I got my first taste of virtualized Operating Systems.
I am running Windows XP Pro SP2 as a host environment. I wanted to be able to run IE7 as we are going to need to support it soon, while still having access to IE6. Other environments like Ubuntu were needed also. I stumbled upon VirtualBox from innotek. Using version 1.5.4 (released 27 December 2007) I was able to quickly get Windows XP Pro up and running. I used a fixed size virtual HDD (10GB) and dedicated 256MB of my system RAM to the environment. Installation from CD was straight forward, but mounting an ISO to boot from never worked for me. I’m still not sure if I was doing something wrong or if their is a bug.
Once I had XP up and running, I took a shot at Ubuntu 7.10. Again, booting from an ISO didn’t work. I put the CD in and ran the Live CD features in the virtual environment. When it came time to install, an error was generated during both the automatic partitioning and manual partitioning. The ext3 root was created quickly, but the swap refused to mount. After reading through the Ubuntu forums, I couldn’t find a solution on the VirtualBox site, I found that I had to use a dynamic sized virtual HDD, not a fixed size. Once that change was made, I got back into the live CD environment and had no problems getting the system installed. When I left work tonight, I was updating the 185 packages as prompted by the built-in updater.
Installing the “Guest Additions” software in both the XP and Ubuntu virtuals made the host user experience just that much better. I could easily move my mouse between windows without hitting the right control button first, mesh all of the desktops together, use windows remote desktop connections, etc. The additions ISO is included in the download and can be easily mounted to run from the command line or terminal as appropriate.
The benefits to my employer could be significant if we move to a virtualized environment. We have several desktops acting as single purpose servers that could easily be consolidated onto one server acting as a virtuals host. VirtualBox made the whole experience pleasant, fun, and exciting to see that many operating systems going at once.
My hardware consists of a Core 2 Duo E6660, 2GB 800Mhz RAM, dual 160GB WD hard drives, and a 256MB 7600GS PCI-E graphics card pumping bytes to a 20in Acer Widescreen LCD monitor. Having the host OS and the two virtuals running wasn’t a problem in any of the environments. Everything was smooth, I didn’t have any problems.
Time will tell if VirtualBox is ready for the enterprise primetime. I’ll need to look closer at the license options, stability over time, and ease of use.
For now, I’m just having fun running virtually.