Published May 27, 2012 by Download Software
VirtualBox is a cross-platform virtualization application. What does that mean? For one thing, it installs on your existing Intel or AMD-based computers, whether they are running Windows, Mac, Linux or Solaris operating systems. Secondly, it extends the capabilities of your existing computer so that it can run multiple operating systems (inside multiple virtual machines) at the same time. So, for example, you can run Windows and Linux on your Mac, run Windows Server 2008 on your Linux server, run Linux on your Windows PC, and so on, all alongside your existing applications. You can install and run as many virtual machines as you like — the only practical limits are disk space and memory.
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.
VirtualBox is deceptively simple yet also very powerful. It can run everywhere from small embedded systems or desktop class machines all the way up to datacenter deployments and even Cloud environments.
- Portability. VirtualBox runs on a large number of 32-bit and 64-bit host operating systems (again, see the section called “Supported host operating systems” for details).VirtualBox is a so-called “hosted” hypervisor (sometimes referred to as a “type 2” hypervisor). Whereas a “bare-metal” or “type 1” hypervisor would run directly on the hardware, VirtualBox requires an existing operating system to be installed. It can thus run alongside existing applications on that host.To a very large degree, VirtualBox is functionally identical on all of the host platforms, and the same file and image formats are used. This allows you to run virtual machines created on one host on another host with a different host operating system; for example, you can create a virtual machine on Windows and then run it under Linux.In addition, virtual machines can easily be imported and exported using the Open Virtualization Format (OVF, see the section called “Importing and exporting virtual machines”), an industry standard created for this purpose. You can even import OVFs that were created with a different virtualization software.
- No hardware virtualization required. For many scenarios, VirtualBox does not require the processor features built into newer hardware like Intel VT-x or AMD-V. As opposed to many other virtualization solutions, you can therefore use VirtualBox even on older hardware where these features are not present. The technical details are explained in the section called “Hardware vs. software virtualization”.
- Guest Additions: shared folders, seamless windows, 3D virtualization. The VirtualBox Guest Additions are software packages which can be installed inside of supported guest systems to improve their performance and to provide additional integration and communication with the host system. After installing the Guest Additions, a virtual machine will support automatic adjustment of video resolutions, seamless windows, accelerated 3D graphics and more. The Guest Additions are described in detail in Chapter 4, Guest Additions.In particular, Guest Additions provide for “shared folders”, which let you access files from the host system from within a guest machine. Shared folders are described in the section called “Shared folders”.
- Great hardware support.Among others, VirtualBox supports:
- Guest multiprocessing (SMP). VirtualBox can present up to 32 virtual CPUs to each virtual machine, irrespective of how many CPU cores are physically present on your host.
- USB device support. VirtualBox implements a virtual USB controller and allows you to connect arbitrary USB devices to your virtual machines without having to install device-specific drivers on the host. USB support is not limited to certain device categories. For details, see the section called “USB settings”.
- Hardware compatibility. VirtualBox virtualizes a vast array of virtual devices, among them many devices that are typically provided by other virtualization platforms. That includes IDE, SCSI and SATA hard disk controllers, several virtual network cards and sound cards, virtual serial and parallel ports and an Input/Output Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controller (I/O APIC), which is found in many modern PC systems. This eases cloning of PC images from real machines and importing of third-party virtual machines into VirtualBox.
- Full ACPI support. The Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) is fully supported by VirtualBox. This eases cloning of PC images from real machines or third-party virtual machines into VirtualBox. With its unique ACPI power status support, VirtualBox can even report to ACPI-aware guest operating systems the power status of the host. For mobile systems running on battery, the guest can thus enable energy saving and notify the user of the remaining power (e.g. in fullscreen modes).
- Multiscreen resolutions. VirtualBox virtual machines support screen resolutions many times that of a physical screen, allowing them to be spread over a large number of screens attached to the host system.
- Built-in iSCSI support. This unique feature allows you to connect a virtual machine directly to an iSCSI storage server without going through the host system. The VM accesses the iSCSI target directly without the extra overhead that is required for virtualizing hard disks in container files. For details, see the section called “iSCSI servers”.
- PXE Network boot. The integrated virtual network cards of VirtualBox fully support remote booting via the Preboot Execution Environment (PXE).
- Multigeneration branched snapshots. VirtualBox can save arbitrary snapshots of the state of the virtual machine. You can go back in time and revert the virtual machine to any such snapshot and start an alternative VM configuration from there, effectively creating a whole snapshot tree. For details, see the section called “Snapshots”. You can create and delete snapshots while the virtual machine is running.
- Clean architecture; unprecedented modularity. VirtualBox has an extremely modular design with well-defined internal programming interfaces and a clean separation of client and server code. This makes it easy to control it from several interfaces at once: for example, you can start a VM simply by clicking on a button in the VirtualBox graphical user interface and then control that machine from the command line, or even remotely. See the section called “Alternative front-ends” for details.Due to its modular architecture, VirtualBox can also expose its full functionality and configurability through a comprehensive software development kit (SDK), which allows for integrating every aspect of VirtualBox with other software systems.
- Remote machine display.The VirtualBox Remote Desktop Extension (VRDE) allows for high-performance remote access to any running virtual machine. This extension supports the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) originally built into Microsoft Windows, with special additions for full client USB support.The VRDE does not rely on the RDP server that is built into Microsoft Windows; instead, it is plugged directly into the virtualization layer. As a result, it works with guest operating systems other than Windows (even in text mode) and does not require application support in the virtual machine either. The VRDE is described in detail in the section called “Remote display (VRDP support)”.On top of this special capacity, VirtualBox offers you more unique features:
- Extensible RDP authentication. VirtualBox already supports Winlogon on Windows and PAM on Linux for RDP authentication. In addition, it includes an easy-to-use SDK which allows you to create arbitrary interfaces for other methods of authentication; see the section called “RDP authentication” for details.
- USB over RDP. Via RDP virtual channel support, VirtualBox also allows you to connect arbitrary USB devices locally to a virtual machine which is running remotely on a VirtualBox RDP server; see the section called “Remote USB” for details.
- Operating System: Windows All Version
- Language: English-US
- License: Open Source
- Author: Oracle