Want to Check Out Open Source Virtualization?  Check Out VirtualBox!

| Monday's Mac Gadget

Product Link : VirtualBox
Company Link : Sun Microsystems

Back in the old days, the Mac ran on Motorola (68k series), and later IBM (PowerPC) processors, and they were good. Well, they were good at many things, unless you wanted to run software designed for an Intel processor. Sure, there were products, such as Virtual PC, that did their best to translate Motorola and IBM CPU instructions, but performance was less than stellar. When Apple switched to the Intel processor, virtualization at reasonable speeds became a reality, and products like Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion came on the scene. But there's a relative newcomer on the scene, and they're open source! Enter VirtualBox...

VirtualBox running Windows XP

VirtualBox is a general-purpose full virtualizer for x86 hardware. Targeted at server, desktop and embedded use, it looks to be the only professional-quality virtualization solution that is also Open Source Software. VirtualBox is currently available for Windows (x86 and AMD64), OS X (Intel), Linux, Solaris and OpenSolaris (x86 and AMD64). The list of guest operating systems (those which can be run under VirtualBox) is impressive. It can support Windows (all the way back to Windows 3.1!) ten flavors of Linux, Solaris and OpenSolaris, three flavors of BSD UNIX, IBM OS/2, and even DOS, Netware, L4 and QNX.

VirtualBox supports features found in other popular virtualization environments. You can of course define the size of both system memory and video memory, including 3D acceleration. For storage, you can either define a fixed size virtual drive, or one that grows if you exceed its initial capacity. There's also an audio driver, and you can define network drivers from multiple adapter types. You can also define serial ports, be they USB or the older RS-232 serial ports. To make life easy, you can also define a shared folder which both the VirtualBox and Mac environments can see and access. And if you're into the remote access thing, VirtualBox supports the RDP protocol, so you can view what's happening from another machine.

Have any other Gadgets that make your Mac more flexible? Send an email to John, and he'll check it out.

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I’ve been using VirtualBox since I got my MacBook in November for both work and play. I’ve got WinXP, Ubuntu and RedHat environments. I love it. It was quite simple to configure and works great. I used Parallels a couple of years ago, albeit a couple of revs back from the current one and I just don’t see any disadvantage to the OpenSource package.

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