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VirtualBox Surfaces with a Beta of its Next Major Release Update - Version 5.0

Oracle's VirtualBox, the open source virtualization system for Linux, Mac OS X, and Microsoft Windows operating systems, gets its first major product update after more than 4 years!

The last time VirtualBox made a major version announcement was the 4.0 release back in December 2010.  But since that time, the open source project has been slow to make any major moves on the development front.  Version 4.3 surfaced in late 2013, but everything since that time has been little more than minor dot updates without any significant product features, instead focusing on minor improvements and maintenance fixes.

On April 1st that changed.  Frank Mehnert, software development director at VirtualBox, announced availability for download and testing of a Beta release of the upcoming and anticipated Oracle VirtualBox 5.0.  The release introduces a number of new features, as well as many bug fixes.  However, let it be know, this is a Beta and should not be thought of as ready for prime time.  With the announcement, Mehnert makes it clear that the new release is not production ready and should be considered a bleeding-edge release meant only for early evaluation and testing purposes at this point.

Some of the more interesting items with VirtualBox 5.0 include paravirtualization for Windows and Linux guests, support for USB 3.0 and multiple USB devices, hot-plugging support for SATA disks, drag and drop operations between Windows, Linux and Solaris guests, and disk image encryption.  VirtualBox 5.0 also adds support for more instruction set extensions that run with hardware-assisted virtualization.  The AES-NI instruction set, typically used for hardware acceleration of encryption, and the SSE 4.1, SSE 4.2, POPCNT, RDRAND and RDSEED instructions sets were also included.

VirtualBox 5.0 Beta also introduces usability improvements to the GUI.  A major change is the ability to customize the status and menu toolbars for individual virtual machines so that users can clean up their GUI by removing options that are rarely or never used.  Other GUI enhancements include: Detach mode which allows the user to terminate the GUI but keep the VM running and re-attach to a running VM process; VM guest-content scaling support (including 3D acceleration); and HiDPI support including application icons and optional unscaled HiDPI output on Mac OS X (including 3D acceleration).

In addition to the new features listed above, the Beta also fixes several annoying bugs still present in the current stable release of the product, including: USB traffic capturing, improved timing on Solaris with older VT-x hosts, resizing X11 guests more reliably, as well as several issues with the API.

There's been no ETA yet as to when the final 5.0 release will GA, but Oracle is encouraging users to give the Beta a try.  Any bugs should be reported to the VirtualBox Beta Feedback forum.

Ready?  View the complete list of 5.0 features and bug fixes or get started by downloading the VirtualBox 5.0 Beta binaries today.

Published Monday, April 06, 2015 9:25 AM by David Marshall
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