Sun’s Virtual Box

I’ll not pretend to understand the programming and engineering behind it but I have come to learn Sun’s recently-released Virtual Box. Sun Microsystems are going to be bigger players in the consumer market very soon, despite the enormous role they’ve played over the years, quietly helping to build the web. I recently downloaded and installed their Virtual Box software and use it to look at various Linux distributions that catch my eye. Think of VB like running a computer inside your own PC or Mac. Here is VB running Ubuntu on my iMac at home.

It is a running operating system inside your regular operating system – Windows or whatever. Why am I doing this? Well, in the next two years or so I am going to be changing my desktop computer at home and am looking at this or derivatives of it. I’ll be going open-source with the software and am currently downloading PC-BSD – another free linux OS. Ubuntu already rocks my world and with Sun’s VM, I get to keep up to date with its various versions (Eft, Fungus, Heron etc etc) while they get better and better. Oh yea, did I mention that both Ubuntu and Sun’s VB are free? Go get it and say farewell to Redmond and Cupertino. Have confidence in it and it can change the way you see computers forever.
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4 thoughts on “Sun’s Virtual Box

  1. Hi,

    Going through your post, I can’t help but to share that I too had just recently put Sun’s VB on my iMac. I don’t have any intention of moving away from OS X. I’m just interested in toying around with VB to see what all this virtualization talk is about.

    But I am curious about your comment on moving away from Redmond and Cupertino. My curiosity stems from the fact that I have been a windows user all my life (basically since windows first came onto the scene), and only last December discovered OS X. I have since be blown away. Basically every time I think about it, I wonder why I had been putting up with doing things in such a difficult way on the windows platform for so many years. OS X is much easier. And much more natural.

    So my curiosity really is, how can it get much better? Is Ubuntu as big a leap is it is from windows to OS X? I’ve tried linux off and on, and it does not have the same impact as OS X had.

    Do share your opinion.

    Thank you.

  2. A fair point. Ubuntu has not the same wow factor when you move from Windows to OS X. Ubuntu is more interesting to me because it means a move away from closed operating systems, not shared with anyone else other than a few hundred programmers. It is not that I can program computers myself merely that I like the shared and distributed nature of Linux and the sense of community that it can encourage.

    OS X is a very beautiful OS and very I have found it very intuitive. But when all I am doing at home is collecting photos I take, surfing the web and replying to emails, I am not sure why I should spend 1200e for an infrastructure which does that. VB is good for testing the Ubuntu developments in advance of making my next purchase.

    Come on out the anonymous shell and reveal thyself.

  3. Hi,

    Thanks for your point of view. I’m with you on OS X being beautiful. I’ll be staying with it for the foreseeable future. But its good to here what others think.

    Cheers and have a nice day.

  4. I note VB is being treated here as a curiosity, rather than a useful piece of software.

    I have used Linux distros for many years, avoiding Windows as much as possible. But XP is OK and of course it is popular and Linux distros have always been more difficult to operate. Ubuntu 8.04 has come very close to the XP standard with accessibility to Shockwave Flash and various audio codecs, but there are still many things more readily done by XP. Google Earth and iTunes, for example. Conversely there is nothing, for example, like the top-of-the-line Linux web editor Bluefish available under Windows.

    Both OSs have their uses and I like to switch between them. I previously had both OSs loaded in separate partitioons and switched as necessary via GRUB. Virtual Box now takes out the hassle and delays of switching and file transfers.

    I have an HP laptop (Compaq nx6325) loaded primarily with XP. After a few experiments and after increasing memory from the standard 1Gb to 2Gb, XP with Virtual Box plus Ubuntu 8.04 works like a dream. It is possible to switch between the two OSs in an instant and to exchange data between them quickly via a separate vfat partition set for Share.

    Previous loads of Ubuntu called for tweaks to activate the Broadcom wifi module. This was easy using Ubuntu 7.04, became difficult (unstable) with 7.10 and impossible with 8.04. Using VB, wifi is via the XP system; Ubuntu behaves as if there is a cable connection. Wonderful.

    Further, hibernation via lid closure is controlled by the underlying XP. Again, no further complications as previously experienced hibernating Ubuntu.

    The one drawback of VB is the choice of the “host” key, defaulting to the right Ctrl. I am accustomed to using that key during normal Linux operations and having to remember to use the left Ctrl caused errors and slowed me down. However, the choice of key can be changed. I replace Host (right Ctrl) with the Windows Menu key, which serves no function under Ubuntu and I am now able to work without worrying about mis-keying.

    To me Virtual Box is definitely not a curiosity. It adds a new dimension to computer operations that was previously lacking. It opens up many possibilities and I am sure it will rapidly become a mainstream program.

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