Virtualization is becoming more and more prevalent. Whether you’re running multiple operating systems simultaneously, testing, utilizing snapshots for disaster recovery, or simply looking for infrastructure consolidation, having an ideal virtualization platform is critical. VirtualBox is a free, open-source virtualization software allowing x86 virtualization. VirtualBox may be open-source, but with Oracle as its parent company, it has loads of support. Whether you’re a developer performing testing or just ramping up your experience with other operating systems, VirtualBox likely meets your needs. Run more than one OS simultaneously, without having to reboot to use each OS. VirtualBox is an optimal tool for software vendors as well, giving them the ability to transport entire software configurations (called “appliances”). Individuals with a desire to run fewer physical hardware resources also benefit as they load their various systems onto a VirtualBox virtual machine. You’re likely wondering if VirtualBox will meet your virtualization needs or if you will be forced to go to a paid tool. Read on to check out VirtualBox’s features and discover if it’s a fit.
An excellent open-source option for your VM needs
VirtualBox’s impressive feature set, unique capabilities, and open-source offering make it an attractive virtualization tool.
Getting started with VirtualBox is easy. Installation and setup are quick and seamless. Once you are up and running, easily install any operating system onto your first VM, running alongside your current OS. Diving into VirtualBox’s differentiators right away, the ability to access your files within any virtual machine you create is a huge advantage. With other, large virtualization providers, the process to access your hard drive files within each VM you create is cumbersome. With VirtualBox, the process is seamless and integrated into its native environment. VirtualBox allows simple USB device connection, a feature most other VM programs do not offer, though this feature has been found to have a low transfer rate. Other functionality includes 3D graphic virtualization, seamless windows, guest multiprocessing capabilities, full ACPI support, multiscreen resolutions, built-in iSCSI support, and PXE network reboot.
Take a virtual image of the current state of your system with a 'snapshot'. Snapshots can be created and deleted while the VM is up, making this feature an excellent alternative for system backup or disaster recovery. Users can clone virtual machines through VirtualBox’s wizard. This is helpful when backing up a VM, testing different guest OS levels, and to play around with different VM configurations.
Control your VMs either individually or in groups
Easily contact VirtualBox via the “Contact” link at the bottom of their website. You will be redirected to Oracle’s hots VirtualBox website where you can initiate an online chat, phone call, email, or social media interaction. Here, you’ll also find extensive product information, technical specifications, demo videos, and related content that may be of interest to you. Additional support can be found on VirtualBox’s individual website. Access the VirtualBox community tab and discover community forums where users chat about and help each improve their VirtualBox experience. Subscribe to their mailing list to get up to date system information, updates, and to converse with them directly via email. You can also send security inquiries or report problems via the VirtualBox Community. Early adopters will love the ability to participate in test builds, which helps VirtualBox’s testing efforts, time to market on new releases, and gives users a fun way to participate in the evolution of the product.
Where can you run this program?
VirtualBox can be installed on Windows (7, 8, 8.1, 10, Server 2008 R2, Server 2012, Server 2012 R2, Server 2016, Server 2019), Mac OSX (10.12, 10.13, 10.14), Linux 64-bit (Ubuntu, Debian, Oracle Linux, RHEL 6 and 7, Fedora 28 and 29, Gentoo Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 and 15, openSUSE Leap 42.3 and 15.0), and Oracle 64-bit Solaris 11.
Is there a better alternative?
VirtualBox goes head to head with the industry giant VMware in this comparison. The most comparable VMware product to VirtualBox is VMware Player. Both products are free, however VMware Player is only free for non-commercial clients. Portability is another win for VirtualBox with its ability to spin up multiple VMs in one environment but run them in another environment. The big area VMware Player outshines VirtualBox is in overall reliability. As with my freeware offerings, VirtualBox can be buggy and sporadically slow. VMware states that their Player program has the same level of reliability and stability as their higher product offerings, making it a clear winner here. All in all, any industry professional would agree both of these are excellent, free options for someone new to virtualization or with low maintenance VM needs.
VirtualBox is an excellent tool for hobby or beginner VM users. Its ease of use, wide range of features, and free price point make it appealing. The fact that it’s backed by Oracle lends credibility as well, reassuring users that there is a passionate team and reliable company at the core of this product.
Should you download it?
If you’re a tech professional or just interested in learning more about virtualization, download VirtualBox and enjoy its free functionality. If you really need something more reliable and stable, but are not using it for commercial use, opt for VMware Player. Regardless, VirtualBox is an excellent open-source program with the backing of Oracle, giving you confidence and freedom to spin up VMs cost-free until your heart’s content.
- Open-source product
- Excellent portability
- Backed by Oracle
- Extensive online support
- Being a freeware tool can be buggy sometimes
- Known to have USB identification lag issues