Virtual Box

Virtual box – fast emulation for Linux

Having tried qemu, vmware and virtual box I have found virtual box to be the easiest virtual machine for Ubuntu to use without sacrificing any performance.

Installation

Virtual box can be obtained from Innotek. Apparently it is based on Qemu and so is partly open source. They have two versions on their download page both are free but only one is open source. Since I’m not as much as a free software purist I downloaded the binary for Ubuntu Edgy Eft. Installation went well using the command:
sudo dpkg -i VirtualBox_1.3.6_Ubuntu_edgy_i386.deb
It even created an icon in the system tools application menu.

Running

At first I tried using it to run Windows 98. I figured that 98 would use less resources than XP and would run faster. To make a long story short, it didn’t work. I could never get the installation to finish without crashing. Later I find in the documentation that only Windows 2000 and later are supported by Virtual Box.

Well no worries. I added a Windows XP iso and started it installing. It worked beautifully.

Performance

Starting up the VM seams to take a very long time on my P 4 2.6 GHz 512 Mb Ram laptop. I’m guess that my RAM is the limiting factor. 512 has always been sufficient for running Gnome and OpenOffice, leave it up to Windows XP to suck all my RAM. Working with the VM is enjoyable. It is very responsive for the most part, although switching between WinXP and the rest of my Linux programs brings the system to a craw because of all the page swapping it is doing.

USB support

Probably the coolest thing that VirtualBox can do is emulate the host’s usb ports on the Guest OS. This means your USB device that don’t work in Linux can still be used in Windows within Linux. I wanted to use it to do seem edits on my Verizon Razr Cell phone. When I first tried enabling USB support I got a few permission errors.

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