Sun xVM VirtualBox 3.0: Virtual Developer's Delight

Sun xVM VirtualBox 3.0: Virtual Developer's Delight

Summary: Windows 7 Ultimate RC 64-Bit Edition virtualized on Fedora 11, 64-Bit using Sun xVM VirtualBox 3.0With little fanfare, Sun Microsystems released version 3.


Sun xVM VirtualBox 3.0

Windows 7 Ultimate RC 64-Bit Edition virtualized on Fedora 11, 64-Bit using Sun xVM VirtualBox 3.0

With little fanfare, Sun Microsystems released version 3.0 of xVM VirtualBox, the Open Source and multi-platform desktop virtualization tool for Unix, Linux, Windows and Mac. The new release represents a culmination of hundreds of bugfixes and significant performance enhancements, including the ability for the product to permit guest OSes to use up to 32 virtual CPUs each. Under previous versions of the product, only one CPU core per guest OS was permitted.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

Also See: Sun xVM VirtualBox 3.0 Gallery

Also Read: Sun xVM VirtualBox versus VMWare Server

Also Read: VirtualBox 3.0 snapshot analysis (Dan Kusnetzky)

With the "Guest Additions" CD accompanying the release, VirtualBox 3.0 provides full integration for even the most recent Microsoft OSes, including 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, as well as for all of the major Linux distributions (Fedora/RHEL, SLES/OpenSUSE, Ubuntu, Debian and TurboLinux)  and  Sun's own Solaris and OpenSolaris operating systems.

In addition to support for multiple virtual CPU cores per guest OS, VirtualBox 3.0 provides experimental support for accelerated Direct3D 8/9 applications under Windows guests. OpenGL 2.0 is also supported for both Windows and Linux guest OSes. Sun has also significantly improved integration and performance enhancements for the Solaris OS as both a guest and a host for VirtualBox 3.0.

As with previous versions, VirtualBox 3.0 supports remote console capability thru a built in RDP server, so that Windows, Linux, and UNIX OSes can be remotely managed via the Windows Remote Desktop Connection client or any number of Open Source RDP clients. The software can run in a full GUI mode or in a "headless" server-only mode. VirtualBox also supports booting guest OSes from remote iSCSI targets. In addition to its own native .VDI format, VirtualBox also supports Microsoft VHD and VMWare VMDK VM disk formats.

The complete list of changes is chronicled on the VirtualBox Web Site.

As the beta test period was brief prior to Sun's release announcement, I was only able to test Version 3.0 on 64-bit OpenSolaris and Fedora 11 Linux host OSes. However, I was easily able to move VDI files between the systems for my virtual Windows 7 system. I would expect that like previous VirtualBox releases, the Windows and Mac installs should be fairly straightforward -- simply click on the install executable and follow the prompts. The Solaris install is currently provided in tarball format with an install shell script.

For Fedora and RHEL, the requirements for installing VirtualBox include installing the GNU GCC compiler and the kernel development packages in order to recompile the essential kernel modules for the virtual machine monitor and the virtual networking driver. For a quick overview of the process, a post at the official Fedora forums describes the procedure in detail.

For other popular Linux operating systems such as Ubuntu, Debian and OpenSUSE, VirtualBox also provides comprehensive documentation in its PDF manual.

What's your take on the latest xVM VirtualBox? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Virtualization, Hardware, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Oracle, Software, Software Development, Windows


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • It works!

    You're right about little fanfare. I have a system
    that is plenty fast, but not able to run the
    Windows XP virtual disk inside of Windows 7. I
    need to upload data to a site that works with
    Windows Vista and IE 7.0 or earlier. Ran Virtual
    Box two weeks ago and was able to upload my
    medical data without a hitch. Fast and painless.
  • Direct 3D

    The direct 3D support will be a great improvement as a lot of entertainment and CAD software depends on it. This will be a lot like Parallel VM

    Btw, does anyone know if any software can provide Direct X over RDP ?

    If you need Windows VMs without configuring each client, you can always try out ThinServer
    • Re: Direct 3D

      [i]The direct 3D support will be a great improvement as a lot of entertainment and CAD software depends on it. This will be a lot like Parallel VM[/i]

      Don't get your hopes up to high. While it may be able to run those programs, it is unlikely it will run CAD and other such programs with decent performance. Even though it enables 3D acceleration, it's still layered in software. Also, full support isn't always guaranteed.

      [i]Btw, does anyone know if any software can provide Direct X over RDP ?[/i]

      Unless you have a super fast network, I doubt you'd get any RDP to stream fast enough to enable full 3D support or see the benefits without a huge performance hit. Considering there is a good bit of lag with software rendering across a 100Mbps LAN, I'd say even a 1Gbps LAN wouldn't be able to keep up with the demand that DirectX 3D would require. Not to mention soak up the bandwidth making the connection useless for even surfing web pages. Just my opinion though.
  • OK Windows Folks

    Put VirtualBox 3.0 on your Ubuntu 9.04 Linux, or in Jason's case Fedora 11, or any of the great Linux Distros, and you've got a power pack, particularly if your PC's chipset has Intel-VT or AMD-V support.

    VirtualBox will work fine without those chipsets, unlike W7's XP Mode which makes their presence a hard requirement.

    You'll have full multi-processor, openGL and DirectX 3D rendering support.

    So, don't waste your time. Get going with that Linux install and park a copy of VirtualBox 3.0 on there.

    W7 doesn't approach the capabilities of Linux--not even close.

    Thanks Jason.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz
    • are you sure VT helps??

      Are you sure that Intel-VT and AMD-V help? At least as for the last version, Virtual Vox documentation clearly states that software emulation was superior to hardware equivalent. I think HW virtualization was a requirement only when mixing 32 and 64 bits guest and OSes.

      • That may have been true circa 2007; not so anymore

        Try VirtualBox 3.0 and decide for yourself.
        Dietrich T. Schmitz
    • Some misconceptions there.

      [i]You'll have full multi-processor, openGL and DirectX 3D rendering support.[/i]

      It clearly states that is attempts DirectX 8/9 emulation. It says nothing about full DirectX 3D acceleration being guaranteed. Also, it states that it have support for Virtual multiprocessor, which is not that same as actual multiprocessor. Not saying VirtualBox isn't better then XP Mode, because it does have it's benefits, but there is no need to make up crap. XP Mode requires no extra license to use XP, where as using VirtualBox does require a seperate license to be legal. This might not mean anything to an average user like yourself, but large businesses have to try and stay legal as they are more prone to audits.

      [i]W7 doesn't approach the capabilities of Linux--not even close.[/i]

      Name something significant Linux does that Windows 7 doesn't. I'll wait...
      • Incorrect.

        Window XP licensing allows for the software to be 'moved' from one PC to another as long as the original instance is deleted.

        I can show you a relatively simple way to image an existing 'machine A' XP and move that image directly into (with no intermediate steps) a VM partition.

        The result is 'zero configuration' on 'machine B' and the user keeps all of their custom configuration settings, documents in their original form, unaltered.

        A straight block image copy from source PC to target replacement PC using Knoppix and dd or dd_rescue.

        License remains in tact and no additional licensing is required!

        Running a new PC with Ubuntu 9.04 and VirtualBox 3.0 running your old PC's XP is a $0.00 software cost consideration.

        Just requires a little 'brain power' and ingenuity.

        Do your homework! And while you are it, read a copy of the Windows XP license.
        Dietrich T. Schmitz
        • Read ALL of the XP licenses

          XP may or may not be able to be moved. If it is an OEM license, then it cannot. Some companies buy OEM, some volume licenses, etc. But you are right, read the XP license.
  • RE: Works better than Virtual PC 2k7 SP1 for Unix

    Tried to virtualize a Linux distro with Virtual PC and it would crash horribly. Found VirtualBox while it was still Innotek, but Sun has done an excellent job on keeping it up.
  • RE: Sun xVM VirtualBox 3.0: Virtual Developer's Delight

    Been using VB since it was Innotek to play some games on Ubuntu in a Win2k window, but 3.0 still doesn't see the CD for RCT2 to work even though I can see the CD folder. Haven't got any other CD hosted games to see if this is a generic problem.

    Can do everything else though. Especially useful for virtualising other Linux distros to see if they are better than Ubuntu, or have some software I'd like on Jaunty.
  • Works Better Than VMWare Server

    I've been using VMWare Server on Ubuntu for quite some time now, but ever since version 2 came out, I have been growing increasingly dissatisfied. For example, the main control console is now a web interface, which breaks every time Firefox changes. I don't have time for this -- I have work to do!

    When it came time to use the 64 bit version of VMWare, I knew it was time to look for something else. I couldn't get it to work completely. VirtualBox 3 is as easy to use as VMWare *used* to be (in version 1.x), and just as powerful. Don't get me wrong, there are still glitches -- like the fact that I have to use Samba shares with Microsoft Word instead of VB's Shared Folders feature (Word creates read-only files that can only be made writable from the Host OS -- no idea why). But all in all, VirtualBox is just as powerful as VMWare, and a lot easier to use.

    Of course, the fact that VirtualBox comes in a GPL edition only makes it sweeter!
    • I agree

      I've been running Windows as a VM for quite a while- starting with Win98 under Win4Lin 9x (lighting fast- amazing). When I had to move to XP, I went with VMWare server.
      A new computer build made me look around and test other VM solutions, and VBox- at least for me- runs much faster than VMWare, and is simple to set up and provision.
      I do have some USB issues, and have no need for video acceleration, but for what I need, VBox is great.
  • way better than vmware server

    way better than vmware server

    runs excepcionally good in x64 OS.