Showing Off Virtual Machines

You may already know that my preferred choice of virtualization is Virtual-Box, why? Is it because I love Open-Source? Not entirely, but that did help my decision. See, even before I used Linux and learned about FOSS (Free Open Source Software, I assume), I searched for a good, powerful virtual machine manager, I tried Virtual PC for like a month, too simple. I tried the new Windows 7 virtual machine thing, too big and didn’t work on my machine, and I even tried Vmware. So let me start off with my experience with Vmware.

I downloaded a trial of Vmware workstation for Linux. Since I use Debian, there was no trouble at all installing it, the folks at Vmware made that easy, and after using for a couple days, with 3d and Aero working on it I was impressed. The virtual machines installed very quickly, just as fast and Virtual-Box, if not faster and I really enjoyed all the networking features it provided. (So it got me thinking, I should do some side-by-side comparison)But one day, on the rare occasions that I rebooted, I couldn’t open any virtuals anymore. Some message about the kernel and system thing, I didn’t pay attention much, but later I found out that every-time I reboot I have to remember to start up the Vmware service so my virtual would work, I fixed it now so i can continue testing, just a little bump in the road.

So Vmware I guess you don’t like Linux do you? At least Linux users, maybe you like Linux admins a bit more. So that’s my take on Vmware, it was good and worked, but not for me. Why? I felt it was a bit too user-friendly, but that’s just me.

Now why VirtualBox, I’ll admit it has a silly name, but it does the job super well, also 80% of my virtual machines are Linux Distros, and VirtualBox just loves Linux, it also works well with Windows virtuals too. And for some reason, on a 2GB machine it just runs nice.

Now to get to the fun stuff, actual testing! My test machine is a 2.8gz Pentium Dual-core, 4 GB ram(recent upgrade), Linux Mint Debian 64bit. All other specs are unnecessary. So now that you know the test rig, I did some testing.  (I used the latest of the two programs at the time of writing, i don’t remeber what they where cause I wrote this post a month ago but forgot to post it.) Now I know that Vmware installs Windows 7 at very fast speeds, and so does Virtualbox, but which is faster? The results are below. Note that both tests were very fair and impartial.

VMware Windows 7 pro install default settings, create VM and install VM additions and load google.com: 13:28

Now for Virtual-Box install Windows 7 pro, default settings, create VM and install VM additions and load google.com: 13:08

As we can see, Virtual-box was the winner! But only by 20 seconds! :( Oh well, still fast enough for me. Also what I beleive is that VMware relied on it’s speed due to it’s default 1 gig of ram and it’s easy user interface. When I created the machine using Vmware there are less buttons to click (which is nice) and you may have noticed that the install is all very automated, when compared to Virtual-Box whose default is 512 RAM, and is not at all automated, this takes time and even may cause a user error in cases like mine. So even with all that Vbox was faster. Good show, good show, Now let’s see how they both install a service pack.

Now the environment. Freshly installed Win 7 Pro with virtual machine additions, the service pack was downloaded from MS as an iso, using Virtual Clone Drive to mount it and run the install, both Virtual Machines were connected to the internet and nothing else was changed.

VMware Win 7 SP1 install: 32:45
Virtual-Box Win 7 SP1 install: 45:02

As we can see it’s almost a 15 minute difference! So I would assume that VMware installs software faster, this may relate to faster speeds to some, but it may have also been to it’s 1GB RAM advantage, so to be fair to Virtual-Box, I ran the test again and upped the RAM 1GB.  The results for virtual box where….. 38:12. Hmm so it’s still slower but ohh well, VMware wins the installation round.

Now I would love to do more tests, but they do take forever. And even though for some reason they install faster than installing on an actual machine, (Somehow) they are still slow.

Well, now that’s about all the time I have today, I will test some more later on in the future but for now, it’s nice to know that the usual “You get what you pay for” doesn’t necessarily apply here. Yes Vbox may not be as user-friendly as Vmware, but it does the job in a no nonsense way, next time, I’ll try Ubuntu and see how fast that is, along with other fair speed tests. But ok please know that I am not trying to prefer one over the other. See for me, Virtual-Box is perfect, due to my heavy Linux Usage, and I’ve noticed that at my tech school everyone sees VMware as King, but mainly becasue they use it for Windows stuff and I agree, for windows I would go with Vmware, but one other problem is that it is a paid product, not free, and even though I could try it out for 30days, mehh, i feel like it’s not enough time to know someone in that time. Also Vmware does not run on a 9 year old P4 laptop with 512 RAM. Go figure.

Side note. Virtual PC is great for people who love Microsoft operating systems and like it’s simplicity. It’s available for Win Xp, Win 7, and and Win 7 Beta (Vista) Vista give a weird warning, but ignore it and it should work. You can even boot from a VHD Virtual Hard Disk using Windows 7 Ultimate. I’ll show you how to do that too, as soon as i get my hands on Ultimate.

Virtual PC

VPC Service Pack 1

Virtual Box The best :) Available for any Operating System you can think of and runs almost anything.

VMware. Must have money, or willing to try out a trial.

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About Zerin

But can you show me the source code?

Posted on March 29, 2011, in Virtualization and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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