VirtualBox

VirtualBox is a free desktop virtualization product for x86 platform. It supports both 32bit and 64bit architectures and runs on Oracle Solaris, major Linux distros, MacOS and Windows. VirtualBox is part of the xVM Virtualization suite presented by Sun Microsystems in September 2008 and maintained by Oracle since then.

  • Website: https://www.VirtualBox.org
  • Current version is VirtualBox 6.1 (released in December 2019)
  • Current beta version is VirtualBox 6.1.18 (January 2021)

VirtualBox features

VirtualBox supports a standard set of features, including the following:

  • Unique design – modular and lightweight
  • All VM configuration is stored in XML files
  • Solaris, Windows and Linux are supported as both host and guest OSes, Mac OS X is supported as host OS.
  • Performance: Guest software to optimize the guest VM performance for Linux and Windows
  • Full hardware virtualization (iVT and AMD-V) support
  • Networking: Flexible virtual networking (you can even to PXE boot over NAT)
  • Storage: SATA support
  • Storage: you can use VMware-created disk images (VMDK files)
  • Storage: Shared folders – seamlessly transfer files between host OS and guest VMs

    VirtualBox Changelog with my thoughts

    VirtualBox 6.0

  • Nested virtualization – avaialbe only on AMD CPUs for now – this allows you to install a hypervisor like KVM or VirtualBox inside a VirtualBox guest VM.
  • Hyper-V support – apparently, VirtualBox will detect if it’s running on a Windows server with Hyper-V activated, and will use Hyper-V as virtualization engine – albeit, it might run slower than native VirtualBox or Hyper-V guest VMs
  • Moving stuff – both disk images and VM metadata can now be moved very easily to a new location
  • Closing VMs improved – there’s now an option to keep the same hardware UUID when closing a guest VM
  • FUSE mount for vdisk images – on Mac OS hosts it’s possible to use a vboximg-mount command for raw access to the virtual disks

VirtualBox 6.0 beta 2

  • Available mid-November 2018
  • Refreshed design and better navigation for settings
  • OCI Integration: support for exporting a VM to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure
  • New file manager for controlling the guest file systems and copy objects between hosts and guests
  • Audio/Video recording improved
  • BIOS fixes
  • HiDPI and scaling is supported much more comprehensively

What Are Your Thoughts On VirtualBox 5.0? – 21/01/2016

I’ve been using Parallels for quite some time now but just realised that I never gave VirtualBox 5.0a proper test run.

VirtualBox 5.0 features

From the official release notes it seems there’s lots of useful stuff:

  • Better Windows and Linux VM performance thanks for para-virtualization
  • Improved CPU utilisation – larger set of CPU instructions is now visible to each guest VM so you may see improvements if using recent enough software
  • USB 3.0 support – have to try this with one of my external HDDs
  • Disk image encryption – could be a useful alternative to built-in encryption of OS filesystems

Recent improvements in VirtualBox 5.0

And from the most recent VirtualBox 5.0 release (5.0.14), there seems ot be a few OSX related improvements:

  • fixed audio capture on OSX
  • proper limiting of vCPUs (not very relevant on my dual core laptop, I think)
  • several El Capitan related bugfixes

What do you think of VirtualBox 5.0?

So the questions are:

  • What are your thougths on VirtualBox 5.0?
  • Are you still using VirtualBox?
  • Is primary use still desktop or are you looking at Docker containers or anything else server related?

Thanks for taking the time to comment, feel free to let me know on Twitter as well (@glebreys)

VirtualBox 3.1 – 17/12/2009

Just getting around to have a look at VirtualBox 3.1, which is yet another major update to the great free desktop virtualization from Sun Microsystems.

Top 3 things to try in VirtualBox 3.1

Here are the top 3 things I personally think VirtualBox 3.1 will be popular for:

Teleportation – a new term coined by VirtualBox team for live migration. This allows you to migrate a live VM environment from one host to another. Traditionally being a feature of only the most advanced server-grade virtualization solutions, live migration is surely a welcome feature in VirtualBox. For those who haven’t tried it yet, live VM means it’s up and running and live migration implies your VM keeps functioning and is fully accessible throughout the migration – an obvious improvement from previous “shut down VM on host1, start it up on host2”.

Improved management of VM states on the snapshot level – apparently, you can now restore your VM state from any snapshot and not just the latest one. Starting with VirtualBox 3.1, it is also possible to branch snapshots out – take snapshots of a any given snapshots.

Paravirtualized network adapters (virtio) support – this is a great feature which allows you to use the well-known virtio network adapter by KVM instead of a standard driver software emulating the hardware of a network card. In short, this allows your VMs to use a highly optimized software solution for virtual network cards.

VirtualBox 3.0 Released – 30/06/2009

Major changes in VirtualBox 3.0

The two major improvements in VirtualBox 3.0 can be summed up like this:

  • multi-processor VMs – guest SMP with up to 32 virtual CPUs (VT-x and AMD-V only)
  • graphics improvements: Direct3D 8/9 (Windows guests only) and OpenGL 2.0 (Windows, Linux and Solaris guests)

Updated functionality in VirtualBox 3.0

There are, as always, quite a few bugfixes and new features. These ones seemed interesting to me, but be sure to check out the full VirtualBox 3.0 changelog:

  • VMM: eliminated IO-APIC overhead with 32 bits guests (VT-x only) – looks like there won’t be a performance penalty for using IO-APIC anymore
  • VRDP: support Windows 7 RDP client
  • Linux guests: new daemon vboxadd-service to handle time synchronization and guest property lookup
  • USB: Support for high-speed isochronous endpoints (Linux hosts only, will help with webcameras)
  • GUI: settings dialog changed – looks much better organized now, and obviously supports all the newly introduced features.

VirtuaBox 2.2: OpenGL for Linux and Solaris guests – 09/04/2009

OpenGL for Linux and Solaris guests

If you remember, 3D acceleration was introduced for Windows XP guests in VirtualBox 2.1, and now similar functionality had been ported for Linux and Solaris VMs. A quick experiment shows almost 4x performance improvement for 3D between VirtualBox 2.1.2 and VirtualBox 2.2 – I’ve simply booted Ubuntu live cd and used glxgears to get some idea about the efficiency of new 3D acceleration support.

Host-only networking

Another interesting feature added in 2.2 is the host-only networking. Similarly to a bridged networking, it allows virtual machines exchange network traffic with each other and with the host, but without a need for the real network interface on the host system.

Full support for the OVF

Open Virtualization Format (OVF) is now fully supported, which means you can import OVF systems or export any of your VMs into OVF.

This release brings a few more improvements, so please consult the VirtualBox changelog for all the details.

VirtualBox 2.1.2 adds support for Windows 7 – 23/01/2009

January 21st saw the release of 2.1.2 update of a popular desktop virtualization solution – xVM VirtualBox.

As usual, there had been numerous bugfixes and performance improvements, and among the new features came one of the most anticipated features – support for Windows 7 VMs.

Frankly, I am surprised as how well Win7 performed in a VM with just 512Mb!

VirtualBox 2.1.0 – 19/12/2008

Another major release of Sun xVM VirtualBox, the 2.1.0 version, is now available for download.

From the list of major improvements, I’d like to highlight comment a few.

VirtualBox 2.1.0 major improvements

  • Experimental LsiLogic and BusLogic SCSI controllers – a long awaited feature which means VMs from VMware and many more virtualization solutions can now work in VirtualBox even if they had these controllers emulated at the time of initial VM configuration
  • Mac OS X users can now enjoy the support for hardware virtualization (VT-x and AMD-V) – to me, this looks like VirtualBox is taking all the right steps to attract more and more users of Mac OS
  • It is now possible to run 64-bit guest VMs on 32-bit host operating systems. Only recent CPUs with hardware virtualization support will allow you to give this a try. I’ll have to wait a bit myself – my home PC turned out to be so old that it doesn’t even support AMD-V.
  • Experimental 3D acceleration via OpenGL – so far provided only in a form of a specialized Windows XP/Vista VM driver, this feature hints that there may be similar approach added for Linux and Solaris VMs.
  • Intel Nehalem virtualization enhancements support (EPT and VPID) – this means those ones of you who are lucky enough to already own the latest generation of Intel CPUs, the Inte; Core i7 ones, can enjoy even more of a performance advantage
  • Full VMDK/VHD support including snapshots – again, snapshots is a common practice in managing VMs these days, so it’s great to see it fully supported in VirtualBox For more details, be sure to visit the official VirtualBox site and read the full VirtualBox 2.1.0 changelog.

My verdict: Just most major VirtualBox updates, this one is a must have for any user looking for a serious desktop virtualization solution.

VirtualBox 2.0 – 09/09/2008

Finally, I have the time to confirm one of the releases I’ve been waiting for: VirtualBox, a desktop virtualization by Sun Microsystems, turned 2.0 last week and you can download VirtualBox 2.0 right now!

Major update: VirtualBox 2.0

Being a major release, VirtualBox 2.0 brings a host of improvements to its already popular platform. I personally find the following most important:

  • 64 bits guest support – if you’re running a 64-bit host OS, your guests VMs don’t have to be limited to 32bit anymore
  • Support for AMD-V Nested Pages – this is going to give you a major performance boost if you’re lucky enough to be using recent quad-core CPUs from AMD
  • Framework for collecting performance and resource usage data (metrics)– VboxManage command now allows setting polling interval and specify data metrics you’re interested in for internal performance data collection. Once enabled, such information can be accessed at any time – both host and guest systems are monitored.
  • SATA asynchronous IO (NCQ: Native Command Queuing) – another performance win when using raw disk partitions
  • Microsoft’s VHD disk images support – it seems that VirtualBox is one of the most compatible desktop virtualization solutions now, allowing you to simply use virtual disks created by other systems as oppose to converting them using additional software tools

Just released: Sun xVM VirtualBox 1.6.2 – 06/06/2008

Sun Microsystems has just released the maintenance update to VirtualBox product, so xVM VirtualBox 1.6.2 is available for download.

Looks like version 1.6.2 is well worth the upgrade, at least for 64-bit PCs. I’m also happy to see many of Linux and Solaris host-related fixes, the stability of VirtualBox has really improved since version 1.5.

Here’s just a few things I like from the VirtualBox changelog:

  • VMM: fixed starting of VMs with AMD-V enabled
  • VMM: massive performance enhancements for AMD-V
  • VMM: stability improvements for AMD-V on Windows hosts
  • VMM: correctly detect AMD CPUs with erratum 170 (AMD-V)
  • Shared Folders: several fixes (iTunes download, speed up browsing)
  • NAT: don’t crash if the guest sent a DHCPRELEASE message with an invalid IP address
  • NAT: fixed ARP reply for the NAT gateway and for the NAT name server if the guest IP range was changed
  • BIOS: allow to change the DMI informatiton (see chapter 9.13, Con’guring the BIOS DMI information, page 125)
  • Linux hosts: fixed default runlevel for the kernel module helper script
  • Solaris hosts: enabled support for VT-x and AMD-V
  • Solaris hosts: dynamic loading of libdlpi fixes a problem where Solaris 10 was not able to start a VM
  • Linux additions: fixed runlevels for kernel module helper scripts
  • Linux additions: compatibility fixes with Linux 2.6.26
  • Linux additions: fixed occasional guest kernel crash during unload of the vboxadd guest kernel module

Sun xVM VirtualBox 1.6 – 06/05/2008

Last week, Sun Microsystems has released the next major update for its recently acquired VirtualBox product – Sun xVM VirtualBox 1.6.

What is Sun xVM VirtualBox?

VirtualBox is an absolutely free virtualization product for x86 platform. It supports both 32bit and 64bit architectures and can be used in both server and desktop virtualization.

VirtualBox supports a standard set of features, including the following:

  • Unique design – modular and lightweight
  • All VM configuration is stored in XML files
  • Solaris, Windows and Linux are supported as both host and guest OSes, Mac OS X is supported as host OS.
  • Performance: Guest software to optimize the guest VM performance for Linux and Windows
  • Networking: Flexible virtual networking (you can even to PXE boot over NAT)
  • Storage: SATA support
  • Storage: you can use VMware-created disk images (VMDK files)
  • Shared folders – seamlessly transfer files between host OS and guest VMs

What’s new in VirtualBox 1.6

Obviously, you’ll notice that VirtualBox now looks like a Sun product – colors have gone through subtle changes which reflect Sun’s elements of design.

Feature-wise, here’s what’s new in this major update:

  • Solaris and Mac OS X host support
  • Seamless windowing for Linux and Solaris guests
  • Guest Additions for Solaris
  • A webservice API
  • SATA hard disk (AHCI) controller
  • Experimental Physical Address Extension (PAE) support

Apart from this, I really like many other improvements:

  • VMM: reduced host CPU load of idle guests
  • VMM: many fixes for VT-x/SVM hardware-supported virtualization
  • USB: fixed problems with USB 2.0 devices
  • NAT: improved builtin DHCP server (implemented DHCPNAK response)
  • NAT: port forwarding stopped when restoring the VM from a saved state
  • NAT: make subnet configurable
  • Storage: better write optimization, prevent images from growing unnecessarily.
  • Shared Folders: many bugfixes to improve stability (I’d love to see it fixed cause it was unusable in 1.5 on my 64-bit Ubuntu Gutsy)
  • Linux additions: several fixes, experimental support for RandR 1.2
  • Linux additions: compatibility fixes with Linux 2.6.25

For a full changelog, please visit the VirtualBox changelog link below.

I’ve already downloaded it and will definitely give it a try on my home PC. One thing I’m really interested in is double-checking whether there’s any tweaking to get VMware Server 2b2 and VirtualBox co-exist in the same Ubuntu Hardy environment.

VirtualBox To Join the xVM family (Sun acquires Innotek) – 13/02/2008

Sun Microsystems has just announced the agreement to acquire innotek, a Germany-based provider of an open source desktop virtualization software called VirtualBox.

Many of you are already familiar with both Sun xVM and VirtualBox, and I agree it does look like these are very similar and competing solutions, but there are a few differences which ensure that xVM and VirtualBox will only compliment each other in your environment:

  • Sun xVM Server and VirtualBox are different types of hypervisors: Sun xVM is a bare-metal, kernel-level hypervisor, which runs directly on the hardware. VirtualBox hypervisor is an application that installs on top of an existing OS.
  • Sun xVM Server is a datacentre-targeted solution for server virtualization and consolidation. VirtualBox is a lightweight desktop virtualization solution.
  • Sun xVM Server suppors VM migration and predictive self-healing .VirtualBox doesn’t have these features, but provides rapid deployment capabilities due to its tiny footprint.

See Also

  • [Official Docker website][docker]
  • [Docker Hub][docker-hub]
  • [New Pricing for Docker Hub][docker-hub-pricing]
  • [Docker Inspect][docker-inspect]
  • [Docker Stop All Containers][docker-stop-all]
  • [List Docker containers][docker-list]
  • [Remove Unused Volumes in Docker][docker-remove-volumes]
  • [Restart Stopped Containers in Docker][docker-restart]



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