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Carlos Abad Molinero
Carlos Abad Molinero

VirtualBox vs Other Virtualization Products: A Comparison of Features, Benefits and Costs


What is VirtualBox and why you should use it




If you want to run multiple operating systems on your computer without having to reboot or partition your hard drive, you might want to try VirtualBox. VirtualBox is a powerful, cross-platform, open source, and free virtualization software that lets you create and run virtual machines on your host computer. In this article, we will explain what VirtualBox is, what are its features and benefits, and how to install and use it.




virtualbox



What is VirtualBox




VirtualBox is a software that allows you to create virtual machines (VMs) on your host computer. A VM is a simulated computer that runs inside your host computer, using its resources such as CPU, RAM, disk space, and network. You can install any operating system (OS) on a VM, such as Windows, Linux, macOS, or Solaris, and run any applications that are compatible with that OS. You can also switch between different VMs easily, without having to reboot or affect your host OS.


Features and benefits of VirtualBox




VirtualBox has many features and benefits that make it a popular choice for virtualization. Here are some of them:


Cross-platform compatibility




VirtualBox can run on Windows, Linux, macOS, and Solaris hosts, and support a large number of guest OSes, including but not limited to Windows (NT 4.0, 2000, XP, Server 2003, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10), DOS/Windows 3.x, Linux (2.4, 2.6, 3.x and 4.x), Solaris and OpenSolaris, OS/2, and OpenBSD. This means you can use VirtualBox to test or run different OSes on your computer without having to buy or install them separately.


Open source and free




VirtualBox is an open source software that is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 3. This means you can use it for personal, educational or evaluation purposes for free. You can also modify or distribute it as long as you follow the terms of the license. If you need professional support or additional features, you can also buy the Oracle VM VirtualBox Enterprise license from Oracle.


High performance and rich functionality




VirtualBox is designed to provide high performance and rich functionality for virtualization. It supports hardware virtualization technologies such as Intel VT-x and AMD-V, which improve the speed and stability of VMs. It also supports features such as snapshots, clones, shared folders, drag and drop, USB passthrough, seamless mode, 3D acceleration, multi-monitor support, encryption, remote desktop protocol (RDP), virtual network computing (VNC), headless mode, etc., which enhance the usability and security of VMs.


How to install and use VirtualBox




Installing and using VirtualBox is easy and straightforward. Here are the steps:


Downloading and installing VirtualBox




To download VirtualBox, you need to visit the official website or the Oracle Technology Network and choose the right version for your host OS. You can also download the extension pack, which adds additional features such as USB 2.0/3.0 support, or the guest additions, which improve the integration between host and guest OSes.


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Virtualbox guest additions: what are they and how to use them


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How to migrate a virtual machine from vmware to virtualbox or vice versa


VirtualBox command line interface: how to use it and what are the commands


To install VirtualBox, you need to run the installer file that you downloaded and follow the instructions on the screen. You may need to restart your computer after the installation is complete. You can also install the extension pack and the guest additions by double-clicking on the downloaded files and following the instructions on the screen.


Creating and managing virtual machines




To create a virtual machine, you need to launch VirtualBox and click on the "New" button on the toolbar. You will be asked to enter a name for your VM, choose the type and version of the guest OS, and allocate some memory and disk space for it. You can also customize other settings such as network, display, audio, storage, etc., by clicking on the "Settings" button on the toolbar.


To start a virtual machine, you need to select it from the list on the left side of the VirtualBox window and click on the "Start" button on the toolbar. You will see a new window that shows the boot screen of the guest OS. You can then install or run the guest OS as you would on a normal computer. You can also switch between different VMs by clicking on their windows or using keyboard shortcuts.


To stop a virtual machine, you need to select it from the list on the left side of the VirtualBox window and click on the "Stop" button on the toolbar. You will be asked to choose how to power off your VM. You can either save its state, which will allow you to resume it later from where you left off, or shut it down, which will close it gracefully. You can also pause, reset, or close your VM by clicking on other buttons on the toolbar.


To manage your virtual machines, you can use the "Machine" menu on the top of the VirtualBox window. You can perform various actions such as taking snapshots, cloning, exporting, importing, or deleting your VMs. You can also access the "Virtual Media Manager" from this menu, which allows you to manage your virtual disks and optical drives.


Sharing files and devices between host and guest




One of the advantages of using VirtualBox is that you can share files and devices between your host and guest OSes. Here are some ways to do that:


Sharing folders




You can share folders between your host and guest OSes by using the "Shared Folders" feature of VirtualBox. To do this, you need to select your VM from the list on the left side of the VirtualBox window and click on the "Settings" button on the toolbar. Then, go to the "Shared Folders" section and click on the "+" icon to add a new shared folder. You will be asked to choose a folder from your host OS and assign a name and access mode for it. You can also enable auto-mounting and make it permanent if you want. After that, you need to start your VM and install or enable the guest additions if you haven't done so already. Then, you will be able to access your shared folder from your guest OS as a network drive or a mount point.


Drag and drop




You can drag and drop files between your host and guest OSes by using the "Drag and Drop" feature of VirtualBox. To do this, you need to select your VM from the list on the left side of the VirtualBox window and click on the "Settings" button on the toolbar. Then, go to the "General" section and click on the "Advanced" tab. There, you will see a drop-down menu for "Drag and Drop". You can choose between "Disabled", "Host to Guest", "Guest to Host", or "Bidirectional" modes. After that, you need to start your VM and install or enable the guest additions if you haven't done so already. Then, you will be able to drag and drop files between your host and guest OSes by using your mouse.


USB passthrough




You can use USB devices such as flash drives, cameras, printers, etc., on your guest OS by using the "USB Passthrough" feature of VirtualBox. To do this, you need to select your VM from the list on the left side of the VirtualBox window and click on the "Settings" button on the toolbar. Then, go to the "USB" section and check the box for "Enable USB Controller". You can also choose between USB 1.1, 2.0, or 3.0 modes depending on your device and host OS. After that, you need to start your VM and install or enable the guest additions if you haven't done so already. Then, you will see a USB icon on the b


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