Sun plugs open standard into VirtualBox upgrade

New features in version 2.2 of the virtualisation software include support for the Open Virtualization Format standard, support for Mac OS X 10.6 and performance improvements
Written by Matthew Broersma, Contributor

Sun on Wednesday updated its VirtualBox virtualisation software to version 2.2, adding features such as support for the Open Virtualization Format (OVF) standard.

It also added support for Windows 7 and the upcoming Snow Leopard version of Mac OS X, plus performance improvements to the product. VirtualBox was acquired by Sun along with software maker Innotek in February 2008.

VirtualBox is designed to be a low-cost alternative to products such as VMware Workstation, and is used primarily for development and testing, according to Sun. A programmer can build an application on the desktop using VirtualBox, then deploy it to a production environment on a virtualised server.

Support for the OVF standard means users can export their virtual machine to run on any server virtualisation product that also supports the standard, including products from VMware, Microsoft, Parallels and XenSource.

VirtualBox also works with VMware's own VMDK and Microsoft's VHD virtual machine disk formats, as well as with VirtualBox's own VDI format.

The new version includes a number of performance improvements that should increase the speed of processor-intensive applications, such as Java software, by 15 to 20 percent over VirtualBox 2.1, Sun said.

Version 2.2 increases the maximum memory per virtual machine from 3.5GB to 16GB, which could help improve performance with some applications, the company said. Another boost to performance comes with the addition of support for OpenGL 3D graphics extensions for Linux and Solaris guests. The extensions were only supported in Windows in VirtualBox 2.1.

VirtualBox already offered the use of Mac OS X as a host operating system, and the new version has added the upcoming OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard release. This will make the OS X stack fully 64-bit, from the kernel to the application layer.

The new version also supports Microsoft's upcoming Windows 7 as a host.

Other platforms that can be used as hosts include other versions of Windows, Linux and Solaris. These can also be used for guest operating systems, as can other OSes, such as OS/2 and NetWare.

VirtualBox is available for free for personal use, with a $30 (£20) per year charge for enterprises. The product is available from the VirtualBox website.

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