VirtualBox a Vmware alternative

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 10, 2007
Updated • May 30, 2013

You all know that you can run virtual operating systems using vmware. VirtualBox is a free open source alternative to vmware which currently runs on 32-bit versions of Windows and Linux and supports the following guest systems: FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Linux 2.4 / 2.6, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Vista.

A good start to get accustomed to VirtualBox is to  downloading the excellent user manual which walks you through installing and configuring virtual machines on your computer. You can access the manual online as well if you prefer that. Note that it has a size of over 100 pages including advanced topics at the end.The most important ones are the first chapters as they introduce the software and walk you through the installation and configuration of a virtual machine on your PC.

Just download the 10 megabyte file from the VirtualBox website or as a torrent and install the software. Installation is really easy in Windows (just a double-click) but a little bit more complicated if you are using Linux. Check the user manual for detailed instructions for Linux.

I do not want to explain a detailed instruction to setup a new guest system because the user manual explains everything in such great detail that it does not feel necessary at all.

You basically create a new virtual machine and assign a name, ram and hard drive space to it and select a source for the installation of the guest system. The source can be from hard drive or CD for instance, just make sure you have the source at hand (what is meant by that is a Windows installation DVD or a Linux CD or ISO image for example).

Update: The latest version of VirtualBox supports recently released operation systems such as Windows 7 and newer Linux distributions among others. The software is now also compatible with Mac OS X.


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  1. Josemunix said on August 29, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    YM2149, your feedback in not positive nor constructive in any shape or form.
    You only implied: Sux
    Dude, an elementary school student could provide better feedback than that.

  2. heat23 said on November 9, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    I have used VMware Server (Free), VMware Workstation ($200), and Lightbox (Free). Comparing the 2 free versions, Lightbox blows VMware Server away. Lightbox offers similar functionality and usability to VMware Workstation but is free! Give it a try.. It is now a 60 MB download rather than 10 MB, but much more lean than VMWare offerings.

  3. Robert Couch said on December 13, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    YM2149, Give the guys a break. I’ll bet you couldn’t program half the stuff they did, and they’re doing it…that’s right…for you.

    Think before you spew out negatives.

    1. Brett said on September 10, 2009 at 8:56 pm

      > YM2149, Give the guys a break. I’ll bet you couldn’t program half the stuff they did, and they’re doing it…that’s right…for you.

      > Think before you spew out negatives.

      That’s the silliest argument I’ve ever heard. Constructive criticism makes you better…it’s a GOOD thing.

      So, to sum up your argument: “At least they’re trying!”. Ya, let’s only focus on what works, not what needs to be improved.

      Maybe we shouldn’t submit bug reports in case it hurts their feelings.

  4. YM2149 said on October 15, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    virtualbox sux
    its so terrible it cant emulate Windows Neptune, Longhorn or even Vista beta’s

  5. Paul Carey said on February 13, 2008 at 11:26 am

    VirtualBox is great piece of open source software and a testimony to the power of open source. It is certainly fast to run and is generally easy to get up and going in both windows and Linux environments. however its not without its problems (both linux and windows versions), I’ve had a fair few lockups, blue screens and random system restarts using it as well as managing to brick one USB drive completely, losing all the data, using its USB emulation feature. My advice is use but be careful and don’t rely on it to much.

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