VMware VS VirtualBox

Edmund Laugasson ed.lau at mail.ee
Mon Mar 16 10:41:13 UTC 2009

> Can anyone compare and contrast? I would like to use one or the other.
> What is best?

VirtualBox can be installed in Ubuntu very comfortable way and it always works - 
http://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Linux_Downloads - there is repo for ubuntu and other Debian based 
distros to install it through APT. VM Ware Server has also repo but it is not updated very 
frequently and also VM Ware Server development itself is quite slow. VirtualBox has much faster 
development. Probably VM Ware is developing more those commercial versions and free VM Ware Server 
version is not in focus.

For VM Ware and Linux, especially Ubuntu, you can search from Google. Here is one article for 
reading to get picture - http://howtoforge.com/vmware-server-on-ubuntu8.04
This patching script doesn't work always... And if you renew your kernel, then this action needs to 
be repeated. using VirtualBox it works flawlessly - after kernel update and restart just run sudo 
/etc/init.d/vboxdrv setup to recompile new kernel modules and it always succeeded.

After restart make sure you use newly installed kernel. At /boot/grub/menu.lst there is useful to 
have some conf:

## should update-grub adjust the value of the default booted system
## can be true or false
# updatedefaultentry=true

If you need just one kernel at your boot list, then change this at /boot/grub/menu.lst:

## controls how many kernels should be put into the menu.lst
## only counts the first occurence of a kernel, not the
## alternative kernel options
## e.g. howmany=all
##      howmany=7
# howmany=1

There are some prebuilt VM Ware modules for Linux:

VM Ware has true BIOS simulator, VirtualBox doesn't have this. VM Ware Workstation has even virtual 
machine session capture feature into videofile. But using VirtualBox and recordMyDesktop can do 
same. I've done this many times using VirtualBox and recordMyDesktop.

VirtualBox works faster than VM Ware. Free VM Ware Server does not have shared folders feature. 
VirtualBox have this.

Under Linux you need some tweaks to get work USB but it can be done by adding few lines into conf 
file(s) and it works well. Also USB 2.0 works under VirtualBox. In OSE (OpenSource Edition) there 
are some missed features - http://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Editions
So, I need usually full version.

Look here for USB support at VirtualBox under Linux:

Certainly, you can Google for more instructions. But at first look you VirtualBox installation - 
there can be this USB alread work and you don't need add those tweaks.

I used:
# close VirtualBox if it was opened
# sudo nano /etc/init.d/mountdevsubfs.sh
# approx 40. row ("Magic to make /proc/bus/usb work") remove # from following 4 rows:

      mkdir -p /dev/bus/usb/.usbfs
      domount usbfs "" /dev/bus/usb/.usbfs -obusmode=0700,devmode=0600,listmode=0644
      ln -s .usbfs/devices /dev/bus/usb/devices
      mount --rbind /dev/bus/usb /proc/bus/usb

# you can set here also devmode=644, then probably you don't need to add those two lines below into 

# save (F3) and quit (F2)
# sudo /etc/init.d/mountdevsubfs.sh stop
# sudo /etc/init.d/mountdevsubfs.sh start
# sudo /etc/init.d/vboxdrv reload

Also I added following two lines into /etc/rc.local :
VBOX=$(grep vboxusers /etc/group | sed 's/vboxusers:x:\(.*\):.*/\1/')
mount -t usbfs -o devgid=$VBOX,devmode=664,nodev,noexec,nosuid none /proc/bus/usb

Note that in /etc/rc.local there must be the word "exit 0" always the last and always at least one 
empty row at the end.

Then my USB support works flawlessly under Linux and VirtualBox. When I assign USB-stick into 
virtualmachine in configuration dialog, then when I plug in that USB-stick - it will directly work 
under virtual machine.

VirtualBox 2.1.4 has also experimental 3D support. In VM Ware Server I tweaked some conf files to 
get it work but it wasn't stable - next restart and 3D support was lost under VM Ware Server.
VirtualBox 3D support seems to be more stable. More reading about VM Ware 3D support - 

I've used VM Ware Workstation under Linux and Windows several years but now I use VirtualBox, 
because it works faster and frequent updates are coming - development is at good level. Also 
VirtualBox installation especially under Linux works much-much better than VM Ware installation.

VM Ware Server kernel modules are buggy for Linux and it's real pain to get it work. You need to 
patch VM Ware modules and recompile and repack them again, etc. For that you need build-essential 
package and also kernel headers, which adds tons of new packages to your system, which you normally 
don't need. VirtualBox installation over APT works flawlessly and also kernel modules are compiled 
very easily and always succeeded. This reason has been main reason why I took VirtualBox and use it now.

Perhaps under windows there is VM Ware Server easier to install and there is no big difference but 
VirtualBox is lightweight and works faster for me, especially switching between full screen and 
windowed mode.

VM Ware Server needs registration at VM Ware webpage to get free licence keys to install. VirtualBox 
has no licence keys and you can install it right now.

So, VirtualBox has quite much advantages against free VM Ware Server and VirtualBox is also 
completely free and there is also OpenSource Edition of VirtualBox available. VM Ware doesn't give 
almost any source out, if then some small kernel modules.

But as always - it depends all your needs. E.g. VM Ware Server allows to boot operatings systems 
over internet - you can log in as regular user to the Windows PC and run virtual maschine installed 
in there over internet in your PC. I think it should work also under Linux but never tested. It was 
damn slow and has no point, perhaps in internal network.

Best Regards,
Edmund Laugasson

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