Today, Sun released VirtualBox 2.0, a major revision to the (partially open source) desktop virtualization software. I have long used VirtualBox on my Windows machines as my virtualization product of choice due to its compactness, functionality, and low impact on the host system. Although I’m happy with VMware Fusion on the Mac, I intend to try out VirtualBox there, too, to see how it compares.
If you haven’t already tried VirtualBox, you ought to. It works very well, virtualizing Windows and Linux guests on Windows, Linux, Solaris, and Mac hosts with respectable performance. One thing I really love about it is that it doesn’t bog down my Vista system like VMware with installed drivers and services. It just installs and works and gets out of the way when you’re not using it.
VirtualBox supports shared folders, USB, and has guest additions for Windows and Linux to provide resolution independence and performance boosts. The new 2.0 version adds 64-bit guest OS support for 64-bit hosts along with performance and stability fixes. The Mac version now has a native look and feel and better networking, too.
One really interesting twist for folks interested in desktop virtualization (aka VDI on VMware) is integration with remote desktop protocol (RDP). VirtualBox guests can be configured to act as RDP servers, with thin(ish) clients accessing them over a network and even sharing their USB devices seamlessly. I’m getting pretty excited about the desktop virtualization concept – I’ll be keeping my eyes on companies like stealthy Old Road Computing Virtual Computer to see what they’re up to!
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