VirtualBox 5 – it remains a useful tool rather than a replacement…

virtualboxVirtualBox 5 is out of a somewhat short beta and its essence seems to have not really changed. It’s still a great tool but no Hyper-V / BootCamp / Parallels replacement….

In brief if you’ve used it before then you will see five new features. All of which are good.

  1. Paravirtualization Support for Windows and Linux Guests: Significantly improves guest OS performance by leveraging built-in virtualization support on operating systems such as Oracle Linux 7 and Microsoft Windows 7 and newer.
  2. Improved CPU Utilization: Exposes a broader set of CPU instructions to the guest OS, enabling applications to make use of the latest hardware instruction sets for maximum performance.
  3. Support of USB 3.0 Devices: Guest operating systems can directly recognize USB 3.0 devices and operate at full 3.0 speeds. The guest OS can be configured to support USB 1.1, 2.0, and 3.0.
  4. Bi-Directional Drag and Drop Support for Windows: On all host platforms, Windows, Linux and Oracle Solaris guests now support “drag and drop” of content between the host and the guest. The drag and drop feature transparently allows copying or opening of files, directories, and more.
  5. Disk Image Encryption: Data can be encrypted on virtual hard disk images transparently during runtime, using the industry standard AES algorithm with up to 256 bit data encryption keys (DEK). This helps ensure data is secure and encrypted at all times, whether the VM is sitting unused on a developer’s machine or server, or actively in use.

Useful links:

Virtualbox: the ‘correct’ way to clone machines.

I recently had to clone a virtual machine and did my usual copy and paste. Not the best idea. Virtualbox, my preferred virtualization solution, definitely did not like that approach as each machine image has its own uuid which is stored in the actual image… The right way to do it is with the clonehd tool. That said, if the uuid is ‘in’ the file in theory it should be editable and when I have time I intend to test that theory out.

The actual steps to clone a machine on a windows (concept is the same for FreeBSD and OS X) host are as follows.

  1. Open a Command Prompt window on the host machine.
  2. Change to the VirtualBox VDI directory (you do know where your images are…? and you know what spindle contention is…?)
  3. Run the VBoxManage command with clonevdi command option. The following example shows the creation of a copy of Server_2008.vdi named Server_2008_Base.vdi.

“C:Program FilesSunxVM VirtualBoxVBoxManage.exe” clonevdi “Server_2008.vdi”

Which then produces a not very informative dialogue box…

VirtualBox Command Line Management Interface Version 2.0.4 (C) 2005-2008 Sun Microsystems, Inc. All rights reserved.


And that’s it.

VirtualBox 3.1

Monday was a good day for VirtuaBox. With the 3.1 release, live migration and radically improved snapshot abilities amongst others confirm my confidence in this solution to which I migrated all my virtual machines to this year. I chose VirtualBox as my new preferred standard as it was simple, unbloated, and multiplatform.

Live Migration aka Teleportation in VirtualBox allows one to move virtualized guest environments from one physical computer to another while the guest environment is still running. Minor for desktop users, major for data centers as it allows on the fly physical resource workload management. Right now it is limited as:

  1. It is only invokable via the command line
  2. Disk images must reside on shared storage
  3. Identical VM configurations must exist at source and destination
  4. Intel to AMD chipset moves are a bad idea

Snapshots now supports branching. A massive convenience indeed…

Download the latest versionhere: