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Sun Microsystems VirtualBox First Impressions

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I just downloaded this, and after using it for only a few minutes, I can say that it is a very good piece of software. I haven't had any experience with VMWare or Parallels, so I can't compare it to those, but I have used Q for a very long time and can say with 100% certainty that it will not be used again. VirtualBox is FAST. Built-in support for VT-x virtualization acceleration (available on most Core 2 Duo processors) speeds the system up a bit, but most people won't notice much of an advantage. Sun really did a good job making the CPU-based emulation very fast and efficient. When the VMs are idle, VirtualBox uses almost no processor power, and at reasonable load it uses about 60-70% of my C2D system (out of a total of 200%.) I don't notice any performance degradation in any other applications (with the exception of video editing and other processor-intensive tasks.) Usability is great too. The program has a disk image manager that allows you to keep track of all your disk images and swap between them without having to hunt for them. The program creates a new Dock icon for each VM and puts a live preview on it, so it's easy to see what all your VMs are doing with just a glance at the Dock. Another feature I like is snapshots, which allows you to take a "snapshot" of any VM and retrieve it at a later time. So far, I have tried ReactOS, KUbuntu 8, and Fedora 9, and all work flawlessly (except ReactOS, but that's the OS's fault, not VirtualBox.) Unfortunately, you probably won't be able to use more advanced visual effects due to the lack of GPU acceleration, but it does support up to 128 MB of virtual video memory, so it should provide at least decent graphics performance. Probably no 3D games, though.


So that's my first experience with VirtualBox. I'll post an update after I use it for a while and get a chance to discover any other features/bugs/etc. But in my opinion, if you're looking for an inexpensive (FREE) alternative to VMWare or Parallels, this is it.

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