An Overview of Virtualization Solutions - Solutions Overview, continued
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Moving on, weíre going to present another virtualization product. It all started back in 2003 when Microsoft acquired Connectix. The latter company specialized in virtualization ever since it was founded in 1988. Microsoft started developing their Virtual PC right after this acquisition. It is a free solution provided by Microsoft.
In comparison with the virtualization solution presented earlier, Virtual PC 2007 (the latest version right now is 2007, and comes with SP1) offers official support only for Microsoft Windows operating systems, even though certain Linux distributions are known to worth with it just fine.
Virtual PC has some unique features such as drag-and-drop capability, dynamic screen resolution, clipboard sharing, optimized video drivers, time synchronization with the host OS (this way accuracy can be maintained), and also file transfer between the guest and host operating systems. This is possible because both operating systems are developed by Microsoft, i.e.; Windows; therefore itís all proprietary and easy for them.
The next solution weíre going to introduce here is called VirtualBox and comes from Sun xVM. It is the only professional-quality virtualization solution that has remained totally open source. Itís a full virtualizer just like any of the previously mentioned products. It is much more interesting than the earlier ones because it comes from the open source community, while the professional team lead by Sun checks its quality.
The key points of this application lies in its size; itís barely around 35MB at the time of writing. It supports as host the following operating systems: Windows XP/Vista, Linux, Mac OS X, OS/2 Warp, and Solarisóthis means it runs on these OSes. Moreover, itís able to emulate the enumerated list of operating systems, but also BSD.
Furthermore, it also has a really astonishing set of features: USB support (with remote devices over RDP), clipboard, snapshots, shared folders, RDP (remote desktop), iSCSI support, NCQ support for SATA drives, Microsoft VHD, remote display, nested paging, support for the VMware format (VMDK images) and also Virtual PCís format, command line interface, and public API. The last feature in particular means that it can be developed further.
VirtualBox is currently considered to be the third most popular virtualization solution (coming after VMware and Microsoft Virtual PC); however, this might change. Itís also the newest as well. Keep in mind that Sun Microsystems has acquired Innotek (February, 2008).
VirtualBox emulates a Vesa 8MB video card; thus, 3D graphic acceleration isnít possible with this solution either. Apparently, though, the development team is working heavily on 3D virtualization along with live migration, and some other fancy functions. The beauty of VirtualBox is that it also virtualizes a wide range of Ethernet cards and up to four networks can be attached simultaneously. USB is also supported seamlessly.
To sum up, we recommend that you take your time trying out the solutions that were presented in this article. They are considered to be within the Top Three. However, should you still feel the need to look into the topic of virtualization then please do so. Weíre wholeheartedly recommending the following three sources: About Microsoft Virtualization, VirtualBox Technical Documentation and VMware Documentation Section.
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