my experiences in Parallels, while less recent, have been pretty much the same. I've of course tried several other games with similar results. Maybe their 3d goals are more CAD/workstation-oriented, but that's frankly irrelevant to me.

Anyone else with some insight?

Re:Darkhorse (1)

antime (739998) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409925)

I've successfully run Half-Life 2 under Parallels Desktop (ie. on a Mac host). I had to turn all the details way down to get it running at a playable speed, but it ran. The big thing is to remember to increase the video memory allocation in the VM settings. By default it reserves only something like 4MB for the virtual machine, which obviously is not enough for any game made this century.

Re:Darkhorse (1)

zachtib (828265) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409935)

I'm curious as to how your experiences have been with 3d in other virtualization software. As of yesterday, I couldn't even get Counter-strike:Source to open in VMWare (which is hardly resource-intensive by today's standards), let alone play; my experiences in Parallels, while less recent, have been pretty much the same. I've of course tried several other games with similar results. Maybe their 3d goals are more CAD/workstation-oriented, but that's frankly irrelevant to me.

Anyone else with some insight?

I can run CS:S in a VM decently. On default settings it gets 35fps in the included stress test. Note that only Workstation 6.5 has support for DirectX 9 in guests, WS 6.0 does not.

Re:Darkhorse (4, Informative)

cbart387 (1192883) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409805)

VMWare and Parallels seem to be better choices if you can afford them

vmware server edition is free, barring a registration via email. At least it was 3 months ago...

Re:Darkhorse (1)

zachtib (828265) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409955)

yes it still is, and the RC of Server 2.0 is out as well, not to mention that ESXi is also free as of a few days ago

Re:Darkhorse (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#24410129)

Parallels sold me their desktop software when I bought an Intel Mac. After repeated crashes (OS X kernel panics, not just application panics), they finally admitted that it was their fault and they hadn't read the documentation about how inter-processor interrupts were meant to work, so their kernel module crashed regularly on any Core 2 Duo machine. Their suggested fix? Buy the new version. Those pirates deserve to go out of business.

Binaries not Free (5, Informative)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409051)

 2 Grant of license. (1) Sun grants you a personal right to install and execute the Product on a Host Computer for Personal Use or Educational Use or for Evaluation. âoePersonal Useâ requires that you use the product on the same Host Computer where you installed it yourself and that no more than one client connect to that Host Computer at a time for the purpose of displaying Guest Computers remotely. âoeEducational useâ is any use in an academic institution (schools, colleges and universities, by teachers and students). âoeEvaluationâ means testing the product for a reasonable period (that is, normally for a few weeks); after expiry of that term, you are no longer permitted to evaluate the Product.

The binaries are not Free for corporate use. The source is free (GPL) but good fucking luck compiling it on a windows machine. Maybe you could compile it on a linux machine but on windows it assumes a development environment complete with every freakin' thing under the Sun (no pun intended). I gave up after two days of trying to get it to work.

Re:Binaries not Free (5, Insightful)

Drinking Bleach (975757) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409091)

You're already using Windows -- what's so odd about buying a license?

Re:Binaries not Free (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409163)

It's not odd that they want to charge for their product, it's odd that they charge for the binaries, but not the source. That's the odd thing.

Contribution from non-FOSS users? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24409431)

It's not odd that they want to charge for their product, it's odd that they charge for the binaries, but not the source. That's the odd thing.

It's not odd if you look at it from a contribution standpoint.

The FOSS community contributes to VirtualBox directly through help with development, testing and bug fixing on the project, as well as indirectly through their efforts on all the other FOSS projects upon which VirtualBox depends, including toolchains and mountains of utilities. Availability of source code is clearly not optional for this.

Windows binary users get a bit of a free ride on the back of all that hard work, so instead they contribute to VirtualBox by providing a bit of cash. They don't need access to the source code nor a build environment for this, and what's more, in the Windows environment it's very normal and expected to pay for your packages.

So, the VirtualBox product offering seems quite well adjusted to its two communities, and quite fair as well.

Re:Binaries not Free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24409503)

it's odd that they charge for the binaries, but not the source. That's the odd thing.

That's not odd at all. Many companies do that, and it's even mentioned in the GPL [gnu.org].

Re:Binaries not Free (2)

paulbd (118132) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409825)

Not odd at all ... you can have the source for free - since anyone else can give it you as well. But if they do the work of building it, they want you to pay for the time and effort you've saved (which apparently on Windows, seems like quite a bit).

Re:Binaries not Free (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409189)

See, this is one part where a package management tool comes in handy. For example, the binaries that are provided by Sun are not free, BUT when Debian takes the GPL'd source, and makes a .deb file, it is free.

Re:Binaries not Free (0, Flamebait)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409627)

The Sun binaries are built by paid professionals who wrote and understand the code. The debian package will be built by someone who doesn't understand what he's doing, but commenting out that code prevents compiler warnings so it must be an improvement.

I like that bussiness model (5, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409353)

That bussiness model seems pretty fair to me. Release the code GPL, free binaries for non commerical use, and sell the binaries for corporate clients. They are essentially charging companies for the time and expertise it takes to compile it. And presumably it means they only have to offer support to paying corprorate customers.

A nice thing about that model is that it caps the price at the value added. Think sun is charging too much? compile it yourself and support it yourself. The value contained in the code itself, and value added to the code by unpaid GPL contributors, is not part of the price this way.

And that's a very nice way to make money off GPL. You're not cheating the contributors at all. And anyone can go into competition with sun for the compiling. So it comes down to charging for the value added by sun in compiling and servicing it.

Not quite the same as RedHat's model but highly simmilar

Re:I like that bussiness model (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409635)

Last time I checked I could get Red Hat for free and pay for support if I needed it. I work for a small company. I just need virtualbox for one specific thing. I'm not in a position to pitch it to my boss.

Re:I like that bussiness model (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24409711)

Last time I checked I could get Red Hat for free and pay for support if I needed it. I work for a small company. I just need virtualbox for one specific thing. I'm not in a position to pitch it to my boss.

the parent said it was fair, not free. You are free to compile it yourself or hope someone else does, or pay a reasonable fee for any of several VM choices.

Re:I like that bussiness model (2, Insightful)

radarsat1 (786772) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409913)

A nice thing about that model is that it caps the price at the value added. Think sun is charging too much? compile it yourself and support it yourself.

Until someone does figure out to compile and releases a nice auto-build tool under GPL that anyone can use with the click of a mouse. Then it's back to Litigation City.

For example, if I understand correctly, this is basically what happened with WineX, the custom Wine port for Cedega. They release the source as subversion (not tarball) but provided binaries for a cost. They even made it pretty difficult to find the svn repository, but it would be mentioned here or there on a forum, or maybe a single small link on their site. Finally someone managed to produce a script that would download the source and compile it in one easy shot. In fairness, they did not go legal on it. (Not sure they would have a case anyways.) But they did ask politely to have it removed, I think, from Gentoo for example, who complied. (With or without fuss, I don't remember.) But basically their business model relied on everyone being polite, which as I'm sure you'll agree can, unfortunately, only last so long. It's not a good long-term business plan.

Usually ideas based essentially on obfuscation (difficulty to decypher, or in this case, difficulty to compile) don't have much to them. It's just another example of false and temporary scarcity that the information economy relies on so heavily.

Re:Binaries not Free (5, Interesting)

adisakp (705706) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409383)

The binaries are not Free for corporate use. The source is free (GPL) but good fucking luck compiling it on a windows machine. Maybe you could compile it on a linux machine but on windows it assumes a development environment complete with every freakin' thing under the Sun (no pun intended). I gave up after two days of trying to get it to work.

Go recursive / self-hosted build. You could always set up a VirtualBox VM with the appropriate development environment to build VirtualBox :-)

It get's even better - the source *won't* compile (5, Interesting)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409499)

I too ran into this problem where I wanted the OSE (Open Source Edition) GPL binaries on Windows. I already had Visual Studio installed, so that wasn't a big deal, but one of the requirements to build is having the MinGW g++ compiler, so now you have a situation where you need two seperate c++ compilers to compile the thing, which is kind of wierd. On top of that you need to download and install the DirectX SDK and the Windows Driver Kit, along with several open source libraries (ok, needing various library dependencies is kind of of par for the course though).

After finally getting everything downloaded and unpacked into a build tree, and getting all the command line arguments for their configure script (so it would know where to find all the libraries), the build process ran for about 1/2 hour then died with a type casting error related to the USB device driver. Now, according to the VirtualBox website, the USB wasn't even supposed to be part of the Open Source Edition (and I suspect that might be part of why I got the errors - because it was expecting it and it wasn't there).

I asked on the VirtualBox forums and developer mailing list, and after a week someone said that they got it to build by commenting out the 2 lines that generated the build error. But now I'm *very afraid*. A Debian developer who 'got rid of build errors' by commenting out 2 very critical lines of source code put hundreds of thousands or millions of users in jeopardy (because of weak SSL keys generated with insufficient randomness). I have no idea what the long term effects of commenting out those two lines of code are, so I wouldn't be comfortable distributing the OSE binaries I built to anyone anyhow.

On that topic - I'm not sure whether *any* binaries built of VirtualBox could legally be distributed under the GPL, anyhow - I'm worried about the fact that it depends on the DirectX SDK and Windows Driver Kit - would the terms of either of those 'poison' the binaries?

I should, I suppose, mention that it's possible that since the version of the source that I downloaded, the VBox developers may have fixed the compile issue, but the whole thing just reeks of trying to appear to be GPL, while making it practically impossible for most users (on Windows, at least) to get it working from source, starting with the fact that you can't compile it on Windows without Visual C++, and continuing on to the un-compilability of the source code version which was released at the time I tried to build the binaries ( about a month ago ).

Re:It get's even better - the source *won't* compi (1)

cortana (588495) | more than 5 years ago | (#24410047)

On that topic - I'm not sure whether *any* binaries built of VirtualBox could legally be distributed under the GPL, anyhow - I'm worried about the fact that it depends on the DirectX SDK and Windows Driver Kit - would the terms of either of those 'poison' the binaries?

Depends whether their copyright holders (Microsoft) considered that binaries linked against them comprise a derivative work. Best check their respective licenses.

You should also consider whether the works you distribute use any of Sun's trademarks or patents; if so you will need a license to use them (or you will need to remove the offending trademarks and code implementing the patents from your compiled version).

I should, I suppose, mention that it's possible that since the version of the source that I downloaded, the VBox developers may have fixed the compile issue, but the whole thing just reeks of trying to appear to be GPL, while making it practically impossible for most users (on Windows, at least) to get it working from source, starting with the fact that you can't compile it on Windows without Visual C++, and continuing on to the un-compilability of the source code version which was released at the time I tried to build the binaries ( about a month ago ).

I'm curious to know: were you trying a released version, or an SVN checkout? And did you file a bug report? That's a better way to bring your problem to the attention of the developers than posting on a random forum.

Besides, developing software on Windows will always be an unpleasant and frustrating experience. Those who undertake it deserve at least my sympathy, and if they want to charge for the result then I don't have a problem with it.

If someone else comes along and decides that Sun are charging too much, they can always improve the build process (of course, Sun might not accept the patches back... we know they are, TBH, terrible with regards to actually managing the interaction between non-Sun contributors and Sun developers in their open source projects).

At the end of the day, I guess I don't really care, because I don't use Windows. All I have to do to get it running is install the virtualbox-ose package. If I want to build it myself, I have only to run dpkg-buildpackage. Maybe some day Microsoft will catch up.

Re:Binaries not Free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24409507)

Well, on windows you could just use Virtualbox inside a VMWare linux session. :-/

Re:Binaries not Free (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24409561)

From the VirtualBox Personal Use and Evaluation License (PUEL):

"Personal Use" requires that you use the product on the same Host Computer where you installed it yourself and that no more than one client connect to that Host Computer at a time for the purpose of displaying Guest Computers remotely.

It does not restrict corporate use. Their definition of personal use is quite different from most licenses.

Re:Binaries not Free (5, Informative)

TheBig1 (966884) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409857)

This is not quite correct - in the FAQ they state that you can use it on work machines and still have it count as personal use (even if it is used for buisiness purposes). However, if you make an install image and roll out to 1000 users, that would count as an enterprise install. See Virtual Box FAQ, point 6. [virtualbox.org]

Overall, I think this is quite a fair license and restriction.

Cheers

Re:Binaries not Free (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 5 years ago | (#24410027)

"Well I didn't know that!" Said in the same tone as Seth Rogan in The 40 Year Old Virgin when he realizes David's Ex (played by Mindy Kaling of "The Office" Fame) has really been trying to stay away from David and that David is stalking her.

I'll install the binary right away.

Works for me (5, Informative)

trampel (464001) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409065)

I've been using the non-GPL version since before Sun acquired them to run XP-only work software under Linux on an 1.5GHz Athlon, with decent performance.

The weird thing is that the boot time for XP in the virtual machine is shorter than on the real one.

Re:Works for me (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409157)

What would be so odd about that? With a real XP install a cold boot has to go through A) The BIOS (about 3-4 seconds) B) The bootloader (depends) and C) The actual boot up. With a VM you only have to do C. And that isn't including any tweaks that the VM authors have done to speed up XP.

Re:Works for me (4, Informative)

setagllib (753300) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409361)

Virtual machines have their own [very fast] BIOS and bootloader. The only exception is when you run a Linux kernel from an intelligent tool like QEMU/KVM or Xen which can load a kernel from the host and inject it into the virtual machine to boot the guest.

The fact remains that real devices have warmup sequences which cannot be altogether avoided. The closest the world has come to VM-like booting is LinuxBIOS, which cuts down the device initialisation to the point that Linux can boot on top almost instantly, just like in a virtual machine.

Re:Works for me (2, Interesting)

ShadeARG (306487) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409569)

The parent poster is saying that the XP startup sequence, from the 3 bars that marquee to the login/desktop is a lot faster. Even Vista flies unnaturally under VirtualBox with only 512MB of RAM dedicated to it on an AM2 5000+ BE processor without hardware virtualization enabled.

I refuse to run Vista on a real machine--I've seen one too many horrifying installs with quality WHQL certified hardware go horribly wrong. I don't mind running Vista in VirtualBox, it behaves very well. The only snag I ran into was slow network performance caused by the default PCnet-FAST III network interface. I switched over to an Intel PRO/1000 MT Desktop virtual NIC and it runs like a champ.

I can't emphasize enough how unbelievably VirtualBox performs. I can even run 2000 SP4, XP SP3, Vista SP1 and variety of Linux guests at the same time, and each one is snappy. Check it out if you haven't with the guest additions installed. I guarantee that you will be greatly surprised.

Re:Works for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24409373)

The weird thing is that the boot time for XP in the virtual machine is shorter than on the real one.

A real-world PC has to support a very wide variety of hardware. When it starts it has to probe & search for all kind weird things. Memory, dma, pci buses, usb, hard disks, floppies, CD/DVD, firewire, video bios, etc.

On the other hand a virtual machine is a known quantity with very limited emulated hardware support.

Re:Works for me (2, Informative)

black6host (469985) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409749)

I, too, use the non-GPL version and I've been most happy with it. My host is Ubuntu Hardy, with a variety of guests. Sharepoint development is best done on a Windows Server box so that is my main guest (SBS 2003), which I run in seamless mode. Got an XP guest running at the same time for testing and while I didn't bother to try and set up NAT between the two guests I've had no problem with networking. 2 virtual cards in both guests allow the guests to communicate on one segment to each other, and to the host as well on another. Couple that with shared folders and it's a pretty slick development environment. Seamless mode has a few quirks with the display but I've found as long as I have at least one windows app on the display (usually something I'd have open anyway but with the window sized very small) the issues are minimal. Add in the fact that remote access to my production server is a piece of cake and I can play with my WM6 phone in a windows environment (USB support is good, though a bit tricky to set up) and I'm more than pleased.

A Good VM (5, Informative)

lgbr (700550) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409075)

I find this to be an excellent VM that continues to make a lot of progress. After using VMWare server, Bochs, and QEmu, this one really takes the cake on both performance and usability. Virtual machines are easy to set up using a nice graphical interface, and all of the bells and whistles require no extensive configuration (sound, mouse integration). Running a Gentoo hardened Linux on amd64? No problem. Some of the features that really put VirtualBox above the rest for me:

  • Intel E1000 Support.
  • Seamless window integration for popular OSes
  • Shared folders
  • VT-x/AMD-V and PAE/NX Support
  • Headless support

Best of all, it's FOSS.

Re:A Good VM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24409437)

... After using VMWare server, Bochs, and QEmu, this one really takes the cake ...

Mmmm ... cake.

Re:A Good VM (1)

grub (11606) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409637)


VT-x/AMD-V and PAE/NX Support

The last I recall reading about these, VirtualBox disables the support by default at their own funky dynamic stuff is faster than the more expensive switching that the hardware virtualizing does.

Re:A Good VM (1)

cute-boy (62961) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409771)

Running a Gentoo hardened Linux on amd64? No problem.

Being a Gentoo user, you compiled Virtual Box yourself from the source?

R

Re:A Good VM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24409937)

emerge virtualbox

Sun (5, Interesting)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409077)

Sun has consistently appeared to be one of the largest corporate supporters of OSS, and their hardware is rock solid, yet they seem to get bashed every time they come up. It seems like they've been busy giving away the keys to the castle so to speak, but it never seems to be enough. What does everybody have against Sun?

Re:Sun (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409125)

Because, by keeping some parts of things proprietary, Sun comes off as a hypocrite. We either want a company to praise (such as Red Hat) or a company to hate (such as Microsoft), but one that keeps some things proprietary and some things in the open just makes us wonder why. For example, we know the main reason why Apple went on an open-sourcing binge when OS X was released, to keep Apple relevant, but Sun never really had a down time like Apple did around the OS 9 era.

Re:Sun (5, Informative)

Drinking Bleach (975757) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409195)

Sun was a proprietary vendor for quite a long time. Practically the whole reason that they take so long between announcing something is going to be open source (eg, Solaris and Java) and actually getting it into the public, is auditing the entire source tree to make sure they don't release some component licensed from some other company when they're not supposed to do that.

Re:Sun (2)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409213)

In that case it should be much easier to criticize Apple. It seems Sun is open sourcing things as quickly as they can deal with the legal ramifications, Apple is nothing like that.

I've been reading the Sun ceo's blog lately, and it seems like every post talks about open source at some point or another.

Re:Sun (4, Interesting)

Zancarius (414244) | more than 5 years ago | (#24410069)

I've been reading the Sun ceo's blog lately, and it seems like every post talks about open source at some point or another.

I have to agree. Jonathan Schwartz is a very brilliant individual, and his blog entries make for informative and often entertaining reads. His take on applying FOSS in the corporate world is very interesting, particularly in these times where the technological world seems to be moving away from proprietary software.

I very much believe that part of the reason Schwartz is so vehement about open sourcing Sun's offerings is partially the result of genuine goodwill. However, I also believe that much of the reason is due in no small part to his desire to a) keep Sun relevant in the news (it works to get headlines!), b) when he mentions Sun's GPL/OSI-approved software, he tends to also press the issues of maintainability, dependability, and Sun's commitment to continued support (i.e. it's open source and we can fix it if something goes wrong), and c) I think it may also be partially viral. One merely has to take a glance at the various languages (especially in the web development/scripting sphere) to understand how open sourcing the interpreter, virtual machine, or compiler tends to bolster a product's popularity. Yes, there are certainly failures in this regard, but considering Python, Perl, PHP, Ruby, LUA, and company (let's not forget the popularity of gcc when it comes to C/C++!), the only thing that surprises me is that Sun didn't open source Java sooner.

Schwartz is a good man, and I'd like to believe that while he's looking out for maintaining Sun's relevance in the years ahead as well as pushing their own product offerings and support, he's also doing good for the community as a whole. As other posters stated before, it's really a moot point getting on Sun's case; there are serious, often frightening legal implications when you open up your source--especially if you licensed parts of it from other companies. It isn't that Sun wishes to do anything evil, it's just that their hands are tied by companies that don't exactly see the world in the same light as the rest of us do (remember the fiasco regarding Java's sound libraries and the Dolby or THX issues? that's a good example).

Bravo to Sun. VirtualBox is an awesome product, and I'm glad that they've added it to their product portfolio.

Re:Sun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24409235)

"but one that keeps some things proprietary and some things in the open just makes us wonder why. "

Any business would be worried about competition from free software, Microsoft attacked apache just for that reason, it hates the fact that it is used in the server space instead of having a monoculture of something like windows server.

Re:Sun (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409413)

But there are truly open companies such as Red Hat that even though there are clones using the Red Hat source (such as Cent OS) Red Hat still has yet to go bankrupt from that.

Re:Sun (3, Interesting)

MobyTurbo (537363) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409795)

For example, we know the main reason why Apple went on an open-sourcing binge when OS X was released, to keep Apple relevant, but Sun never really had a down time like Apple did around the OS 9 era.

The main reason why OS X has so much open source has nothing to do with "an attempt to keep Apple relevant", it was because when NeXTStep (OS X's ancestor, why do you think most of the API still begins with NS?) was made, Unixes that were based on BSD Unix were the de-facto standard, and the Mach microkernel was considered state of the art. There were a *lot* of Unixes that were partially open source (though this predates the open source movement) and partially proprietary at the time. OS X simply has heritage from a codebase that was state of the art Unix circa the late 80s. (Predating Linux by several years.)

Re:Sun (5, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409367)

Sun has consistently appeared to be one of the largest corporate supporters of OSS, and their hardware is rock solid, yet they seem to get bashed every time they come up... What does everybody have against Sun?

Personally, I appreciate Sun's OSS work. I do understand some of the sentiment though. Sun often seems to be a day late and a dollar short in their OSS ventures. They waited to release OpenSolaris under a reasonable OSS license until Linux had completely dominated that niche. Ditto with many other technologies. Even now, it is a real pain in the butt to actually get a copy of OpenSolaris and install it as a normal user. They make you install a proprietary download manager and give them a bunch of personal info. On almost all of their projects, developers not working at Sun complain about how hard it is to get changes and contributions added to those projects, because of all the red tape. Sun's OSS motto might be "we'll do OSS if we have no other option, and then we'll make it annoying". In this case they've made the binaries for this project unavailable for corporate users in a clear attempt to try to make things artificially hard so they can make money on unnecessary service contracts, instead of making it easy and concentrating on service contracts where they can provide real value (the former strategy often resulting in lesser adoption of their projects, to the detriment of said project).

I'd like to stress that I do appreciate their work. Unlike another person replying, I have no problem with their creating and profiting from both proprietary and OSS projects. They just are a big business that despite being a large OSS contributor, does not play very well with individuals or the OSS community as a whole. It leaves a lot of us personally frustrated with them when we expect them to behave like other big OSS contributors. Heck, even Apple is easier to collaborate with.

Re:Sun (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24409393)

Have you looked at what the open source version of virtualbox currently lacks?


The following list shows the enterprise features that are only present in the closed-source edition. Note that this list may change over time as some of these features will eventually be made available with the open-source version as well.

        * Remote Display Protocol (RDP) Server

        This component implements a complete RDP server on top of the virtual hardware and allows users to connect to a virtual machine remotely using any RDP compatible client.

        * USB support

        VirtualBox implements a virtual USB controller and supports passing through USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 devices to virtual machines.

        * USB over RDP

        This is a combination of the RDP server and USB support allowing users to make USB devices available to virtual machines running remotely.

        * iSCSI initiator

        VirtualBox contains a builtin iSCSI initiator making it possible to use iSCSI targets as virtual disks without the guest requiring support for iSCSI.

        * Serial ATA controller

        Like a real SATA controller, VirtualBoxâ(TM)s virtual SATA controller operates faster and also consumes less CPU resources than the virtual IDE controller. Also, this allows you to connect more than three virtual hard disks to the machine.

I could understand iSCSI and RDP, but c'mon, USB too!
To me they're just trying to get good PR from the Open Source community for an almost unusable piece of software, to push the closed source version. While certainly much better than Microsoft, Apple and others, that's still not open enough for me.

Re:Sun (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24409429)

The short answer is that Sun won't get on the Linux bandwagon.

The slightly longer answer is that they are actually trying to compete with Linux. And some people will even say that Solaris is, in some ways, better than Linux. That's apostasy of the highest order for the Slashdot crowd.

A longer answer still is that most people on Slashdot are probably exposed to the worst of Sun as part of their jobs: the 10-year old behemoths. They haven't been updated in years (if ever). You can't buy parts for them, and even if you could, they're a bitch to work with because they weigh a million pounds. You spend a large part of your day just trying to keep them shuffling off this mortal coil for just a few more days. And you still often get calls about them in the middle of the night. Then you turn to your fellow admin, the guy who runs 100 shiny new Dells with RHEL5. Who has 100 times as many servers as you, but spends his entire day reading Slashdot. And you burn with hate for Solaris. It's not fair -- a 10-year old Linux box is going to be in a far worse state than a 10-year old Sun box -- but it is the way people think.

I guess the really short answer is: "A lot of reasons, none of them very good."

Bash Sun (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#24410137)

Name a company that doesn't get bashed here. Everybody has somebody pissed off at them. Sun actually does pretty well in Slashdot discussions compared to, say, SCO.

Besides, where's the bashing in this discussion? Sun has a product. Some people say they like it. Some are less enthusiastic. Not exactly a lynching.

does anyone know of a good howto (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409201)

on how to run Windows Vista preinstalled on a separate partition from VirtualBox (itself running on linux)?

I tried (not very hard) to follow the docs, and failed dismally.

tia

Idiots can't speak English (-1, Offtopic)

Brebs (888917) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409233)

"Like it's competition"

Learn some fucking grammar. It's "its".

performace (5, Interesting)

brezel (890656) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409255)

"demonstrates performance visually indistinguishable from VMware"

what? i have been running vmware on my linux workstation at work for years and recently switched to virtualbox and realized that virtualbox is in orders of magnitude snappier, faster and less ressource-intensive than vmware.

just the fact that mouse support works absolutely flawless in vb is an enormous advantage over vmware. i am not even going into how much i/o wait vmware seemed to cause all the time which vb simply doesn't (yes the settings are comparable:>)

NEVER will i go back to vmware again (at least not on the desktop)

Mac? (2)

mrdoogee (1179081) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409331)

I checked the site and it says that the OS X version is still in beta. Any 10.5 users tried this yet? Specifically with XP?

support advanced windows graphic.. (1)

jwhitener (198343) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409341)

"and it does not yet support advanced windows graphics libraries"

I was under the impression that no virtual servers support advanced/3d graphics.

Please tell me I'm wrong, and I'll uninstall my copy of windows today:)

Re:support advanced windows graphic.. (1)

igb (28052) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409475)

VMware Fusion mutters about supporting DirectX 9 on appropriate hardware, presumably for playing Windows games on Mac iron. It doesn't affect me: I use Fusion mostly to run Solaris on my Mac, plus a tiny Windows instance to support an X10 adapter and a Brother label printer, and I've not played a computer game since wasting a day on ADVENT in 1983. But I believe it's there for those that want it.

Re:support advanced windows graphic.. (2, Informative)

Panaflex (13191) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409621)

Better get crackin... VMWare supports DirectX 9 (on appropriate hardware).

straight on to boing boing (4, Funny)

davejenkins (99111) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409351)

So, can I run my xbox through it? I need to be able to run simultaneously:
1) xbox halo
2) mac for screen grabs and skype
3) red hat terminals for server access
4) windows for outlook and skype

Plus, I need to be able to take screen grabs in any one of these virtual environments and save them into one or more of the others.

Bonus points if it has 'arrange by penis' for the desktop environments.

Re:straight on to boing boing (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409553)

Actually, you can run multiple VM's at the same time and have them use their own private network (but good luck setting up non-nat network). Along with the shared files, I think it can do most of what you require.

The only difficult part would be running xbox halo, sorry. No "don't shut down the server" for you :)

But will it run OS X? (3, Interesting)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409385)

Does it emulate whatever Apple hardware OS X checks for, or will it still need a patched OS?

Great for desktop use, not so much for servers (2, Informative)

cduffy (652) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409389)

No 64-bit support in released versions. No libvirt driver (yes, there's a fancy C++ API; libvirt is simpler and easier and has bindings for everything).

It's fantastic for running a Windows desktop VM -- particularly with the seamless-mode support -- but has no place anywhere near my QA lab.

No 64-Bit Hosts (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24409517)

I've been running it since before the InnoTek acquisition. They do not currently support 64-bit guests, though they claim it is in the works. It does however work on a 64-bit host.

Does NOT support 64bit guest OS (2, Informative)

bluefrogcs (656231) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409559)

not yet, maybe in the future. You can run virtualbox in a 32bit or 64bit host, but can't run a 64bit guest OS.

Open source edition is missing USB and SATA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24409653)

Read their editions page. The "extra enterprise only" features include USB support (even 1.1) and a SATA controller.

http://virtualbox.org/wiki/Editions

VMware still wins. (3, Informative)

functor (31042) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409731)

VirtualBox's greatest failing is that in using QEMU's I/O and networking code, they've made it a royal pain to set up bridged-mode networking on Linux hosts. You get to write two scripts, to add and remove a TAP device from a host-side bridge, and get to set up said bridge on the host yourself. Not only this, since the 2.6.18 kernel you need to run VirtualBox VMs as root (or set up sudo with /etc/sudoers not to prompt for a password and use it within your scripts), because only the superuser can manipulate the TAP/TUN devices; chmodding them writable by a particular privileged group is insufficient.

Compare to VMware, which handles all the bridging etc. by itself—much more convenient to use.

Then there are VirtualBox's "Guru meditations", obscure ERROR_MESSAGES_THAT_LOOK_LIKE_THIS and provide minimal information, often requiring perusal of the source code to figure out what's wrong. This is entirely unsuitable for end users as well as people whose time is valuable.

Finally, I tend to run a 64-bit kernel with 32-bit userspace. VirtualBox does not support this combination—it's either 32-bit kernel with 32-bit userspace or 64-bit kernel with 64-bit userspace. (VMware on the other hand does support 64-bit kernel with 32-bit userspace; its failing is that [as far as I know] there is no non-beta 64-bit userspace for VMware yet, though this will change with the release of VMware Server 2.0 and VMware Workstation 6.5.) This is only really a problem on Debian and Debian-derived distributions like Ubuntu, whose package manager (dpkg) is too incompetent to handle multiarch properly, despite work ongoing for about four years [debian.org] now, so the user has to set up a 64-bit chroot environment [virtualbox.org]. (Fedora, RHEL and CentOS get this right; rpm can handle multiarch properly, so it's only a matter of installing the appropriate libraries there.)

VMware also supports 64-bit guests on certain processors. VirtualBox doesn't support 64-bit guests at all.

So in my view, between the two, VMware still wins, open source or no open source.

Re:VMware still wins. (2, Interesting)

cortana (588495) | more than 5 years ago | (#24410083)

I'll take TUN/TAP over VMware's clusterfuck of an installation script any day.

Many of VirtualBox's error messages could be improved, but they are better than VMware's random freezing or empty dialog boxes.

I think you're a bit crazy to run a 64 bit kernel and 32 bit user space... it doesn't really matter if VirtualBox does or does not support this... Linux itself doesn't!

Free Open Source Toaster (1)

c0d3r (156687) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409797)

In unrelated news, your local thrift shop is offering free open source toasters, although it can only toast 1 slice of bread at a time. I'd imagine with a power strip you can line up several of these toasters to toast more bread at once. Cheers!

VirtualBox and *BSD (2, Informative)

Troy (3118) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409815)

I spent a lot of time trying to get VirtualBox to play nice with FreeBSD. I'm much more familiar with BSD-flavored *nix (esp re: creating jailed environments), so I run a FreeBSD box as a cvs server for the programming classes I teach. I planned on migrating this function to a virtual machine this year. Unfortunately, VirtualBox would go down in flames every time I did a build-world. Web searches availed little.

I tried using OpenBSD instead, but that ended up being worse. The install looked something like


Making devices...
Segmentation Fault
Segmentation Fault
Segmentation Fault ...

I eventually had to migrate my partially-finished FreeBSD disk to VMWare and finish my work there. It's a bit of a bummer, because VirtualBox does appear to have some really neat features, especially for XP guests. Still, I gotta use what meets my needs.

Re:VirtualBox and *BSD (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#24410149)

I eventually had to migrate my partially-finished FreeBSD disk to VMWare and finish my work there.

Regrettably, the virtualisation options/choices for FreeBSD range between poor to none at all, the niftiness of such features as jails, Linux emulation, etc. notwithstanding.

Out of curiousity, what OS did you use on the VMWare host machine?

iphone no workie (1)

pridkett (2666) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409879)

A few months ago I switched from using VMWare Workstation 5 and VMWare Server for virtualization to VirtualBox. This choice was driven by a couple of factors:

1. VMWare's lack of support for newer versions of Ubuntu, requiring downloading some weird patch and hoping it works. It usually did, but still annoying.

2. Licensing issues with VMWare server periodically expiring and taking down my web server virtual machine, which I otherwise would ignore.

I've got to say, I've been pretty impressed with VirtualBox -- it's not quite as feature filled, and getting some of the networking stuff working requires additional steps -- especially for bridged networking, but it seems to work nicely. On average, however, the VirtualBox VM takes a bit more CPU on the host than the VMWare ones.

So, most of the stuff had been good so far, with the exception of audio recording issues in OneNote. That is, until I gained certified status as an enemy of the state in the FSF's eyes and picked up an iPhone 3G. Apparently, there are some weird USB issues with iPhones that make syncing not exactly trivial -- in fact, it doesn't work at all. iTunes doesn't even recognize my phone. From what I've read VMWare player 6 can handle the iPhone. I haven't decided if a once a week reboot to sync my phone is worthy of switching back, but it certainly something that is a downside.

Using it currently (1)

PinchDuck (199974) | more than 5 years ago | (#24410013)

I use it right now, on a Kubuntu host, to run XP. I run VS 2008 and Sql Server 2005 for development. I love it. I get the economic benefits of using windows when necessary, but don't have to put up with windows as my main O.S. Bravo to Sun and InnoTek.

Sun VM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24410113)

You're talking about Sun Java VM, right? I didn't know it was open source now.
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