Monday, December 29, 2008

Getting Virtual with VirtualBox

Until recently all of my VM projects had been done in VMWare Server, as this version is available as a free download from VMWare. After upgrading my Linux Box to Ubuntu 8.10 I needed to reload my VM software but I was having some issues getting VMWare server to install correctly. Not wanting to spend a lot of time trying to get the software to work and aware that other options are available I started looking around and found VirtualBox.

VirtualBox is an open source VM software that is available free for download for Windows, Linux, Macintosh and OpenSolaris from Sun Microsystems. The current version is 2.1.0. The VirtualBox website has packages for the following Linux distributions and many packages are available for both i386 and AMD64 architectures.

  • Ubuntu 8.10 ("Intrepid Ibex")
  • Ubuntu 8.04 LTS ("Hardy Heron")
  • Ubuntu 7.10 ("Gutsy Gibbon")
  • Ubuntu 6.06 LTS ("Dapper Drake")
  • Debian 5.0 ("Lenny")
  • Debian 4.0 ("Etch")
  • Debian 3.1 ("Sarge")
  • openSUSE 11.1
  • openSUSE 11.0
  • openSUSE 10.3
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 (SLES10)
  • Fedora 9 ("Sulphur") / 10 ("Cambridge")
  • Fedora 8 ("Werewolf")
  • Fedora 7 ("Moonshine")
  • Mandriva 2008.0
  • Mandriva 2007.1
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 ("RHEL5")
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 ("RHEL4")
  • PCLinuxOS 2007
  • Xandros Desktop 4.1
  • All distributions

As I am using Ubuntu 8.10 I downloaded the i368 deb package and installed it on my system. The install was very straightforward and did not require and special installation steps other than logging off and logging on again to get the program to appear in the Applications -> System Tools menu.

Coming from a VMWare background, getting started with VirtualBox was a snap. Setting up a new virtual machine is done very easily using the provided wizard and has all of the common configuration items. New VMs can be install directly from the ISO image without the need to burn a CD or DVD.

Virtualization is a great way to test out new Linux versions or to learn the internal workings of a Linux distro without reloading your primary machine. If you are interested in getting into virtualization at home and are looking for a good open source solution, VirtualBox may be the way to go.

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