Alternative to VMware – VirtualBox is a Cheaper and efficient solution in Ubuntu

VMware is a leading virtualization solution to run multiple operating systems in a machine. Though it has tightly packed features in its pocket, still it is costlier and proprietary too. In the world of open source, there is an alternative to VMware which is called VirtualBox.

VirtualBox is a powerful x86 and AMD64/Intel64 virtualization product for enterprise as well as home use. Not only is VirtualBox an extremely feature rich, high performance product for enterprise customers, it is also the only professional solution that is freely available as Open Source Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL).

It is a cheaper virtualization solution than VMware. Apart from the cost it has a nice GUI to manage the virtual machines and also it supports wide range of operating systems. Virtualbox can run in Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and OpenSolaris and also it supports most guest operating systems except Mac OS X. Let’s see how to get it done in Ubuntu. My Ubuntu system is 10.04 Lucid.


Installation is straight forward – Ubuntu main menu -> Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal. Enter the following command to get Virtualbox installed in your machine.

$ sudo apt-get install virtualbox-ose
Now you should see Applications -> Accessories -> VirtualBox OSE menu item. Click this to start your Virtual Machine manager.


The following screenshots shows how to create a virtual machine for Windows 7 for example.

Click New icon to create a virtual machine

Creating a new virtual machine - wizard
Selecting which operating system you are going to run

Selecting RAM size for virtual machine
Creating hard disk for your virtual machine
Virtual disk creation wizard
Selecting size of disk
Confirming disk configuration

This should create a virtual machine suitable for Windows 7 installation. Now you configure this machine by selecting Settings button on top tool bar. You can select your DVD drive to map to virtual machine DVD drive. Insert Windows 7 installation disc in your machine. Start virtual machine (ensure that DVD drive is selected first in boot order in settings dialog) to start with Windows 7 installation.

Typical virtual machine configured for MeeGo Linux

I have installed MeeGo Linux in one such virtual machine. The below screenshot shows a typical configuration for this.

Typical configuration for MeeGo Linux (click to enlarge)
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  1. I’ve tried switching to VB from VMWare Workstation about six months ago, but two things have stopped me:

    – how do I convert/read my VMWare images, so that I can either use VB exclusively or go back and for forth between them (for work)?

    – I prefer keep my images in 2 GB files. I don’t remember now whether this was an option in VB.

    Also, running VB under both Ubuntu 32 bit (but with the kernel that allowed each process ot have up to 4 GB of memory) and Win XP (32 bit), VB would crash every day or so. As such, I found it not reliable enough.

    If there were a simple solution to the first issue I’d ry switching again, but I feel like I need compatibility with VMWare for now.

    BTW: I also like the chroot article, and bookmarked it for later reference.

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