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Review of Sun VirtualBox: An Excellent Virtualization Platform

written by: Steve Mallard•edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 5/7/2010
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Want to test a new operating system without reformatting your hard drive? Have an older program or game that will not work on your current operating system? VirtualBox provides one of the best virtualization programs available. Easy to use and setup, VirtualBox is an excellent choice for home users

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    Sun VirtualBox

    Oracle recently acquired Sun Micro Systems. This review is for what is currently Sun VirtualBox, a virtualization program that allows you to run more than one operating system on your computer. VirtualBox is a virtualization application that can be used by home owners or businesses and is provided as a free download.

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    Installation

    Rating Average

    The installation of VirtualBox is straight forward and easy. The download for Microsoft Windows (x86 / AMD) is around 63 mb. VirtualBox is also supported by other major operating systems. With this ability to run on major operating systems, VirtualBox is an excellent easy to use and a powerful virtualization application.

    Before installing an operating system as a guest, you should take into consideration that the host (your main computer) has adequate memory, CPU power and hard drive space.

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    Features and Performance

    Rating Average

    VirtualBox has dozens of options and features found in virtualization software that cost hundreds of dollars.

    Installation of the Operating System

    The installation of an operating system onto VirtualBox is easy. You must have an operating system's ISO (ISOs can be downloaded for many Linux flavors or can be created from Windows' CD/DVD) or the original CD/DVD available. When installing an operating system, the VirtualBox setup wizard (Started by clicking on the New tab) will begin to walk you through the step by step creation of a virtual guest operating system. The wizard will ask for the hard drive size (dynamic or static), memory size along with the name of the operating system. This part of the installation is important in order to balance the resources on the host and guest operating systems.

    After a new operating system description has been added to the wizard and to VirtualBox's menu, you should step through the settings tab and select each item including the CD\DVD or ISO location. Double clicking on the newly created item in the menu will start the operating system as if booting a new computer with the CD\DVD. The operating system will install at this time and you will follow the instructions of the operating system. In order to activate the mouse in the guest operating system, simply double click and the mouse will be captured by the OS. To release the mouse, hit the right 'ctrl' key.

    The instructions for the installation and setup are straight forward and easy. The key to installing an operating system is to be patient and to have a host operating system that has adequate resources. Typically to get the performance that you need to run multiple operating systems 2 Gb of RAM, Dual Core processors and plenty of hard drive space.

    Settings

    The settings features for VirtualBox allows for Remote Desktop (See Bright Hub article), USB and Com Ports, SATA and associated hard drive settings including SCSI, Network settings (See Bright Hub article on Network Settings), CD/DVD and Audio settings. These settings can be used to optimize the guest operating system you are installing and can be modified before or after the initial installation. During the setup of your virtual operating system, you should also decide how the guest computer will be seen on the network (See Bright Hub article on VirtualBox Networking).

    With dozens of features not mentioned in this article, Sun's VirtualBox is an excellent program that performance well.

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    Value and Price

    Rating Average

    The value of virtualization cannot be stressed enough. Virtualization can be used for testing software, adding a small IDS (Intrustion Detection System), programming, add database services and much more. With the number of security applications available, a simple Linux IDS can be setup to protect your home or small business network. Because an IDS uses very little memory and the Virtual OS won't be used to store music, pictures, documents or for everyday use, VirtualBox is perfect for this use. VirtualBox currently is free to download and offers an excellent support forum and community. VirtualBox also offers licensing (See Bright Hub VirtualBox Licensing article) for organizations.

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    Conclusion

    With the many uses that virtualization has, you must also protect these virtualized guest operating systems. Operating system updates, anti-virus and malware protection and firewalls should also be setup along with complex passwords and policies when running a virtualized operating system.

    VirtualBox is an excellent free way to virtualize an operating system on your computer and a free way to discover the advantages of virtualization.