Wednesday, September 29, 2010

VirtualBox – An open source tool for virtualization--- professional, flexible, open

Virtual Box is a general-purpose full virtualizer for x86 hardware. Targeted at server, desktop and embedded use, it is now the only professional-quality virtualization solution that is also Open Source Software. 
 
VirtualBox is an open source software developed and maintained by Sun Micro systems which is now owner by ORACLE. The main aim is to provide a virtual environment for running guest operating systems. Which means you can run a different operating system inside your current operating system.
 
It is meant for those people who just love to experiment new things on their PC but are afraid of making any accidental damages to their system. You can also use the .vmdk image files which are created using the VMWare software. Virtual Box can be installed on Linux, Windows, Mac OS X and Solaris platforms.
 
The important part to note here is the settings of this software. You can limit the amount of RAM to be used by this software. Set it to the 3/4th of what you have in your PC. So that you can run other softwares simultaneously without much trouble.  By default when you click on the VirtualBox windows the mouse control is transferred to the guest OS. To use the mouse for the actual OS use the right ctrl key. You will learn more as you start using this software.
VirtualBox is an Open source software and is available for Windows, Linux and Mac systems. You can download the latest version of VirtualBox from the link given below.
 
http://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads


Some of the features of VirtualBox are:
  • Modularity. VirtualBox has an extremely modular design with well-defined internal programming interfaces and a client/server design. This makes it easy to control it from several interfaces at once: for example, you can start a virtual machine in a typical virtual machine GUI and then control that machine from the command line, or possibly remotely. VirtualBox also comes with a full Software Development Kit: even though it is Open Source Software, you don't have to hack the source to write a new interface for VirtualBox.
  • Virtual machine descriptions in XML. The configuration settings of virtual machines are stored entirely in XML and are independent of the local machines. Virtual machine definitions can therefore easily be ported to other computers.
  • Guest Additions for Windows, Linux and Solaris. VirtualBox has special software that can be installed inside Windows, Linux and Solaris virtual machines to improve performance and make integration much more seamless. Among the features provided by these Guest Additions are mouse pointer integration and arbitrary screen solutions (e.g. by resizing the guest window). There are also guest additions for OS/2 with somewhat reduced functionality.
  • Shared folders. Like many other virtualization solutions, for easy data exchange between hosts and guests, VirtualBox allows for declaring certain host directories as "shared folders", which can then be accessed from within virtual machines.
A number of extra features are available with the full VirtualBox release only (see the "Editions" page for details):
  • Virtual USB Controllers. VirtualBox implements a virtual USB controller and allows you to connect arbitrary USB devices to your virtual machines without having to install device specific drivers on the host.
  • Remote Desktop Protocol. Unlike any other virtualization software, VirtualBox fully supports the standard Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). A virtual machine can act as an RDP server, allowing you to "run" the virtual machine remotely on some thin client that merely displays the RDP data.
  • USB over RDP. With this unique feature, a virtual machine that acts as an RDP server can still access arbitrary USB devices that are connected on the RDP client. This way, a powerful server machine can virtualize a lot of thin clients that merely need to display RDP data and have USB devices plugged in.
 

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