Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

Things that I like about VirtualBox OSE

6th September 2008

Now that VirtualBox 2.0 is out with its 64 bit operating system support among other things, the version included in Ubuntu 8.04, OSE 1.56, is looking that bit older. Nevertheless, there remains a lot to like about the version that I have been using.

Screenshot: Windows XP running on VirtualBox OSE

Windows XP running on VirtualBox OSE

For one thing, its shared folders functionality doesn’t trip up Photoshop Elements like VMware does. VMware so hobbled Photoshop’s ability to save back to the Linux file system that it had me looking at the WINE route and I got to using GIMP for a while. VirtualBox brought me back into the Photoshop fold and I seem to like the results that I can get with Elements better than those from GIMP.

Another nicety is the way that guest OS desktops can be resized to fit in a maximised VM window. For this to work, you need VirtualBox Guest Additions in place in the virtual machine but it works very well when all is in place; my experience is with Windows XP. Full screen is on tap too once you use the Host+F combination; the right hand control key is usually the Host key by default. If there is any criticism at all, it might be that seamless application windows are not available in OSE 1.5.6.

Linux kernel changes can upset things but drivers don’t take too long to appear and you can always take matters into your own hands anyway. It’s a far cry from the blithe indifference of VMware and the need to resort to vmware-any-any patching to get things under way again.

All in all, VirtualBox OSE treats me very well. Guest operating systems may seem sluggish at times but it’s never enough to annoy or seriously impede usage. It’ll be interesting to see if a newer version of VirtualBox makes it into Ubuntu 8.10.

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