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VirtualBox

I recently dumped VMware Server 1.0.8 in favor of VirtualBox, and so far I haven’t looked back.

As far as my needs go, I just need a virtual instance of Windows to run some applications that WINE cannot emulate. I don’t need extensive server-based features.

Reasons I dumped VMware:

  • The number of hacks required just to get 1.0.8 working on the 2.6 kernel. It will eventually work, but it’s quite unstable.
  • Lack of support for wireless bridging. VMware simply does not support it in the 1.x series. I found a few hacked versions of vmnet.tar (more hacking!) that purportedly would allow this but I could not get them working.
  • I could have upgraded to Server 2.0, which supposedly fixes both of these issues, but I tried it out earlier this year and concluded that the new user interface is one of the worst things ever foisted upon the unsuspecting public.
  • Server 2.0’s horrendous UI aside, the entire product ran so terribly on my hardware that it makes me wonder if the QA team were laid off before the project even started.
  • Inability to easily share files between host and guest.
  • High resource usage. Running it on my laptop would produce a lot of heat and have the fans working overtime.
  • Could never get VMware Tools installed properly on a Ubuntu guest.

Reasons I’m liking VirtualBox:

  • Speed! I could never get Windows XP running competently in a VMware session, so I was forced to use Windows 2000 (less resource usage). Windows XP runs great on my P4 Ubuntu VirtualBox host, given 512 MB of RAM for itself.
  • Support! No more hacks– install it, and it works.
  • Resource usage doesn’t seem to be any better (RAM use actually looks a little worse) but it’s not pegging the CPU at 100% constantly.
  • Wireless bridging works.
  • The ability to name and describe snapshots! Multiple snapshots!

Reasons I’m not liking VirtualBox:

  • Guest additions don’t work properly in Ubuntu without workarounds, and is still crippled beyond that.

Things I haven’t tested:

  • Filesharing. VirtualBox seems to have some functionality that makes it easy but I haven’t figured out how to use it yet.
  • Definitive test of resource usage.

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