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Last post Author Topic: which is the best free virtualization software?  (Read 8616 times)

techidave

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which is the best free virtualization software?
« on: March 05, 2011, 04:57:19 PM »
I have been looking at three of the more popular free virtualization programs, VMWare, VirtualBox, VirtualPC 2007.  Since they all appear to have similar features, i was wanting to get some thoughts such as ease of use, features, etc., as I am getting ready to do this on a Windows machine.  At the present moment, I would like to use XP Pro as the default OS and then run Vista, 7, 2000, 98 and maybe 95 too.  The last 3 would be for kicks more than anything else.  I think VirtualBox is the only one that run Linux virtually and that would be an option to run to.

The only experience I have is with VirtualBox on Snow Leopard trying to run Windows XP virtually.  It had some issues that I couldn't figure out so we went out and bought Parallels for Macs and the problems ended.

Some of you are way more experienced than me with this and wondered what your thoughts were.

thanks,
Dave

Stephen66515

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Re: which is the best free virtualization software?
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2011, 05:08:25 PM »
VMWare is possibly the most supported, and definatly the most improved VM around IMHO.

It would be my reccomendation to go with that as you can run pretty much ANY OS in VMWare.

Its simple to use, more features than you will use, and is very very stable.

techidave

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Re: which is the best free virtualization software?
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2011, 05:35:02 PM »
on a slightly different note, is there anything that will allow you to run the Mac OS X on a Windows machine?

Does VMWare's Vcenter converter work like it says it does?  To convert Win7 to a virtual?

Carol Haynes

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Re: which is the best free virtualization software?
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2011, 06:09:57 PM »
There are various Mac VM ports - the problem is getting the source files and other necessary images that aren't for sale. I tried to do this a while ago out of curiosity and in the end I gave up as it was complicated and time consuming to do all the necessary messing about and the results seemed at best flaky.

It has to be said it is also illegal - if you believe Apple's lawyers.

MilesAhead

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Re: which is the best free virtualization software?
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2011, 06:39:05 PM »
Tangentially, you can often get good advice getting the VM set up on W7 from this subforum:

http://www.sevenforu....com/virtualization/

techidave

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Re: which is the best free virtualization software?
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2011, 06:52:05 PM »
That looks like a good sites, Miles.  I just skimmed it a bit and lots of good stuff.

MilesAhead

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Re: which is the best free virtualization software?
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2011, 06:55:00 PM »
That looks like a good sites, Miles.  I just skimmed it a bit and lots of good stuff.

They gave me a couple of pointers to get VirtualBox working on Vista64.
Some good people on there.

f0dder

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Re: which is the best free virtualization software?
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2011, 06:55:29 PM »
Are you saying you want to run XP as your native OS, and virtualize Vista and Win7? If so, I'd have to call this a pretty bad decision. You'll be missing out on the various enhancements introduced with Vista, and further refined in Win7: security, numerous kernel improvements, a nicely revamped graphics subsystem, et cetera. Second, those OSes don't run nearly as well virtualized as on native hardware, because of the hardware acceleration in the graphics subsystem.
- carpe noctem

Carol Haynes

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Re: which is the best free virtualization software?
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2011, 07:20:15 PM »
VirtualBox is a good VM and it is totally free.

Agree 100% with f0dder - run Win 7 native and put XP into VM mode.

If you have a system with Hyper-V or AMD-V support don't forget to enable it in the BIOS (most systems seem to have it disabled by default).

techidave

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Re: which is the best free virtualization software?
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2011, 07:33:37 PM »
Well, XP as the native OS wasn't my first choice, its just that I cannot afford win7 just yet, so I thought I could get a head start on things by installing xp first.

maybe I could go ahead and install xp virtually and then I would have that done already.  Then all I would have to do is load win7 (native) when I get it, then copy my xp file over and I am done!   :)

MilesAhead

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Re: which is the best free virtualization software?
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2011, 09:49:19 PM »
This may be of interest to some.  Although you may run into problems if the original drive letter is different than the partition it's booted as:

http://www.macrium.c...riumImageBackup.aspx


It includes a free beta tool for manipulating the image.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2011, 09:54:32 PM by MilesAhead »

Paul Keith

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Re: which is the best free virtualization software?
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2011, 10:58:50 PM »
Quote
It had some issues that I couldn't figure out so we went out and bought Parallels for Macs and the problems ended.

What were the issues?

Ath

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Re: which is the best free virtualization software?
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2011, 04:40:42 AM »
My opinion:
VirtualPC 2007: Total crap. Superseded by XP-Mode, but still not very good.
VirtualBox: Good, but still has some minor issues on hardware-related (most USB connections) side, and sometimes performance issues.
VMWare: Good, some performance issues, but the best hardware support, and actually good working USB support.
For all virtualized machines: Don't expect any descent graphics performance, compared to the same oS directly on the hardware!

If you want to run a lot of different VM's, get your host on Windows 7 x64 (SP1 strongly advised!) (I see why you want to stay on XP for now, but just upgrade to W7x64 ASAP)  with enough memory (8GB or more), and virtualize all other OS variations.

is there anything that will allow you to run the Mac OS X on a Windows machine?
Apple is not allowing you to do that.

techidave

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Re: which is the best free virtualization software?
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2011, 06:55:19 AM »
Quote
It had some issues that I couldn't figure out so we went out and bought Parallels for Macs and the problems ended.

What were the issues?

The biggest issue was a black screen when using windows powerpoint through a projector.   I checked the virtualbox forums but there was no help.  It seems like other were having this issue (as I remember).  There was a few "fixes" but they didn't work, but don't remember what I tried now.


we had used parallels previously when our macbook was running 10.4 (Tiger), and it was a good experience for us.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2011, 06:57:10 AM by techidave »

Stoic Joker

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Re: which is the best free virtualization software?
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2011, 10:19:04 AM »
Guess I'm the only one using VirtualPC, *Shrug* - It works fine for me -  But I mainly do network & software testing with about 20 different (Windows and Linux) OS. So I couldn't care less about the USB issue.

I also have 2 servers virtualized via Virtual Server, but their track record has been a bit suspect (could just be power issues, could be VS issues... ). :-\

Renegade

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Re: which is the best free virtualization software?
« Reply #15 on: March 06, 2011, 03:52:43 PM »
VirtualPC 2007: Total crap.

I believe that is a few degrees of magnitude beyond being an understatement. :)
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Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

phitsc

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Re: which is the best free virtualization software?
« Reply #16 on: March 07, 2011, 04:14:10 PM »
We are using VirtualPC for Windows CE development and it works very well, while we were struggling to do the same with VMware. So I'd say saying one's better than the other is a bit narrow a view. It just depends what you're using it for.

Running Mac OS X on Windows is possible using VirtualBox. But, as was mentioned already, it's illegal.

f0dder

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Re: which is the best free virtualization software?
« Reply #17 on: March 08, 2011, 01:39:31 AM »
Running Mac OS X on Windows is possible using VirtualBox. But, as was mentioned already, it's illegal.
That's what she said - the bitch-queen Steve Jobs.
- carpe noctem

Renegade

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Re: which is the best free virtualization software?
« Reply #18 on: March 08, 2011, 03:01:27 AM »
Running Mac OS X on Windows is possible using VirtualBox. But, as was mentioned already, it's illegal.
That's what she said - the bitch-queen Steve Jobs.

Funny. I just posted one of the queen's threats...
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

phitsc

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Re: which is the best free virtualization software?
« Reply #19 on: March 08, 2011, 03:21:03 AM »
Running Mac OS X on Windows is possible using VirtualBox. But, as was mentioned already, it's illegal.
That's what she said - the bitch-queen Steve Jobs.

I guess it might be legal to run Mac OS X in VirtualBox running on Mac OS X on Apple Hardware ;)

Renegade

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Re: which is the best free virtualization software?
« Reply #20 on: March 08, 2011, 03:24:43 AM »
Running Mac OS X on Windows is possible using VirtualBox. But, as was mentioned already, it's illegal.
That's what she said - the bitch-queen Steve Jobs.

I guess it might be legal to run Mac OS X in VirtualBox running on Mac OS X on Apple Hardware ;)

Probably if you legally own another copy of the hardware... :P
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Mattphoes

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Re: which is the best free virtualization software?
« Reply #21 on: March 19, 2011, 01:48:41 PM »
My vote for vmware. The snapshots feature is a killer. I happily paid for it. Guys, professional software makers can only make professional software if you support them.

Carol Haynes

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Re: which is the best free virtualization software?
« Reply #22 on: March 19, 2011, 04:10:25 PM »
Probably if you legally own another copy of the hardware... :P

Probably got clauses that you have to send the hardware back to Apple to get it installed/upgraded and then they wipe your data and send back a reconditioned machine.

All those people who do their own installation/updates are probably illegal ... and I bet if you reinstall from clean at any point you probably have to buy a new machine  :-*

steeladept

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Re: which is the best free virtualization software?
« Reply #23 on: March 25, 2011, 06:40:16 AM »
Didn't see this before now, but I really have to say it depends on what you are trying to do with it.  I am a big fan of VMware (Workstation is assumed here - but they have an entire ecosystem ranging from a simple player to a server infrastructure starting at $25K just for the licenses...), but they are definitely industrial strength software for industrial strength use (and a matching industrial strength price!). 

I find VirtualBox is just about as good (yes it does support snapshotting now, and has for about 2 years).  They are about 2 features behind VMware Workstation at any given time and many of those features are not as bulletproof tested as Workstation - but this is another time-tested proof of the statement that you get what you pay for.  If the tradeoff is worth it to you, VirtualBox is an excellent choice.

VirtualPC 2007 is actually quite good - well considering I remember the first iteration and used it extensively as well - but very basic.  If you only have basic needs and the support of Microsoft is considered benefitial to you, this is a very acceptable alternative as well.

Now for the less well known/older options –
  • VMware Player - a good simple VM player.  It doesn't let you create VM's or do much other than use ones others have created.  However, since you typically only need to create it one time and then use it from then on - it can be acceptable in some circumstances.
  • VMware Server - a corollary to Player, it has some nice feature with some significant drawbacks.  Like VMware Player, it is free.  However, unlike Player, you can use it to create VM's.  It runs several services and has limited support for many non-server features (read none), but it can be useful for testing or for creating VM's on older machines.  Otherwise you are much better off using ESXi (free) to do similar tasks.
  • VMware ESXi (free) - this is a "bare metal" hypervisor.  That means you install it before you install any Operating Systems on the hard drive.  In effect it is the host operating system - it is just a very specialized system.  The only real downside to this route that I see is it is not exactly easy to set up and get running and it has some pretty specific hardware requirements that are not easily met.  That said, current new mid-range systems should have little issue.  One caveat - specialized support for certain high end hardware such as graphics cards does not generally exist.
  • Citrix XenServer - A citrix supported partially open-source implementation of Zen.  It is effectively the same as ESXi but has a smaller ecosystem of support around it.  From a technical perspective, this is my favorite in no small part because you can download a complete suite including management console and other pieces for free - up to 10 machines.  It is like getting the paid version of ESX for free with the only stipulation of using no more than 10 machines.  Moreover, if you are looking at Virtual Desktop Infrastructure - you can get the Citrix VDI - management suite, Server Hypervisor, and XenApp (formerly known as Citrix ICA server) all in a single package for free (again, only for up to 10 virtual machines across the entire infrastructure).  It is pretty steep to get to that 11th machine though ;)
  • Parallels Virtuozzo is an entirely different way of thinking about virtualization which is not without merit, but doesn't allow you to load different OS's.  It is a container virtualization scheme.  In other words, you install your OS, then the software, then your programs.  Each program thinks it is the only thing running in the OS because it is "contained" (depending on configuration - of course).  Multiple packages can be contained within a single container as needed as well.
  • Parallels also sells Parallels Desktop, which may be what you referenced, but I don’t know anything about that really other than it is comparable to VMware Fusion which in turn is comparable to a Mac version of VMware Workstation (with a lot of functionality stripped out)

I just noticed how long this got and how quick too, so I will leave it at that.  I consider myself a student of virtualization so I do know a lot of things about a lot of these except how to actually use them ;).  I mean I know how to conceptually, but I don’t have the hardware or the money to actually play around with many of these options to learn the pros and cons first hand.

Virtualization software is a fast moving target, and just because you found the greatest thing for your situation today, doesn’t mean something new that fits even better won’t come out tomorrow (and I mean that quite literally).  With that said, if you can justify to yourself VMware products, they are premiere products for a LOT of good reasons.  The rest are either “Jonny come lately” or “me too” outfits that are still trying to catch VMware.  If you can’t justify their products, then your options open up significantly at the cost of usability/performance/stability/features or some combination thereof.

Hope I didn’t overload you

techidave

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Re: which is the best free virtualization software?
« Reply #24 on: March 25, 2011, 07:35:49 AM »
actually the newer vmware player can create virtual machines.  The following is taken from the vmware player faq page:

What is VMware Player?

    VMware Player is software that enables users to easily create and run virtual machines on a Windows or Linux PC. VMware Player now creates virtual machines in addition to running virtual machines created by VMware Workstation, VMware Fusion, VMware Server, or VMware ESX and supports Microsoft virtual machines and Symantec LiveState Recovery disk formats.