Virtual Shootout

Which is best for you? For many users, virtualization is a daily part of the computing experience. Test an application?
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Which is best for you? For many users, virtualization is a daily part of the computing experience. Test an application? Switch to a different OS without shutting down? Run a program that only works in Windows?

The possibilities are endless. Several popular options exist for supporting virtualization on a Linux workstation; two of the most popular alternatives are VirtualBox and VMware. The common conception is that VirtualBox is a free tool and VMware is a commercial solution with a price tag.

The reality is a bit more complicated. VMware Workstation Player is only free for non-commercial uses; if you want to use it for business, you’ll need to buy a license. VirtualBox [2] is indeed a free and open source virtualization solution, but certain advanced features are collected into an extension pack that you’ll need to install separately [3].

You can use the extensions without cost for non-commercial purposes. The project website is a little vague on what to do if you want to use the VirtualBox extensions for commercial purposes, but the answer appears to be the VM VirtualBox package from VirtualBox parent company Oracle [4]. If you’re tired of dual-booting or switching computers whenever you need to access a different OS, and you’re shopping for a virtualization alternative, read on for a look at VirtualBox and VMware Workstation Player.

This article compares the free versions of both tools, although you’ll also find some notes about the add-on extension packages. VirtualBox See the box entitled “Testing Environment” for a description of the system used for the tests in this article. Testing Environment The operating system used in the test was Linux Mint The system used Linux kernel 4.

Windows 10 Home 64 bit served as the guest. Popular distributions such as Ubuntu or Debian may already provide VirtualBox in their package repositories, but the repositories usually don’t have the latest version. You can get the latest VirtualBox from the project website [2]. On most systems, you can download the package and click on it in the file manager, and the local package management system will automatically resolve missing dependencies and set up the software.

Alternatively, set up the package, together with the libcurl3 dependency, on the command line Listing 1. Using the official repository will put you in line to receive future updates without waiting for your distribution to integrate the new version. Open a terminal and type in the command from the first line of Listing 2. Import the required key with the commands from lines 2 and 3. After updating the sources line 4 , set up VirtualBox with the command from line 5.

For this extended functionality, you need the proprietary extension pack, which you can still use free of charge for non-commercial purposes. After downloading the extension package, open File Settings in VirtualBox and select the Additional packages section in the new window. Click on the little blue box with the down arrow, and navigate to the directory where the extension pack is located. At the time this article was written, the current version was After downloading, open a terminal and launch the installation by entering: Figure 1: Launch the shell script in the console, and a wizard takes over the VMware Player setup.

A closing dialog in the installation wizard asks for a license key. If you do not have a key, skip this. When the software is launched for the first time, the input window for the license key will reappear.

If you are using the software for your personal use only, it is enough to enter an email address for the license key. However, by entering your address, you automatically agree to receiving advertising. Use the menubar to set global parameters for the program; guest-specific options are right next to the list of guest systems. However, it is worth noting that the free version of Player has far fewer options than VirtualBox. Figure 2: The left side of the window contains the list of guest systems and the right side shows the guest configuration.

In each case, the dialog asks for the intended operating system and the size of the virtual disk. In Player, you can complete the detailed configuration via Edit virtual machine settings once you have finished the basic program setup. In the Hardware tab Virtual Machine Settings , you will find settings for the network, the USB controller, the sound card, and the size of main memory.

The Options tab contains, among other things, settings for remote access, shared folders, and start behavior. The Hard Disk options are remarkably extensive Figure 3: You can mount a virtual disk in the host, defragment, shrink, or enlarge. You will not find these features in the VirtualBox graphical interface.

The exceptionally powerful command-line tool VBoxManage adds some additional options for VirtualBox users [5] if you are comfortable working in a terminal window. Figure 3: Beyond the sparse main window, VMware Workstation Player provides a variety of options for guests to customize the system’s hardware. In VirtualBox, you can set up the host system by clicking on the Settings icon. In the Display section, set the size of memory of the virtual graphics card, the scaling of the host window, and the number of screens.

VirtualBox serves a maximum of four virtual interfaces that support five different modes in the Network section. Three of them NAT, Host-only, Bridged correspond to modes that are available on Player and play the largest role in real-world operations. VirtualBox provides two other adapters that are missing from Player. Player provides a special function that lets you specify what bandwidth the virtual machine may use for inbound and outbound network traffic.

This function ensures that the guest does not negatively affect the host operation. After activating the desired card, click the Advanced button, and a new window will open. You can change, for example, the order of booting or USB settings. You need nimble fingers to open the virtual BIOS: An entry in the configuration file.

Comparing VirtualBox and VMware Workstation Player

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VIDEO: Virtual Shootout » Linux Magazine

VMware Workstation Player (formerly Player Pro) is available for free download and installation for personal use. When downloaded, the. This tutorial shows how to create a virtual Linux workstation running CentOS with an attached display-capable GPU. (To create a Windows Workstation, see the. For the guest systems, I’m using VirtualBox and I’ve set up my linux VM with a host-only network – all the traffic is forced to pass through this.

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