Desktop Virtualisation Today September 23, 2008Posted by vruz in Uncategorized.
Tags: GNU/Linux, hardy heron, photoshop, Ubuntu, VirtualBox, Virtualisation, Virtualization, xvm
VMware is in serious trouble. (have a look at the screenshot)
It’s the latest release of Sun xVM VirtualBox 2.0.2 running on my Ubuntu Hardy Desktop edition, with Windows XP (that came with this laptop) as a guest, and Adobe Photoshop, the only remaining Windows application I still use. (if you discount the browsers I use for web development testing on different platforms, with Chrome being the latest addition)
It’s isolated from viruses and malware of any kind, I can backup the virtual machine as easy as copying files, and it’s free software under the GPL.
This is the new Virtualbox release that inaugurates a brand new user interface based on QT 4, which makes it look and feel great, just like a KDE 4 application.
That may not sound like a tad of an advantage for some, but the awful truth is that making VMware Workstation run on current desktops is often a real pain, many times it involves patching and compiling the Linux kernel. Even if certain VMware versions are available free of charge, they’re not free software, they come packaged as a set of binaries that target a specific set of platform assumptions.
Virtualbox and its friendliness certainly relieves us from the pain factor.
For this reason if you have a newer OS than the one VMware targeted, or an old system that has been patched to the latest fixes, the question is often: What do you want ? Running VMware on the stable, older, unpatched version subject to security problems ? or… Virtualbox on a current, performant desktop system.
Having the Virtualbox source code available makes it easy for distributions to support Virtualbox, instead of being subject to a limited number of (possibly and often not current) supported platforms.
It also makes it possible to patch, upgrade and enhance Virtualbox with contributions from the Virtualbox Community.
In my case Virtualbox was just a typical Ubuntu/Debian install, and I have to say I’m very impressed by its performance, whilst I still haven’t measured it against VMware I can tell you I’ve used VMware Workstation for years and this feels really snappy. Fast enough to run Photoshop.
(Are there any standards and virtualisation benchmarks with raw hard data out there ? please let me know)
Compared to VMware Workstation there’s some features that you don’t get with this Virtualbox, which Sun delivers under a different productname / licence, Virtualbox OSE. (see the differences here, basically Virtualbox OSE targets enterprise environments, and it’s not fully open source, though it’s available free of charge)
However there’s other little features that don’t come with VMware Workstation (like the Virtualbox Seamless Mode) that make it at least just as good, if not already superior for desktop applications virtualisation.
At least with respect to this particular product, VMware will definitely have to look for greener pastures, because there’s really no good reason to use their desktop product anymore: not money, not performance, not technical convenience, not freedom.
For servers and enterprise virtualisation it may be a different story, but Virtualbox is simply the best desktop virtualisation software available today.
[UPDATE: the bigger screenshot link wouldn’t work, seems to be fine now hosted in Flickr]