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Linux Virtualization Options Roundup

Quoting from the Mad Penguin

These days, it seems like OS transparency is more necessary than ever before. Luckily, there are plenty of great virtualization options to choose from when you need to run another OS, without actually having to install it along side your existing operating system. Today, we examine each of these options and review their abilities in a rapid fire round.

VirtualBox: One of my favorites, this open source consideration feels very much like the non-open source option Parallels.  Free to use, works with both Windows and Linux, plus you have all the options you need for fair USB device support.

Upside: Active development, supports multiple operating systems easily, fair support for USB devices and provides a  very intuitive UI.

VirtualBox: One of my favorites, this open source consideration feels very much like the non-open source option Parallels.  Free to use, works with both Windows and Linux, plus you have all the options you need for fair USB device support.

Upside: Active development, supports multiple operating systems easily, fair support for USB devices and provides a  very intuitive UI.

Downside: This may only be me, but I had some issues getting Vista and XP to work well with it. Although Windows is supported, I can only assume that it was just my own dumb luck and the support mentioned does work with Windows.

Parallels: Definitely a popular option, I have found that with Windows Parallels cannot be beat. Excellent USB device support, and like VirtualBox, you can install as many OSes as you would like.

Upside: Works as well as VirtualBox and in Windows case, it appears to be working much more smoothly.  To be blunt, it runs faster than VirtualBox out of the box. It also appears to do better with virtual hardware support than VirtualBox in Windows. Even though it is not free, they do offer a beta program should you wish to help test their next release.

Downside: With that said, I have found that it lacks the open source magic that we have all come to love and respect. That's right, it is closed source and costs money to use. Even considering the free trial they offer, at the end of the day, you will need to pony up the cash to purchase this application.

Ubuntu: Taking Over the Linux World

VMWare: I know many people who believe this is the best solution of its kind in the market, perhaps because of the free VMWare player that works to allow virtualization for your guest OS? I have even heard some claim that they felt it was significantly superior to the previous two solutions.

Upside: It's been around awhile, so you know what to expect. Since VMWare will continue to be around for many years to come, long-term support and development should not be an issue. They also provide server solutions, in addition to the free player. For the advanced user, it is a great option.

Downside: This is not the best solution for the typical user who is just starting out in the Linux world. Now, should you be using an RPM-based distro, then installation is easy enough. But unfortunately, VMWare doesn't offer Deb packages on their website. This means you will either compile it if you are using Ubuntu, or use Automatix to download it easily.

Once it is installed, now you have to figure out how to create a VMWare VMX file so you can get your guest OS up and running. May I suggest using EasyVMX?  This is not an "out of the box" product, and since you will need to create the virtual machine before installing your guest application it seems, EasyVMX will make your life much simpler.

Win4Lin: Much like Windows, it used to come in multiple flavors and provided a trialware offering before slapping down the rather pricy amount(s) needed to run this application. Today, it seems that you are either looking at an option for terminal server or Win4Lin Pro.

Upside: Honestly, I never found one. Unless you are using Linspire with One-Click CNR access, Parallels blows the doors off of Win4Lin.

Downside: Where do I begin? It is expensive, it only runs Windows XP, and the icing on the cake was the complete lack of support of Ubuntu Edgy a while back. Officially, they said they supported it, then you had to start jumping through all sorts of hoops to make it a reality. All I can say is try the trial if you like, but understand that you will end up dropping it pretty soon.

This concludes our quick roundup of all the virtualization options, and we hope you enjoyed an easy to digest take on the number of options that are available for you to choose from.

Read or comment on the original, here.

Published Wednesday, July 18, 2007 5:48 AM by David Marshall
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