Virtualbox 2.0 is out

For those who have never used it, Virtualbox is Virtual Machine software from Sun Microsystems, who bought the previous owners, innoTek Gmbh. While my experience with VM software is not extensive, I’ve used a few programs on a Windows host and I’m pretty impressed with Virtualbox. VMWare was, by comparision much much slower, although this may have changed in more recent editions. I also hated how tightly into the OS VMWare wove itself. Uninstalling it has broken several computers of mine and resulted in days of trying to unbreak its grip on my network adapter. (Trying to remove the virtual adapters from the MAC bridge when VMWare was no longer installed). In comparision to VB, MS Virtual PC appears to be lacking features – or at least an interface, and plainly has no design to support anything but Windows with boot options of “Windows 95, 98, NT, 2000, XP, Vista and OTHER”. It isn’t surprising, given that they sell Windows, but I can’t help but wonder how effective it can really be for non-windows, which at the moment is my thing since I’m running Windows as the host OS.

Virtualbox gives a nice range of features and appears pretty fast. 2.0 is no exception, appearing to most fix a few gotchas which never bit me. My only complaint about it is that aperiodically I’ve found that the clipboard will break. This is from Windows as a HostOS to CentOS and Fedora 8 as guest OS’s. You’ll be typing along and suddenly the clipboard won’t work, for Windows or in the guestOS and you end up needing to restart the Vbox to clear it.

I’ve yet to see any information explaining what is happening, but what I suspect is happening is that an event is being lost on the client end and this ties up the entire clipboard because Windows doesn’t get the acknowledgement that the event was processed. I did once see an error message from the Xserver about it dropping events so this seems to be a reasonable guess.

My solution to this has been to work around it and instead of using X directly on the console of the Vbox to connect to it via Nomachine’s NX client. This no only gives me the equivalent of “screen” under X, with the ability to disconnect and reconnect later, but I’ve never had the clipboard cross-over screw up. Which is really handy.

So if you haven’t already tried it but you’d like to, or you’d like to try VM’s and don’t know where to start, or you’re looking to try Linux, but are too addicted to your Windows apps to be logged out of your computer, Virtualbox will be great for you.

As for choice in Linuxes, well I’ve going with Fedora 8 and CentOS 5.2. Personally I’ve been concerned about the direction of Fedora, especially with its “pump a new version out every few months” attitude, (as opposed to putting out something decent). I did try Fedora 9 from the live CD and it sucked, especially when compaired to F8. F8 has, so far, been a pinnacle in the Fedora for me. By comparison CentOS 5.2 appears to have a very strong stable base, and ever bit as usable for a desktop OS as a server OS. As a quick comparison when running under Virtualbox in order to be able to have a graphical resolution which matches my windows box (which is only 1280px by 1024px, so nothing to write home about) Fedora 8 requires you allocate 32Mb of memory for graphics, but CentOS 5.2 requires only 16Mb. I think it says something about F8.