An Unexpected Aquarium Experience

I downloaded Sun's Virtual Box version 2.1.0 here at home after having my adventures at work with Visaster running VMWare Workstation 6.
Written by Xwindowsjunkie , Contributor

I downloaded Sun's Virtual Box version 2.1.0 here at home after having my adventures at work with Visaster running VMWare Workstation 6.5.

I installed it on my home computer running Windows XP Pro. What a surprise! It works very nicely. I loaded Fedora core 10 and openSuse11 both worked well, and not particularly slow. I could tell I was in a VM but it was very reasonable performance.

Yeah I know that I swore I'd never look at another Windows product again....I downloaded the Win7 Beta iso. I'm now one of the "exclusive 2.5 million" that are going to be allowed to run the software until August 09 when it suicides. Burned a couple of DVD-Rs for work.

After the good performance with the Linux distros, I thought; "Well what the heck!" I installed the Win7 iso straight from its file on the Win XP Pro system into a new VM running under Sun's Virtual Box.

One point here that bears noting: I've gotten so used to Linux that I didn't bother to think about system performance issues when I installed the iso into the Virtual Box. The ISO and the virtual drive happened to be on the same physical drive and even worse in the same partition. Installation took over 2 hours. When I realized what I had done, I realized one user issue that isn't easily addressed by Linux, if you have more than one drive and you like to jack the performance up, having two drives actually improves performance. The caveat being that if you're reading from one and writing onto another volume, they need to be on separate physical drives.

After doing a lot of other things while Visaster SP2 (Windows 7) installed, I'd look in on it and watch what was going on. Somewhere along the way I wondered why the sunlight was streaming down from the sky on the desktop. Yeah I have to admit a really nasty semi-biblical thought passed. Then somewhere along the way the Siamese fighting fish pops up. Oh OK, I think, "We're under water". I wasn't sure if that was a counter-play to Aero or not but I laughed anyway.

It goes through a number of reboots but it tells you in the beginning it will be doing it. (Somebody actually thought through the "user install experience" a little bit.) It reboots after getting it all done and asks for a password. I type it in and it starts up in the VM. Way Cool! It actually works!

In fact I'm writing this blog entry using FIREFOX 3 running on Windows 7 inside the Sun Virtual Box. Its apparently running at near full speed. All the little pop-ups in the zdnet.co.uk website are popping up and changing at about the same speed as on my Linux boxes.

I installed OpenOffice 3.0 on Windows 7 Beta it and that seems to work as well without any hiccups.

Definitely, if you want to run a VM on your computer use Sun's Virtual Box. Its definitely worth looking at especially considering the price, its free. I'm going to look at their Linux versions next. There are versions for practically all of the major Linux distros both 32 and 64 bit.

In fact Windows 7 works so freaking well in the Sun VM I'm going to ask the kool-aid drinker at the office if I can put it on another hard drive and run it instead of Visaster as my nominal desktop system. He'll probably fall over in a faint.

---------added notes

It seems as if Win7 is beginning to look more and more like a lot of the Linux distros. A lot more of the user interface has either become more abstracted or is more hidden behind panels. If you are using many different operating systems during the day, it gets hard to remember where the NIC or the video adjustments are when jumping from one Linux or Windows OS to another.

Over at VirtualBox.org there are an number of blogs and articles on installing Windows 7 Beta on Sun's Virtual Box and surprisingly a number of them deal directly with running Sun Virtual Box instances of Win 7 on a Win XP Pro host.

VirtualBox does not have all the bells and whistles of VMWare Workstation but it is definitely worth looking at for evaluating Win7 at minimal cost.

BTW-- set your virtual drive for Win7 at least 10 GB, the OS install alone took 6+ GB of space in the drive file.

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