Experiencing with vmware server and Sun xVM VirtualBox

August 17th, 2008 mysurface Posted in Misc, VirtualBox, vmware | Hits: 132363 | 7 Comments »

Recently I have tried Sun xVM VirtualBox 1.6.4 , I have compare vbox with Vmware server 1.0.4. After couple days of testing, its time for me to share some personal findings towards them. I may not able to provide graphs, and accurate figures to shows their performance and specification, but what I do is to only share my point of view as a layman, and how I like or dislike them based on the user experience.

First of all, let me list down my host machine specs:
Dell Vostro 1400 with Intel Core 2 Duo CPU T5270 @ 1.40GHz, 2G Ram.
I use 512 Mb Ram to load my guest os, I tried loading up myrinix live CD, as well as installed Windows XP.
Uses Fedora 8, my WM uses Fluxbox 1.0.0.

Before looking into performance and features, let us first look at the screenshot! I am loading up myrinix live cd at both virtual tool. The reason I choose myrinix because this great Live CD pre install with vbox guest additions as well as vmware tools, so that I can enjoy the mouse integration to move my mouse IN and OUT the guest os.

Virtual Box have separate window for virtual os settings and guest OS itself.

Vmware Server makes every Guest OSes in MDI, separate each guest oses into tabs, and the guest os settings in sidebar, NEAT!

Performance and Resources Usage
Seems both Vmware Server and Virtual Box loading speed are equally fast, and it speed close to native while I rambling in guest OS. I have such feeling of Vbox start up is a little bit faster than vmware, but uses more CPU resources than vmware. For saving and resuming guest os machine state, vbox really out performs vmware server, vbox takes less than 10 seconds to save a machines state and around 5 seconds to resume them, but vmware takes ages, even greater than shutdown and startup time, CRAZY!

Vmware support various of networking, and it allows us to switch between them in real time. I can switch NAT and Bridge anytime with loaded guest os. If I want to share internet with my host, I choose NAT. I do this when my host accessing internet through wireless LAN. I choose bridge when I want my guest OS to obtain a different IP from DHCP server. Meaning my host and guest os have separate IP address. With that, my guest OS now can be accessed from the real LAN!

Vbox also support various types of network mode too. By default, vbox uses NAT. Host Interface is equivalent to vmware Bridge mode. In order to allow Host Interface to be working, you need to setup manually, vbox does provides the guidelines for different host such as windows, solaris and Linux. But the steps is quite tedious and don’t bother trying out right now. Not to say you can’t switch network modes in real time, while your guest OS is running, the guest OS settings automatically disabled from configure. You can’t modify the settings even you save the guest os machine state, that is so ANNOYING!

But vbox support four virtual network adapter, if you have properly setup the Host Interface, you can manipulate those virtual Ethernets to bind to different network interface provided that your host machine have multiple network interface too. Vbox also provides different Network Adapter Hardware(Adapter Type) for you to choose. With some specific guest OS, you need to choose the correct Adapter Type, else it won’t works. For example freebsd guest os needs PCnet-PCI II instead of PCnet-PC III. Well, I don’t know what is the different between those options and the purpose of providing those options.

Disk Image format
Vmware supports only vmdk format, and that is its own disk image format. Vbox default disk image format is vdi, but vbox supports vmdk too!

cd-rom support
Both vmware and vbox support mounting and unmounting cd-rom from iso as well as host cd-rom devices. In vbox always remember to unmount first before mounting a new one.

Installing Windows XP
Both vmware and vbox gives a very good support for windows xp as guest os, such as Auto resize guest display ( Auto-fit Guest in vmware). Mouse integration allows moving mouse in and out the guest os. Those features will be activated after installing guest additions into windows xp guest os ( vmware tools for vmware).

Vbox provides Seamless Mode feature, which it blends the host and guest os together. Check out the screenshot!

I am running Firefox 3 from both Linux and Windows XP side by side

While moving my guest os’s apps around my Linux desktop, I experience flickery in display, probably because I run this in Fluxbox, I should try to run this in KDE or gnome.

Vbox support folder sharing between guest os and host os, this is a demanding feature that vmware server doesn’t provide, but I heard this feature is available in vmware workstation.

Some trivial Facts!
I am having dual boot for my laptop, meaning I have limited hardisk space for my ext3 partition, therefore I created vmdk format using qemu-img in my NTFS partition. After that, I load up my vbox and install Windows XP into the vmdk disk image. Next, I create a vmx file and try to load this vmdk at vmware server.
( For more information regarding qemu and vmx, check out this post.)

Ouch! vmware do not able to recognize this vmdk? I copy over the vmdk to ext3 and try again, it works! Meaning vmware for linux do not able to read the image in other filesystem except linux native filesystem? FUNNY!

Vmware virtualize different hardwares compare to vbox as well as qemu. There are risk of crashing windows if changes of hardwares, you will be throw into blue screen of death. But vmware handle it well, although I am installing windows in vbox, the windows is booting up nicely and detects the change of hardwares and depend me to just reactive windows. At this point, I shutdown my windows from vmware and try to boot it up from vbox, it crashed! I am in blue screen of death!

Both vmware and vbox have its pros and cons, I enjoy both of them.

Vmware Server:
1. Able to switch networks from NAT to Bridge mode in real time.
2. Organize guest oses in tabs and have their settings in sidebar.
3. Do not support File sharing. ( vmware workstation does but not vmware server)
4. Saving and resuming guest os machine state takes longer time than startup and shutdown.
5. Do not able to read disk image from NTFS and NAT filesystem.
6. Able to handle windows without crashing where windows installed using different virtual tool.

Virtual Box:
1. Provide 4 virtual network Adapter, but need manual setup Host Interface.
2. Support both vdi and vmdk format.
3. Seamless Mode for Windows XP guest OS is cool.
4. Support File sharing within guest os and host os.
5. Saving and resuming guest OS very fast.
6. Setting disabled while guest OS is running or saved.

7 Responses to “Experiencing with vmware server and Sun xVM VirtualBox”

  1. and don’t forget, VirtualBox is free!!

  2. Great article! Thanks

  3. Greate Article, a small note to Alex Pim:
    VMWare Server is also FREE !!

  4. Also keep in mind that VMWare Server 2.x is available now.. It’s a lot different in terms of the control interface

  5. VirtualBox 2.x started releases in September ’08. But both it and VMWare Server 2.x are clearly beyond the scope of this review.

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