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What's New with VirtualBox?

Last week, I had the honor of being one of the guests on the inaugural Virtumania podcast. On the show we had Rich Brambley, Sean Clark (the guy with the hat) and Mark Farley. Our topic was the VirtualBox hypervisor and what Oracle has in store with that and virtualization in general. Rich and I are avid users of VirtualBox in the Type 2 hypervisor space, and it was a good place to discuss how we use VirtualBox and where it fits in the marketplace. Here is a quick rundown of version 3.1.4 that have rolled into the product recently:

  • Teleporation: This is a big one, as VirtualBox is the only Type 2 hypervisor that provides a live migration feature.
  • Paravirtualized network driver: VirtualBox can have a guest virtual machine have a non-virtualized network hardware interface for Linux (2.6.25+) and select Windows editions.
  • Arbitrary snapshots: This allows a virtual machine to be restored to any snapshot downstream, as well as new snapshots taken from other snapshots (called "branched snapshots" in VirtualBox).
  • 2D hardware video acceleration: VirtualBox has always been somewhat ahead of the curve in multimedia support, and version 3.1 introduces support for Windows VMs to use hardware acceleration. The 3.0 release already added OpenGL 2.0 and Direct 3D support.

I still use VirtualBox extensively for my desktop hypervisor, but as far as what Oracle has in store for the end product, we don't yet know. We know that there is some form of product consolidation plans with Oracle VM in the works, but what specifically will be the end result is anyone's guess.

What we know for sure is that VirtualBox still is a good Type 2 hypervisor, and Oracle and company want to do more with virtualization. The polish and footprint in enterprises that Oracle and Sun have together are attractive. Consider further that the combined companies can provide servers, storage, hypervisors and operating systems. How much of that will end up in enterprise IT remains to be seen.

Posted by Rick Vanover on 03/11/2010 at 12:47 PM


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