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Virtual machine

Edward Ned Harvey <blu-Z8efaSeK1ezqlBn2x/YWAg at> remarked:
> Virtualbox is pretty good for what you get for free.  But it's
> kind of buggy, the performance isn't great, you can't customize
> your "host" key to the point of being useful for me, it's not
> compatible with any other hypervisor...

Ned, are your comments about VirtualBox 3.2.6 or later?  I've moved to that
version since OpenSuSE 11.3 came out a few months ago, and it's lightyears
ahead of what I'd seen in the past.  What I *love* about VirtualBox compared
to others is the command-line utilities to manage virtual machines (the GUI is
pretty good too).  Also, its ease of installation is such that I don't think
any rival could improve on it.

VMware Inc gave up on their Linux desktop version (the one called "VMware
Server") after terrible performance and installation problems with the 2.0
version, so they no longer have a viable product in that category; their
customers are being steered toward bare-metal (ESXi) or Windows hosts.

As for performance, I don't see the issue.  One tip that I have to maximize
VirtualBox performance is this:

Put your virtual disk drives in raw Logical Volumes (LVM)!

When you do this, you get remarkably high disk I/O performance.  On a small
2-disk RAID1 setup, in October I ran benchmarks comparing the host systems
with two client installations (both OpenSuSE 11.3), one installed under the
host's ext4 volume and the other installed on a raw LVM.  The numbers were:

Random I/O:  host 1.619 MB/s; cl-1(fs) 1.521 MB/s; cl-2(lvm) 2.274 MB/s
Sequential:  host 64.675 MB/s; cl-1 35.93 MB/s; cl-2 88.819 MB/s

That's right, the client installed under LVM is *faster* than the host.  I'll
leave it up to the group to repeat my observations and explain why, but this
is my reality on a Core-i5 server with 16GB of RAM and about 8 virtual
machines so far.

As for bugginess of the past, the bugs are fixed.  Period.  Haven't run into
any.  As for compatibility with other hypervisors, the disk images are just
sequences of bytes.  There are in fact specific tools to convert between vdi
and vmdk files (Oracle vs. VMware).  I'm not trying to run multiple
hypervisors on a single host so I'm not concerned about run-time

I've also been able to script my own VM creation to fully automate tasks that
under VMware Server with its clunky vSphere GUI would easily take 20-30
minutes of error-prone manual work.  This stuff is just a lot smoother and

Unless there is a specific feature you need that's present in some other
virtualization manager but lacking in VirtualBox, I see no reason to look
beyond the free version of VirtualBox.

I'm not often this gushing and effusive about a technology product; most have
significant downsides.  Not VirtualBox.


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