Sun has released a major update to its open-source desktop virtualisation tool xVM VirtualBox, adding support for Mac OS X and Solaris host operating systems, in addition to other improvements.
Software makers such as Parallels have been making Mac OS X virtualisation software for some time, but Sun is the first to release an open-source virtualisation product for the platform.
Virtualisation technology allows several operating systems to run at the same time on a single physical host. VirtualBox runs as an application on a host operating system, on top of which various guest OSs can execute.
The software was originally developed by Germany-based Innotek, which was acquired by Sun in February. It competes with a range of virtualisation competitors, including market leader VMware.
The free, open-source version is available for download, and Sun also sells a version under a proprietary licence with additional features such as USB support and a Remote Display Protocol (RDP) server.
The proprietary version is also available as a free download, but only for personal use; business users must purchase licences.
Besides support for Solaris and Mac OS X as hosts, VirtualBox 1.6 integrates the windowing mechanism for Linux and Solaris guests, adds a programming interface for web services and adds a controller for Sata hard disks, among other features, Sun said.
Solaris is supported as a guest OS, but Mac OS X is not yet supported as a guest, Sun said. Other guests supported include Windows and a number of versions of Linux and Unix, while supported hosts include Linux, Windows and experimental support for OS/2 Warp.