09

Nov

2008

VirtualBox 2.0.4 vs Virtual PC 2007 SP1

I’m a big fan of virtualization, possibly because I can not afford a machine for every operating system I want to try. Possibly because I’ve been know to acquire questionable files on the net, and don’t really want any viruses. Maybe I like it because there’s just something cool about running four operating systems on one machine. I don’t know, but I really do like it: just no enough to pay for it.

I’m a big Linux fan, but spend a lot of my time in windows because of driver issues under linux. So, to get the best of both worlds… I run Ubuntu 8.10 in a virtual machine. Prior to yesterday, I was using Microsoft’s Virtual PC 2007. Things were OK, until I found Sun Microsystems’ Virtual Box 2.0.4.

Microsoft who? I’ll never go back to Virtual PC, not for virtual windows boxes – and most assuredly never again for virtual Linux boxes. Here’s why:

Virtual PC 2007 has some virtual resolution issues. You can’t have a virtual PC with more than 1600 x 1200 resolution. That’s annoying when you want to run virtual 1680 x 1050 on your host 1920 x 1200 screen. With VirtualBox, this isn’t an issue. Pick your resolution – and it works. (Well, you do need to add the resolution(s) you want to your xorg.config…)

Virtual PC 2007 can play sound from Ubuntu 8.10, I think, but it doesn’t work out-of-the-box. VirtualBox: enable sound for your virtual Ubuntu machine – and no more configuration is required. It works flawlessly.

Virtual PC 2007 can not run 64bit guest operating systems. That’s a bit of an issue, because if you want to test your 64bit applications on a virtual machine – you’re SOL. VirtualBox can handle 64bit guest operating systems as easily as it can handle any 32bit OS. Just make sure you enable “VT-x/AMD-V” hardware assisted virtualization when you’re setting up your virtual machine.

As if that wasn’t enough. There’s more! VirtualBox has some stellar “Additions”. Once installed, from the VirtualBox virtual machine menu (under devices). You can enjoy seamless mouse integration and clipboard synchronization. You can also share folders between your host and guest. That’s just cool.

To get it working on Ubuntu 8.10 all I had to do was select the option from the menu. Then a virtual CD was mounted. I opened a command prompt and ran:

sudo sh /media/cdrom0/VBoxLinuxAdditions-amd64.run

It works beautifully, even after upgrading the kernel.

I haven’t run any official benchmarks, but everything under VirtulaBox feels MUCH more responsive than it did under Virtual PC 2007.

Try Sun’s VirtualBox 2.0.4 today! You’ll wonder how you ever put up with the shortcomings of Microsoft’s inferior product.