What's the best hosted virtualisation suite?

Summary:A lot of the fuss behind virtualisation is focused around the datacentre. That's all well and good, but there is a whole world of virtualisation for workstations where competition for the best suite is red-hot and constantly improving.


VMware Workstation
Installation for VMware Workstation is a breeze. After downloading the product from its product page, it was a simple case of installing the packages needed in Ubuntu and executing the downloaded software bundle and following the prompts. The bundle is an easier alternative to converting the rpm file for non-rpm-based distributions such as Ubuntu.

The hardest part of this install was having to sign up to the VMware site and receive a trial key, which is a sign of the ease of installation for this mature product.

It's a snap to get Windows XP running with the unattended install process.
(Credit: Chris Duckett/ZDNet.com.au)

Two options exist to get VirtualBox onto a Linux system: via the distribution's package manager or via the VirtualBox site itself.

Based on previous experience with a Gentoo box, the VirtualBox OSE package can be more hassle than it is worth. The pre-packaged version available from the VirtualBox site worked liked a charm. Simply download the appropriate file, click to install it and you will have VirtualBox up and running in no time.

VirtualBox's sheer pace is hard to beat.
(Credit: Chris Duckett/ZDNet.com.au)

Parallels Workstation
Parallels' traditional strength has been on the OS X operating system, and one would truly hope so after the drama needed to get Parallels working properly on Ubuntu. It's easy enough to acquire a copy of Parallels and the necessary trial key from its product page, but careful reading of said page should flash some warning lights.

For instance, the site says "New! Parallels Workstation now installs on new Linux kernel (2.6.23)", a kernel that has its origins in 2007 and has been superseded by six stable releases of the kernel in that time.

Also "new" to Parallels Workstation according to its product page is support for Ubuntu 7.10 and Fedora 8, yet again the state-of-the-art Linux circa late 2007.

The real pain with installing Parallels came after installing the deb archive off the site and finding it impossible to complete the parallels-config command. This was due to using the latest Ubuntu distribution. Thanks to the instructions available here installation was able to be completed, but this process easily made Parallels Workstation the hardest product to get up and running.

It's a snap to get Windows XP running with the unattended install process.
(Credit: Chris Duckett/ZDNet.com.au)

Wine installation is handled by Ubuntu's apt package management system. An apt-get install wine is all that is needed to install it, followed by running the winecfg command. Once these two commands are completed, you are ready to roll.

Wine integrates fully with the Ubuntu environment.
(Credit: Chris Duckett/ZDNet.com.au)

KVM's installation is also handled by apt, however unlike Wine, there are a number of other steps needed to complete the installation. Some of the steps require editing of XML files, but the instructions are straightforward and should not create any difficulty.

It is also recommended to install a graphical tool for KVM to make managing of virtual machines much more easier.

In typical *nix fashion, the Virtual Machine Manager shown here does not come bundled with KVM.
(Credit: Chris Duckett/ZDNet.com.au)

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Virtualization


Chris started his journalistic adventure in 2006 as the Editor of Builder AU after originally joining CBS as a programmer. After a Canadian sojourn, he returned in 2011 as the Editor of TechRepublic Australia, and is now the Australian Editor of ZDNet.

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