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back to article Sun tunes its VirtualBox

The most popular virtualization tool distributed by Sun Microsystems - and one whose future as an Oracle product is in question - is VirtualBox, and the software was just updated with a new 3.0.8 release. Version 3.0 of VirtualBox - which is a type 2 or hosted hypervisor that runs atop an operating system such as Solaris, Linux …

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Anonymous Coward

OpenSolaris / xVM / Apps

"... commercial-grade applications have not been put through the same rigorous testing [on OpenSolaris] that those apps get on Solaris."

Since the context is OpenSolaris-as-VM-layer, this is not relevant, since apps aren't run in the VM layer; they run in the guest OS.

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Pint

Could someone please tell me:

Has anyone ever heard anything about someone implementing Oracle's VM offering? I haven't. BTW if it wasn't for El' Reg i wouldn't even know it existed! Virtualbox with all its faults is better known than Oracle's so Larry would be a complete moron to just cast it aside. He may keep it around just to poke VMware with a half hearted "free" desktop alternative.

Got more drink'in to do

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Happy

Great VM, with some very silly oversights!

Considering how bad it used to be, VB is damn good VM hoster now. I love using it on both Linux and OSX hosts for virtualising Oracle RAC clusters.

However, the virtual disk management inside VB is absolutely awful! Unlike VMWare, where you can simply clone a VM fileset on the host using standard O/S commands, with VB you have to use their tools to clone the disks, if you don't you will not be able to clone VMs at all. Very annoying when you have just copied a 40GB VM and it comes up and says it cannot be used!

If they want to make any headway on the desktop, which personally I don't think they seem to, they need to sort out the ease of use features like easy cloning like VMWare.

Still at the price you pay for VB, you can't really grumble!

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not until Solaris 11?

Tim the thing that you missed here is that Sun is selling Enterprise support on the 6 monthly releases of OpenSolaris. That includes the metal contracts. That support contract gives you the same level of support on OpenSolaris and the support repository that you purchase on Solaris 10.

Alan.

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Flame

Why break a good product?

VirtualBox is an excellent Type 2 supervisor. Why spoil a perfectly good product trying to break into a saturated market? It is generally better than Xen (time to duck to avoid flames) as a desktop virtualisation product. If used on a Linux host it definitely feels faster and more responsive - on par with Vmware. It can continue to be better than Xen on the desktop and be the viable competition to Vmware for that market. Why, oh why screw it trying to break into the "bare metal" market where it is not going to succeed anyway?

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Silver badge

Any more Answers ...?

"Another question: will someone pick up VirtualBox and take it the next step and create a type 1, or bare metal, hypervisor based on VirtualBox?"

You can bet the Casino and Foxy Furs on that Sure Fire Certain Bet ..... Virtual Reality.

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Boffin

Is it as fast as VMware yet?

Last time I ran Solaris under VirtualBox, it performed like a slug - even booting from a DVD image stored on my hard disk took several minutes, and I'm talking about whether I wanted to install over console, console in X, or full GUI, etc - not picking package cluster, hostname, IP address, etc. Running the same image under VMware, on the other hand, got me there in seconds. I felt I was being generous, too, by running Solaris of all OSes, under VirtualBox.

Until VirtualBox doesn't feel like I'm trying to emulate an Amiga 500 on a 386, I won't be taking it very seriously.

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Silver badge
Stop

Not quite so!

"...IBM certainly needs one for the X64 platforms it sells, and so does Hewlett-Packard...." IMHO, not really. Both IBM and hp have virtualising products for their proprietary UNIX ranges (and in IBM's case, mainframe is virtualisation!), and for their x64 range they have wisely chosen the simpler path of running with the market-leading ESX (with lots of services) whilst also offering products from M$ and the general Linux community (with more services). As such, I fail to see how having a dedicated product of their own would be anything other than a hinderance. You can see that hp have already decided this in that they have concetrated on software that builds on top of the generic virtualising tools to ease deployment and management, rather than trying to go head-to-head with them.

Meanwhile, Oracle had nothing to lose in going head-to-head, indeed they had to as Red Hat had their own virtualisation developments which meant Oracle had to match it in order to at least make OL appear to be the RHEL replacement they claim it is. Sun's decision to go with a virtualisation tool was more due to Slowaris being poorly represented in such market-leadng products as VMware's, plus their historic antagonistic approach to anything from the Linux community. So now the Slowaris crowd are stuck with a hosted virtualisation tool, and if they manage to get a bare-metal version out of the door they'll still be years behind the rest of the market. I actually think Virtualbox is a good bit of tech, but Oracle's VM Server is further ahead and I'd be surprised if we don't see Virtualbox dropped the minute VM Server has full Slowaris support. Maybe Larry will rechristen VM Server to something like Oracle Virtualbox VM.

I'm sure the Sunshiners are just going to hyperventilate about this being just another bit of Sun-bashing, but it's just an honest look at the market the product is in.

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Silver badge

Great VM product

I used to use VMWare workstation but I got sick of the crappy user interface, the mysterious issues it had with timing loops on Linux and other assorted nonsense.

VirtualBox has worked out of the box and is an extremely pleasant product to use. The emulation also seems very responsive, no doubt in part because it takes advantage of virtualization functionality in the hardware. Now I'm not some enterprise customer, just a guy who needs to fire up a VM from time to time. I have Ubuntu running over Windows 7 and the peformance is quite acceptable for development work. So far VirtualBox fits the bill perfectly.

Maybe if I had to run a multiple instances of these things and remotely administer them I'd have a different opinion, but so far it's all been positive.

What amazes me about virtualization is that only a few years ago you'd have to pay a small fortune for a proper VM solution (as opposed to an emulator like QEMU). These days they're being handed out like candy. VirtualBox is mostly GPL too which means that even if Oracle did can the project that the thing isn't going to die. That is another strong plus for it over its competitors.

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Anonymous Coward

Running Windows on OSX

Works great. Cheaper than Parallels.

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Bronze badge

@Great VM, with some very silly oversights

file: export appliance...

<disk grinds, then>

file: import appliance...

Documented in the help.

To others: VBox is entirely usable, but enterprise? you must be mad. It's still a toy. It's totally bombed my host three times this year times and weirdly glitched host & guest too often to trust it.

Usable, certainly, big-iron reliable, no.

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Production use

Echo the "you must be mad" comment. We used it for a few years to virtualize some linux boxes on an 8-core machine, but in the end the inability to assign more than one core to a host and have theVM remain stable was it's undoing. We switched to KVM hosting using the very excellent (and also free) Proxmox, and things are now running beautifully.

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Linux

VBox good, getting better

I'm running WindowsXP in a VBox VM on Fedora 11, and like it. I'd never been able to make USB devices work correctly, however. After upgrading VBox to 3.0.8, the USB problem has magically disappeared.

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Go

Virtual Box, xVM Server, LDoms, Zones, Xen, and such...

Author writes, "Like the commercial xVM Server was supposed to be in relation to commercial Solaris 10. And before you send comments to El Reg, I know that xVM has been embedded in the latter releases of OpenSolaris and that technically you can get tech support for OpenSolaris."

OpenSolaris is the production operating system shipped in Sun's Open Storage appliances. If people are happy with compiling & running Linux in their production environments, OpenSolaris should be OK. For companies that don't run Linux, I agree that waiting for xVM Server to be released in Solaris 11 may be a reasonable plan. Nearly everyone is running Linux, though - not sure who really need to wait until Solaris 11.

Author writes, "Does the world need another bare metal hypervisor? IBM certainly needs one for the X64 platforms it sells, and so does Hewlett-Packard, which has software aspirations. Dell doesn't seem to want a software business, but having its own low-cost (or free) hypervisor and services to sell might be an attractive idea."

If IBM, HP, and Dell want to compete in the commercial market place for Intel/AMD based proprietary servers on price point, then yes, they may be interested in their own bare metal hypervisors. Without bare metal hypervisors, their prices start to rise when comparing their systems to competitors.

Xen is free, not sure what they need with the exception of a few resources on the sub-continent or in the far-east. They could always bundle OpenSolaris with xVM.

Author writes, "Novell needs a free-standing and open source hypervisor that is not Xen or KVM. Maybe Oracle can sell it for a few bucks?"

Sun Virtual box is free - not certain why Novell would want to buy the product group. Not sure what they need with the exception of a marketing engine. Kind of like how Sun OpenOffice, Sun Java, and Sun MySQL is just about everywhere in the Open Source world. Sun is doing the heavy lifting for their competitors, right now.

- - -

I am really surprised that people have not realized the benefits of a hypervisor running under [Open]Solaris yet.

The benefits of xVM Server on OpenSolaris are absolutely astounding in comparison to the competition - ZFS support for unparalleled virtual machine cloning speed, ZFS snapshort for unparalleled (try doing on-line hourly backups for a couple of years) virtual machine backups, ZFS with flash support for terrific disk performance, ZFS & COMSTAR for no-cost (and no additional management software) replication of the entire environment to another standby system with internal disks, DTrace for superb resource debugging on production over-laying operating system support, no-cost acquisition for initial experimentation, paid support for production deployment.

Running VirtualBox on Solaris 10 or OpenSolaris gives most of the same capabilities as Sun xVM Server - perhaps the supported disk sizing is capabilities are different between VB and xVM, I am curious about the performance differences.

LDom's and Zones in conjunction with Sun OpsCenter seems fairly nice. Automatic load balancing of applications across clusters using pools of LDom's is very nice, it would be nice to see xVM Server support in the future. I was unaware of how extensive the cross-platform integrations possible with third-party vendors with OpsCenter until I read:

http://blogs.sun.com/barrettblog/entry/oracle_openworld_2009

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Anonymous Coward

RE:Not quite so! #

The reason for VB is not nearly so melodramatic.

Vmware is a proprietary x86-only product. Sun needed something that would run on X86/AMD/Sparc.

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@Oliver Jones

Ive tried to install OpenSolaris in VirtualBox and it absolutely sucked. The performance was abysmal. However, Ive also installed Linux and Windows and there were no problems at all. Performance was very good.

I suggest you try VirtualBox again, but with another OS than OpenSolaris. I am sure you will be pleased with the performance. Many people say that it is faster than VMware.

PS. VirtualBox now uses several CPUs. And also supports 3D graphics, albeit rudimentary. Both OpenGL and DX.

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Big Brother

VB

Well I run VB on my laptop, my host OS is a RHEL and I have a XP running inside VB. And it just works like a charm. Most of the apps that I run inside the XP are quite IO intensive with sync IO and they benefit from the fact that my Linux caches the VB disk file, hence they run faster than on the bare metal XP, that I have in another disk partition.

And as Antov Ivanov wrote:

" VirtualBox is an excellent Type 2 supervisor."

And I couldn't agree more, but SUN needs to start to make some money on this product.

// Jesper

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Bronze badge
Coat

VB is much better than vmw, pause/resume time, anyone?

Just take a vmware vm:

Start it, do some stuff - open a few apps inside like email, browser, ideally some resource hungry app as well. Check the time vmw takes to pause/resume the vm (for resume testing, make sure the vm reacts instantly to your instructions - that is when it is fully resumed) and shut the guest OS down.

Open the same vm with vb (you do not even have to convert the virtual disk) ... do you also get 5:1 in favour of vb, like me?

Oh, and the progress bar down the bottom right does count for vmw ... it is soooo uncool to try a fool the user into believing the vm is resumed when it is not ... suckers.

I have used vmware since v3, and pause/resume used to be much faster in older versions, do not know what they have done to make it slower .... maybe that is why vmw profits have gone down?

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