VirtualBox 2.1.0

Monday, 2009-January-12 at 16:32

Some time ago, I tried out VirtualBox. Among the issues I noted was that it was difficult to use an alternate location for your virtual machines, an inability to break virtual disks into subfiles (like VMWare does), and a lack of options for configuring networking. I quickly abandoned it, returning to VMWare’s VMWare Server. I should point out that I noticed right away that virtual machine guest operating sytems ran faster and used less RAM under VirtualBox than they did under VMWare. But I really wanted to have the virtual machines hosted on an external hard drive, so that my laptop wasn’t filled with the files.

I was letting Synaptic handle updating the kernel modules (needed for speeding up VMWare and integrating the VM guest operating system with your host operating system), and found that the kernel module updates stopped. In early December, I decided to remove VMWare Server and give VirtualBox another try.

VirtualBox OSE 2.0 was in the Ubuntu repositories, so I installed it. I was pleasantly surprised. In addition to being quick and responsive, VBox also had an option for selecting where the default location of virtual machines should be. The only problem I still had was that I occasionally wanted to start up a Web server and view the output across the network. As I was going through the VBox site, looking for information, I found that version 2.1.0 was out–and it had the capability I desired.

I have been using VirtualBox version 2.1.0 for a couple of weeks now. It is a great addition to my toolset. Best of all, Ubuntu installs a tool from Dell that automatically re-compiles the kernel module to match the version of an updated Linux kernel. No more waiting for someone to re-compile the kernel module and upload it to the repository.

VMWare has a VM Marketplace site, where various VMs with guest operating systems can be downloaded. I used to use that to obtain up-to-date versions of various systems. There is an unofficial site for VirtualBox, which is also a source for various VMs with preinstalled guest operating systems can be downloaded. In either case, the operating system’s licensing decides whether it can be made available and under what terms. I can see that Fedora 10 is available, which should be a big improvement over the F7 VM I have been using–ever try to compile PHP with OpenSSL and get messages about being unable to find/open evp.h? I’m thinking it is a version mismatch.

I heartily recommend VirtualBox 2.1.0. If this is an indication of the new Sun Microsystems, I think the doomsayers are in for a surprise.

Entry filed under: virtual machines, VirtualBox, VMWare.

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