Virtualization is something that those of us in the Information Technology sector have known about and implemented for years now. A typical virtualization implementation in IT would be a bare-metal hypervisor running VMware’s vSphere (formerly ESXi) or Microsoft’s Hyper-V Server. While these are great applications for production environments, virtualization can also be useful for more small-scale applications, for instance: testing out a new Operating System. This is where a desktop (or type-2) hypervisor can come in handy.
There are many type-2 hypervisor’s available for free out there (VMware player comes to mind), but for this purpose, it’s hard to beat Oracle’s VirtualBox. Whenever a new Windows version is released, or there’s a new Linux distribution on the scene, I fire up VirtualBox and within minutes I have it up and running in a fresh Virtual Machine. It’s just so quick and easy to get a VM setup in VirtualBox.
Now, that’s not to say it is not completely without flaw — there is some weirdness that can arise with drivers or display resolutions that may require the use of the CLI (vboxmanage) or editing the VM’s XML file to resolve, which can get pretty tricky. However, this is not really necessary for quick OS test drives or lab environments, which is where VirtualBox really shines. Best of all it’s free and open-source!
Check back on Fridays for more awesome free software recommendations from Netris.
Brian Dunham is a Cisco and Microsoft certified network and systems engineer with over a decade of experience in the Information Technology field. When he is not in front of a computer he can be found out in the wilderness canoing, hiking, fishing, or camping.