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Linux Kernel Developer Declares VirtualBox Driver "Crap"

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the not-all-code-is-created-equal dept.

Bug 357

An anonymous reader writes "Linux kernel developers have decided to mark the VirtualBox kernel driver as tainted crap for the significant number of problems this open-source driver has caused. The VirtualBox kernel driver reportedly causes memory corruption and other problems. With the driver being flagged as tainted crap, bug reports caused by the driver will be taken less seriously."

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357 comments

I declare it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37682848)

awesome

Can that tag ... (3, Funny)

yelvington (8169) | more than 2 years ago | (#37682854)

Can that tag be applied to users, too?

Re:Can that tag ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683010)

probably, it can be applied to your mom ;o)

Re:Can that tag ... (2, Insightful)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683016)

My intro CS prof always told us that "The first rule of programming is.... the user is an idiot."

And so far that rule has served me well. :)

Re:Can that tag ... (4, Insightful)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683202)

The second rule is that the programmer is an idiot, especially if they don't believe in the second rule.

Re:Can that tag ... (3, Informative)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683486)

Sort of. The second rule was "You aren't nearly as clever as you think you are." Implying that you should always be trying to use tools/libraries/examples/asking_for_help rather than writing everything on your own in the dark. Because the alternative to following this rule was a fun little acronym my prof liked to use: "BFAI" - Brute Force And Ignorance. "You can solve anything with BFAI! But it's probably going to suck. Others will laugh at you."

I like that rule too. :)

Re:Can that tag ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683476)

More often than not so is the developer. I have been a developer, architect type, and manager of developers. Users are stupid and developers/engineers are even stupider. The user wants the computer to act like a human and read their intent, the engineer wants the user to act like a computer and appreciate efficiency even if it is totally unusable. For the love of all that is good in the world, separate the two groups with a decent designer type who is willing to lie to both sides to make it all work. ;P

Re:Can that tag ... (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683026)

That's an interesting sentiment and I kind of agree. But you know? I have had some serious problems with VirtualBox and USB devices until recently. When I removed a USB device, whether connected to a VM or not, it would cause the whole computer to lock up hard.

Since 4.1.4, however, it seems okay again. I guess the problem was addressed.

But one problem that continues is performance. I can only run ONE guest OS at a time. If I want to create another guest OS, I have to stop the first one. Interestingly, while the performance of the second one drops to crap, the first OS runs just fine. The first OS is WinXP .... I wonder if there is special code in there for XP though. Been thinking of making a new VM using Windows 7 instead of XP. Anyone have experience with this? Normally, I use VBox for the occasional need to run Windows... or when I am at work, I have to run Windows, so I keep it in a VM as well. Running a single VM is just fine in those cases... but the rare time when I need another VM running...?

Also, I have to disagree with the calling it "tainted crap." That's just unfair and unprofessional. If they fixed everything "next week," today's kernels will still call it crap. That's an improper form of judgement.

Re:Can that tag ... (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683156)

I used to run 2 XP VMs on the same machine without problem (Ubuntu host). That machine doesn't have the latest VB on it though, probably still on 3.something.

Re:Can that tag ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683328)

There's bound to be problems that show up
as Larry slowly tries to slip his hand in your wallet/pocket.

the drivers are closed source now.

jr

Re:Can that tag ... (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683524)

But one problem that continues is performance. I can only run ONE guest OS at a time. If I want to create another guest OS, I have to stop the first one. Interestingly, while the performance of the second one drops to crap, the first OS runs just fine.

I've run four instances of Linux VMs at the same time without issue. Underlying host was a dual-core, 8GB (DDR2) machine.

Re:Can that tag ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683586)

I've had computer lock at usb remove during several months, but it had nothiing to do with vbox, it was a linux kernel (2.6.32.33) issue solved with 2.6.32.34.
I have no problem running any kind of guest (XP, seven, 2k, other 'nux) on my ubuntu lucid 64 host. I agree I'm short on memory to run 2 guests at a time, but that's only due to a lack of ram

And? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37682910)

What's this VirtualBox thing that you speak of? Since 99% of desktop run either Windows and/or Mac OS X, a very tiny explanation of the topic would probably help a lot.

Re:And? (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#37682960)

Most people here are familiar with VirtualBox... regardless of whether they run it on Windows, Mac, Linux, Solaris or your mom. For all others, there's www.virtualbox.org

Re:And? (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 2 years ago | (#37682974)

Considering that it is also on Windows AND Mac OSX, and is free, and is literally only a Google away, I don't feel the need to explain it to you what it does.

(Hint, the name "Virtual" is a huge giveaway)

Re:And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683076)

Sorry, but here is a concise explanation that I think you will find helpful. Couldn't put it in the summery now, but you should get the idea.
http://lmgtfy.com/?q=virtualbox&l=1 [lmgtfy.com]

Slashdot Readers Declare Articles "Crap" (5, Funny)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 2 years ago | (#37682916)

An anonymous coward writes

"Slashdot readers have decided to label recent articles as tainted crap [slashdot.org] for significant journalistic flaws. These articles reportedly lack substance, appear to be written by a child, and have other problems. With Slashdot articles being flagged as tainted crap, they will be taken less seriously by their readers."

Re:Slashdot Readers Declare Articles "Crap" (4, Informative)

sstamps (39313) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683114)

It is not possible for /. articles to be taken less seriously.

Re:Slashdot Readers Declare Articles "Crap" (1)

hduff (570443) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683154)

It is not possible for /. articles to be taken less seriously.

They could be re-posted on 4chan.

Re:Slashdot Readers Declare Articles "Crap" (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683134)

This article was apparently tainted. I added crap to the list of tags so now it is tainted crap.

They have access to the source... (4, Insightful)

emag (4640) | more than 2 years ago | (#37682924)

...so instead of just complaining, they could fix it and offer the patch back to Oracle.

I do believe that people who complain about problems in the Linux kernel and other open source products are often told to do just that. Why expect others to do as you say, if you won't do the same?

Re:They have access to the source... (0)

HFShadow (530449) | more than 2 years ago | (#37682944)

Because they have better things to work on than someone else's code? It's not their problem, they don't care about virtualbox and rightly so.

Re:They have access to the source... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683046)

That's exactly my attitude towards every Linux desktop distro I've tried. (Whereas the Linux servers I've used had no significant flaws, so I have nothing to worry about or contribute there.)

Re:They have access to the source... (4, Insightful)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683186)

You do understand you are making his point for him, right?

So, explain again why users should use FLOSS instead closed-source when they have "better things to work on than someone else's code" and can buy something that works?

They shouldn't. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683242)

So, explain again why users should use FLOSS instead closed-source when they have "better things to work on than someone else's code" and can buy something that works?

If the free (like speech) system does not work for that person / company then there is no reason for them to use it.

If, as you postulate, there is a closed source system "that works" then they may want to use that.

UNLESS they want to avoid any of the OTHER problems with closed source software.

Re:They shouldn't. (1, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683336)

I'm not sure what other problems people are going to be concerned about with closed source software that is of a higher priority than 'it doesn't fucking work'.

I don't care how 'open' something is, if its broken, its not going to be something I use and its value is 0 if it doesn't do what I want.

You can make the argument you're making with features and feature sets, it becomes a really fucking stupid argument however when you're trying to say 'well just because this OSS software doesn't do what you want, it still is useful because you have the source ... to something that doesn't do what you want'.

So what would I want to avoid more than 'it doesn't work' that OSS offers me?

Re:They shouldn't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683522)

How about "it doesn't do what I want/has bugs/is missing features and the company that made it doesn't give a shit or doesn't support it anymore"?

Re:They shouldn't. (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683378)

Yet, many FLOSSers repeatedly crow about how wonderful FLOSS is because the source is available, state that people should ONLY use FLOSS, berate people who don't use FLOSS, and say "If you don't like it, fix it" which assumes that people don't have better things to do than fix someone else's code.

Re:They have access to the source... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683358)

Bingo! This is my biggest single gripe with FLOSS developers/projects in the nearly 15+ years I've used such software. The arrogance of developers to say, "It's open source -- go fix it yourself" is just astonishing, and they don't begin to see the problem. In fact, I saw an exchange exactly like this regarding a very popular e-book reader/conversion program. Some user asked why the top and bottom page margin settings were ignored when converting to PDF format, and the response was that no one cares about PDF format, and the person should grab the source and fix it himself.

The bottom line is that when developers say that they know there's almost zero chance the person will actually do it and fork the project. It's nothing more than a euphemism for, "Go the fuck away and let me play with my toy."

Re:They have access to the source... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683118)

Oh, that's handy! So if I want a driver for my new shiny piece of hardware, I can just submit an open source stub which crashes and does not work, and then the Linux developers will fix it for free for me?

Re:They have access to the source... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683160)

Why expect others to do as you say, if you won't do the same?

The first "you" in that sentence refers to people who say "if you don't like it, fix it". The second "you" refers to the kernel developers who declared the module tainted. These are probably not the same people.

Re:They have access to the source... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683176)

> ...so instead of just complaining, they could fix it and offer the patch back to Oracle.

I am sure "they" would fix it if "they" would use or need it.

That is how open source works and has always worked.

Re:They have access to the source... (5, Insightful)

Jonner (189691) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683324)

...so instead of just complaining, they could fix it and offer the patch back to Oracle.

I do believe that people who complain about problems in the Linux kernel and other open source products are often told to do just that. Why expect others to do as you say, if you won't do the same?

I think you have it exactly backward. It's reasonable to tell someone to fix something himself if he wants it fixed. The people marking the Virtualbox driver as "crap" probably have no interest in using it themselves. The reason for the tag is to avoid being bothered by other people who want it fixed. Now, the Linux developers who don't care about the driver can more easily tell people who do want it fixed to do so themselves or bitch to Oracle, which seems entirely reasonable.

Re:They have access to the source... (2)

c++0xFF (1758032) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683410)

I think that by declaring the VirtualBox driver to be "tainted crap" they've basically said that it's not worth fixing, or at least that fixing it right would be a large undertaking.

If you're willing to put in the time, I'm sure everybody involved would be grateful ... just don't expect it to be a quick fix.

So fix it! (3, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#37682926)

VirtualBox is open source. Instead of name-calling and whining, how about fixing the underlying problem?

Re:So fix it! (4, Insightful)

microbee (682094) | more than 2 years ago | (#37682958)

The driver is not in the linux kernel tree and distributed separately. So name calling is quite appropriate.

Re:So fix it! (3, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683022)

But since the driver is open and distributed under the GPL, perhaps someone should fix it up and integrate it into the kernel, the less third party drivers you need to build and install the better - in kernel drivers always seem more stable and are a lot less hassle to deal with.

Re:So fix it! (3, Insightful)

Moxon (139555) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683084)

Sounds like a good idea. Would you like to work on this?

Re:So fix it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683384)

No, because the people who whine about it won't, so why should I?

For ages it has been "Use the source, Luke", and now suddenly it's OK to whine, but only if you're a kernel dev?

Re:So fix it! (2)

aztektum (170569) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683234)

Perhaps Oracle or users who are impacted should do it? The kernel devs would be foolish to accept every janky piece of shit code and take on the task of fixing it.

Do it for a company with the deep pockets, like Oracle, and you'll have everyone else saying "WTF You did it for them and they can afford to fix it themselves!"

If this bites a user in the ass, let them fix it. If it bites Oracle, let them fix it.

Re:So fix it! (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683200)

And, every bit of FLOSS is not in my software tree and distributed separately. So, why should I fix the bug the developers think is so low priority?

Re:So fix it! (3, Interesting)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683166)

VirtualBox is open source. Instead of name-calling and whining, how about fixing the underlying problem?

Parts of VirtualBox are open source. If you want to network boot your VM by PXE, you need to pony up the cash for the closed source version maintained by Oracle. The open source version supposedly supports PXE boot, but I was never able to make that version work with our environment.

As with MySQL, open source contributions to dual licensed software are not frequent nor great. With someone like Oracle at the helm, community cooperation with their free and open version is even further diminished.

Re:So fix it! (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683348)

Or use a PXE boot disk. Not arguing with your point, just adding a work around for your point.

Re:So fix it! (1)

MinistryOfTruthiness (1396923) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683490)

Oddly enough, I just did this about an hour ago. It wouldn't PXE (boot media not found or some crap), but if I generated an etherboot iso image from rom-o-matic.net and set that up in the virtual CDROM drive, it boots up just fine.

Now if I could just get it to give me something other than 4:3 ratio resolutions in the guest, I would be a happy camper. I want 1900x1200, dammit, not 1600x1200!

(For a bit of context -- Using VBox as a PXE-booted LTSP workstation client on my Mac. Works pretty well, after a significant amount of tinkering.)

uugh. overblown story (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37682928)

One of the developers wanted to flag the vbox driver as tainted to keep bug submissions on it from going to kernel devs.

this is *way* overblown.

Re:uugh. overblown story (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37682998)

I love how the submitted title was exactly that, and the editors decided it wasn't sensational enough

Re:uugh. overblown story (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683240)

Yeah, I have to agree, seems like some one has a grudge against virtbox. A tired, but neverther the less true response; "Works for me."

Good job, wants some cheese for your whine? (3, Interesting)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#37682930)

Really, you should just refuse to provide any help or consideration for people using virtual box like you guys do if anyone is using a binary driver. I mean lets face it, thats what you're doing here. This is just another form of NIH syndrome.

As a developer, I understand the frustration of dealing with someone elses shitty software that you have absolutely no control over.

This however is one of those situations where there is no doubt what so ever that rather than just whining about it, he could have done something useful about it. The drivers aren't THAT complex in the first place. If he is so confident that it has these problems then surely he has documented when they occur as proof, which means fixing them should be fairly trivial as well.

Instead of being so high and mighty ... oh never mind, whats the point, its not your fault, its someone elses, your code is awesome and everyone will bow down to you guys. I know you guys like to think Linux is ruling the world, but you're still no where near big enough to start trying to pull an Apple/Google/Microsoft and force people to do it your way. You've tried this before and again, you'll lose.

Re:Good job, wants some cheese for your whine? (2)

PatDev (1344467) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683168)

As a developer, I understand the frustration of dealing with someone elses shitty software that you have absolutely no control over..... has documented when they occur as proof, which means fixing them should be fairly trivial as well.

If you truly believe that just having a large collection of triggers to a bug is all that is required to render fixing that bug "fairly trivial", then I sincerely hope I never find myself on the same dev team as you.

Denying support for binary-blob drivers is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. The kernel developers have finite time for support. If they choose to spend their time on investigating issues where they are not blocked by arbitrary restrictions on the tools they need to do their job, then fine. After all, given the great difficulty of debugging without source (which you, as a developer, surely understand), I find it quite feasible that in the time they could fix one bug caused by an external binary-blob driver they could probably fix 10 others.

Remember, this isn't a case of somebody just whining instead of doing something useful. This is a comment by somebody who is not doing this useful thing *because they are busy doing other useful things*.

Re:Good job, wants some cheese for your whine? (1)

lakeland (218447) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683330)

This isn't a binary blob driver. It is an Oracle-maintained open-source driver.

Re:Good job, wants some cheese for your whine? (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683170)

Instead of being so high and mighty ... oh never mind, whats the point, its not your fault, its someone elses, your code is awesome and everyone will bow down to you guys. I know you guys like to think Linux is ruling the world, but you're still no where near big enough to start trying to pull an Apple/Google/Microsoft and force people to do it your way. You've tried this before and again, you'll lose.

Um, did you even read the article?

Someone released a driver for Virtual Box, said driver causes instability and crashes.

Do you think it's the job of the Linux Kernel devs to re-tool the kernel to work around this, or do you think it's just easier to push it back to the people who wrote the driver?

I mean, seriously, from TFA:

Even though this VirtualBox driver is open-source (it's under the GPL), the quality of the driver is quite poor and continues to cause issues for many users. In particular, kernel developers have become frustrated that this virtualization driver is causing random memory corruption. Specifically cited is "corrupt linked lists, corrupt page tables, and just plain 'weird' crashes."

The code comment for the patch mentions, "vbox is garbage." The VirtualBox kernel driver is needed for providing some features to guests on this Sun/Oracle virtualization platform. While the VirtualBox kernel driver is open-source, it doesn't live within the mainline kernel tree and is distributed separately with the VirtualBox software package.

So, if you start off with a working, stable kernel, apply this patch, and then end up with a broken, flaky kernel ... what is the conclusion other than the driver is crap?

I'm not a Linux kernel developer ... but I have had someone try to write some badly written code on top of some systems I supported, only to have them come back and start filing large amounts of bug reports ... and by the time you waste your own time to realize this has nothing to do with your own code, it's too late. Hell, I even had one occasion where someone ignored the explicit statement that it wasn't thread safe, and definitely didn't implement transactions ... only to submit a bug report whining that the transactions didn't work like he wished them to. Of course it didn't, it said right up front it didn't and never would ... but he figured if he just pretended that it did, he'd be able to force us to make it do so. How was that my fault?

If this module is leading to support issues, I can see why they'd draw the line and say "not our fault or problem".

If I wrote crappy code for a Windows app, do you think Microsoft would be willing to listen to me submitting bug reports in Windows if it was becoming readily apparent that the problem wasn't in their code? Because, that's really what this is about from the sounds of it.

I mean, really, Oracle throws poor code over the fence into production and makes the user be the beta tester ... that's not exactly new. Anyone ever seen Beehive? [oracle.com] When I first saw it, it was a freshly steaming turd. No idea what it's like now, but at the time it was largely broken.

I don't see this so much about NIH as "WTF makes this my problem".

Re:Good job, wants some cheese for your whine? (5, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683412)

Actually, MS did have those reports, probably 90% of BSOD's over the years were caused by third party drivers. MS moved large chunks of the driver infrastructure into user space and for those areas where performance was deemed more important than isolating the drivers and kernel they implemented a more robust WHQL process and required drivers to be signed after WHQL testing was completed. This probably reduced the number of BSOD's experienced by 85% or so.

Re:Good job, wants some cheese for your whine? (1)

hduff (570443) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683216)

This however is one of those situations where there is no doubt what so ever that rather than just whining about it, he could have done something useful about it. The drivers aren't THAT complex in the first place. If he is so confident that it has these problems then surely he has documented when they occur as proof, which means fixing them should be fairly trivial as well.

So the kernel devs get bug reports for the VirtualBox driver?

Just forward the bug reports upstream to the VirtualBox devs. How hard is it to write a script to do that?

And if they don't get bug reports, how will they know their stuff is broken?

A little cooperation goes a long way.

Re:Good job, wants some cheese for your whine? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683232)

> Instead of being so high and might

Are we really talking about the same developer who said:

"The number of bug reports we get from people with virtualbox loaded are
truly astonishing. It's GPL, but sadly that doesn't mean it's good.
Nearly all of these bugs look like random corruption. (corrupt linked lists,
corrupt page tables, and just plain 'weird' crashes).

This diff adds tainting to the module loader to treat it as we do with stuff
from staging/ (crap). With this tainting in place, automatic bug filing tools
can opt out of automatically filing kernel bugs, and inform the user to file
bugs somewhere more appropriate."

https://lkml.org/lkml/2011/10/6/317 [lkml.org]

Re:Good job, wants some cheese for your whine? (1)

RocketRabbit (830691) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683374)

The problem is that Linux will not settle on a stable ABI. The Linux driver model is tainted crap.

Re:Good job, wants some cheese for your whine? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683414)

The problem is that Linux will not settle on a stable ABI.

The great thing about the Linux kernel is that it's not tied to a crusty old ABI which it has to support to stop people complaining when their old drivers no longer work. Instead it can throw out old crap when someone comes up with a better design.

Re:Good job, wants some cheese for your whine? (2)

RocketRabbit (830691) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683506)

That's not great. It's short sighted and causes considerable headaches for people with older devices.

If they'd sit down for a week and decide on a proper model, they wouldn't have to redesign it EVER. Solaris has kept the same ABI since the beginning, and pretty much every benchmark out there shows it equal to (sometimes slightly ahead, sometimes slightly behind) Linux on the same hardware.

The real reason that the Linux dictators decided not to settle on an ABI is so they can try to pressure and force manufacturers to release their drivers as GPL software. This sounds good, and I'm sure their intentions are mostly pure, but many drivers will never be open sourced for various reasons, and so really the end result is shitty 3D acceleration and other bullshit poo-butt problems that would not exist if they would settle down on a driver model.

Re:Good job, wants some cheese for your whine? (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683548)

The real reason that the Linux dictators decided not to settle on an ABI is so they can try to pressure and force manufacturers to release their drivers as GPL software.

The Linux community has been practically gleeful to get binary blob drivers.

The *BSD community is the one complaining about not getting source.

Re:Good job, wants some cheese for your whine? (3, Informative)

Jonner (189691) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683430)

Really, you should just refuse to provide any help or consideration for people using virtual box like you guys do if anyone is using a binary driver. I mean lets face it, thats what you're doing here. This is just another form of NIH syndrome.

As a developer, I understand the frustration of dealing with someone elses shitty software that you have absolutely no control over.

This however is one of those situations where there is no doubt what so ever that rather than just whining about it, he could have done something useful about it. The drivers aren't THAT complex in the first place. If he is so confident that it has these problems then surely he has documented when they occur as proof, which means fixing them should be fairly trivial as well.

Instead of being so high and mighty ... oh never mind, whats the point, its not your fault, its someone elses, your code is awesome and everyone will bow down to you guys. I know you guys like to think Linux is ruling the world, but you're still no where near big enough to start trying to pull an Apple/Google/Microsoft and force people to do it your way. You've tried this before and again, you'll lose.

If you're so sure that fixing the buggy driver is easy and a more reasonable approach, why don't you do it? Linux already has two major alternatives to VirtualBox built in (KVM and Xen). It doesn't terribly need Virtualbox, but if Oracle made the effort to improve the quality, I'm sure it could be accepted into the mainline. The reason for tagging the driver as "crap" is because it apparently causes ongoing, hard to diagnose bugs and some Linux developers are tired of dealing with them when they can use the superior built-in options like KVM and virtio. It's not reasonable to expect developers to maintain something they have no interest in themselves and aren't being paid for.

We need more crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37682936)

If only the Linux kernel could declare more code crap, perhaps they could improve the kernel. This appears to be searching for gold in poo. I understand people do this, but can't we choose to refactor gradually with better kernel security/permissions. They already have thrown out older graphics cards from the kernel, so now they seem to be removing newer code they find annoying too.

Oh the irony! (2)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37682972)

An open-source developer calls an open-source driver "tainted crap", and recommend a commercial alternative instead. Obviously, Oracle has something to do with that, but I'm a bit curious: are there any good open-source (or even free) virtualization software, aside from VirtualBox? Or might it be an area where FOSS just doesn't work very well (there are a few, IMHO).

Re:Oh the irony! (1)

piripiri (1476949) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683070)

QEMU [qemu.org] comes in mind. Oh, there a nice comparison chart [wikipedia.org] at Wikipedia.

Re:Oh the irony! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683198)

QEMU is NOT a virtual machine like Virtualbox or VMWare. It's an emulator. It does not do the same thing or serve the same purpose.

Re:Oh the irony! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683422)

Actually it's both. It started off as an x86 emulator (particularly handy for running non-native code on other platforms) but now has a hardware virtualisation mode. It's more commonly found as part of the KVM virtualization toolkit.

And in response to the grandparent - KVM, Xen and it's proprietary re-package Xenserver are used extensively, particularly by cloud services providers. (or "hosting companies" as I like to call them!). Of course, these are a bit heavy-duty for desktop virtualization, which is why VBox still sees a lot of use, crappy drivers or otherwise.

Re:Oh the irony! (1)

Vanders (110092) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683556)

Qemu is both an emulator and a virtualization platform, depending on the host & guest CPU you are running and the options you compile and invoke it with:

When used as a machine emulator, QEMU can run OSes and programs made for one machine (e.g. an ARM board) on a different machine (e.g. your own PC). By using dynamic translation, it achieves very good performance.

When used as a virtualizer, QEMU achieves near native performances by executing the guest code directly on the host CPU. QEMU supports virtualization when executing under the Xen hypervisor or using the KVM kernel module in Linux. When using KVM, QEMU can virtualize x86, server and embedded PowerPC, and S390 guests.

Re:Oh the irony! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683110)

KVM. It is in the kernel and it works great. Xen is also good. This is an area FOSS rules, as opposed to does not work well in.

Re:Oh the irony! (2)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683404)

KVM is pretty comparable (well, if you have virtualization hardware extensions - on older CPUs it doesn't work unlike Virtualbox). I wouldn't call Xen comparable - it doesn't run unmodified guests. For running linux on linux it works fine, but if you don't have the OS source or a Xen-compatible guest OS you're not going to be able to use it.

Of course, if you are running linux on linux and don't mind messing around with it something like linux containers probably would be more efficient.

Re:Oh the irony! (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683574)

Forgive my ignorance, but I thought both KVM and Xen were "Take over the whole box" kinds of VM. You install KVM or Xen as the host OS, then can create whatever guests you want. Virtualbox and VMware (at least the Player and Workstation), by contrast, are applications. You run the application on top of your host OS and create VMs in that.

I could be completely wrong.

Re:Oh the irony! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683204)

Short answer: no

QEMU? Slow. It and anything that uses it runs piss poor if you actually compare it to the other options.

KVM? Poor Windows support

Xen? Poor Windows support

Blahblahwhatever? Poor Windows support

VMware? Best of the best as long as you don't want to run one VM with multiple monitors (VirtualBox works way better in that situation). Plus most of it is not open-source (the kernel stuff is though).

Basically VMware and VirtualBox are all there is for running Windows on Linux hosts. VMware is better but like I said its multi-monitor support totally sucks.

Re:Oh the irony! (2)

ulzeraj (1009869) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683332)

I have no problems running Windows 2003 HVMs on a "pure" Xen setup. They even have GPL PV drivers.

Re:Oh the irony! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683226)

Proxmox works well, too.

Re:Oh the irony! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683360)

KVM is already in the kernel and high quality. Ignoring the fact that KVM is the clear future of Linux virtualization, do you know who Dave Jones is? He has much more important things to do than fix a driver no one has bothered to get merged.

Re:Oh the irony! (1)

Jonner (189691) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683458)

An open-source developer calls an open-source driver "tainted crap", and recommend a commercial alternative instead. Obviously, Oracle has something to do with that, but I'm a bit curious: are there any good open-source (or even free) virtualization software, aside from VirtualBox? Or might it be an area where FOSS just doesn't work very well (there are a few, IMHO).

It's the Phoronix article that mentions VMWare, not the "Linux developers." Oddly that article doesn't mention the two superior, mature alternatives to Virtualbox already part of mainline Linux, KVM and Xen. So, Free Software virtualization is doing just fine, thank you very much.

Good idea (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 2 years ago | (#37682982)

Better to be strict, a badly written kernel module in an hypervisor is a security nightmare. Also oracle doesn't seem very idealistic about FOSS and even shows little lip service to it, so I think that simply waiting for them to fix stuff would not have worked so much.

Host or guest? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683042)

Does this affect installations where VirtualBox is run on a Linux host? Or does it affect installations where Linux is run as a VirtualBox guest? Also, is the driver in question part of the kernel, or is it part of VirtualBox?

Re:Host or guest? (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683082)

The driver is part of VirtualBox (you'll get a notification that it needs to be recompiled on launching VirtualBox after every kernel upgrade) and it affects installations where Linux is the host. That said I've had it in for years and haven't had any problems.

Re:Host or guest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683318)

If you install dkms and then install the VirtualBox drivers, the modules get automatically rebuilt and sorted out after updates.

Re:Host or guest? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683362)

Ghosti-potis or ghostis ? (PIE)
Hostis or hospes ? (latin)

Crap? (2, Insightful)

spagthorpe (111133) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683044)

I used vbox for several straight months doing quite a bit of Linux development using it, hosted on a Win7 machine. Other than missing a few nice to have features I could have used, like drag and drop that VMware has, I had zero issues with it. A lot of the features VMware has I didn't need, so stuck with what was working. The "crap" drivers made the VM as seemless as possible for me, and in full screen mode, was no different than booting into Ubuntu in classic mode (which is what I prefer anyway).

I'd really like to know how many people are genuinely affected by these issues. I can't imagine I'm the only one that had zero issues.

Re:Crap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683364)

I used vbox for several straight months doing quite a bit of Linux development using it, hosted on a Win7 machine.

It's unclear from the crappy summery, but I believe these are the Linux host drivers. I've had no problems with them.

Re:Crap? (2)

Jonner (189691) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683566)

I used vbox for several straight months doing quite a bit of Linux development using it, hosted on a Win7 machine. Other than missing a few nice to have features I could have used, like drag and drop that VMware has, I had zero issues with it. A lot of the features VMware has I didn't need, so stuck with what was working. The "crap" drivers made the VM as seemless as possible for me, and in full screen mode, was no different than booting into Ubuntu in classic mode (which is what I prefer anyway).

I'd really like to know how many people are genuinely affected by these issues. I can't imagine I'm the only one that had zero issues.

The driver in question "vboxdrv" is used on a Linux host, so you never used it running Vbox hosted on Windows. The drivers you're referring to are the guest drivers, which are totally different. Your experience may indicate that the Windows equivalent of vboxdrv is less buggy. It's not surprising if Sun/Oracle put a higher priority on Windows than Linux.

It's not necessarily their place to fix it. (1)

nblender (741424) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683088)

The standard refrain of "it's FOSS! If you don't like it, fix it!" is retarded. As a long time FOSS developer, I have my own projects that use up my free time. Projects that I want to work on and contribute my own way. I don't have time to fix other code that, while qualified to fix it, is not related to my project... Sometimes you can look at another piece of code and say "this is crap, someone needs to fix this"...

For example, there are parts of mythtv that suck ass.. I've submitted a few bug reports, a few of them have been fixed.. I've even submitted a patch that I outlined as completely wrong but submitted as an illustration that it worked around a specific problem for me... But I don't have time to do the rewrite the subsystem in question... I don't want to hack mythtv; I just want to watch TV after I'm done hacking for the day. Does that mean I should shut up and not point out deficiencies in hopes that someone will fix them?

Re:It's not necessarily their place to fix it. (1)

hduff (570443) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683376)

Does that mean I should shut up and not point out deficiencies in hopes that someone will fix them?

- If you don't use the software, we'll never know if it really works at all.

  - If you don't submit bug reports, they may never know it's broken.

  - If you can contribute code or a suggestion as to what the problem is or what a fix might be, that's even better.

  - If it's critical for you and so you have developed a fix and are willing to share, that's better still.

The beauty of FOSS is that you have a wide range of opportunities to participate in making the code better from being an enthusiastic user to becoming a member of the dev team. While I am not a coder, I am a technical writer and have contributed to the documentation of several FOSS projects, I have submitted bug reports and have supported some projects with cash donations.

The beauty of the freedom of speech is that you can bitch and complain about anything you want and the rest of us are free to ignore you as we see fit.

Seen no problems under *bsd, Windows or Mac OS X (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683304)

Just a thought, since this happens under Linux only, could the cause be on the other side, perhaps?

Re:Seen no problems under *bsd, Windows or Mac OS (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683398)

I was thinking about making some snide remark about that being the case.
Except for the fact that the driver is custom written for the OS.

Typical phoronix bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37683424)

Forgetting arguments about who should fix it, the irony is that the "oh so much better" vmware will of course still taint your kernel, since it needs a partially proprietary module.. God, fuck all these lame sites.

About the TAINT_CRAP... it is convenience for kernel developers and is applied to drivers in the kernel source itself, the ones in the staging directory..

VirtualBox/VMWare on linux is getting obsolete (1)

maestroX (1061960) | more than 2 years ago | (#37683516)

I've been using Vbox on windows and macosx without problems (before that VMWare and Parallels).
On linux, vbox is a hassle. It's easier and faster to use KVM, qemu (no USB though :(( ) or, for linux only, OpenVZ.
On windows, I'd reconsider. But I don't need IE6 anymore, nor Windows.
my $.02
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