Impressed by the VirtualBox

>> Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Both my personal computers are now powered by Ubuntu and it has been the case for the past 8 months or so. I must say I am very satisfied and do not regret one bit my Windoze days. Ubuntu has given my aging laptop a second life and has rescued me from the hell of Windoze Vista on my desktop. Overall, things run smoother and faster on both my computers and I can find pretty much anything I need as free application software with generally very few hassles when comes the time to install or update software.

However, there are times when it seems you cannot easily do without Windows. For example, when I need to prepare my income tax report with a piece of software only available on Windows. Just recently, a client asked me to do some maintenance/changes on an Eclipse RCP application we had developed for him a few years ago. Actually, the (Java) program runs pretty well on Linux but I really need to test it on the client's target O/S. I never had any luck with Wine (Windows emulator) on Linux so I tinkered with the idea of configuring my computer for dual boot as a solution but that really did not appeal to me.

That is when I remembered about virtualization and my earlier experiments with Sun's VirtualBox on a Windoze host about a year ago. I had not pursued my investigation very far at the time but the technology appeared promising. Turns out that on my Ubuntu/Linux machine, VBox is a winner. Maybe the product has matured or maybe Linux is just a better host for this technology but I now have a full fledged WinXP machine in a window on my Ubuntu desktop and it is actually running everything I throw at it without a glitch and without any negative impact on the host O/S. I can easily share files, build my Windows RCP application with Eclipse on Linux and run it under (now Oracle's) VBox.

In a nutshell, if you use Linux but occasionally (or regularly) need to run software on Windows, then virtualization in general and VBox in particular is the way to go.



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