Lazyweb: Virtualization software

I am looking at building a bunch of virtualized machines, and I have no idea what software I should be using.

  1. I want to create and run images on Linux and OS X
  2. I want those images to be runnable on Linux, OS X, and Solaris (optional)
  3. I want to make images that run Linux, Windows, and Solaris
  4. I want to run one set of images on a box connected to the internet, and have those images appear as separate machines.
  5. Bonus round: I want there to be some ISP/hosting provider that I can send images to and have them hosted.

I am assuming that my choice are: VMWare, Parallels, and VirtualBox.

Useful pointers and advice appreciated.

12 thoughts on “Lazyweb: Virtualization software

  1. Joe Heck

    I’ve been using VMware and think it’s a darn good solution. VMware Fusion on the Mac, VMware Server on Linux and PC. I don’t know Solaris to give you a detail there, but VMware supports ODF – an open disk format for the VM’s to support virtual appliances. Not sure if that’s a VMware marketing BS thing or useful.

    Parallels is good, but VMware gives you “run it anywhere right now” functionality out of the box. Parallels doesn’t exist on the other platforms.

    Don’t know about VirtualBox.

    I’ve transfered (with some effort) my VM’s to a hosting provider that ran them using VMware ESX quite effectively. The transfer was frankly enough of a pain that using a VM as a deployment mechanism wouldn’t be my first choice with a hosting provider, but that might just be who I was working with – not the technology itself.

    I routinely transfer and clone VM’s at work, shipping around 1 to 20 GB’s of data as a VM. That’s all using the VMware product set. VMware Fusion (Mac) is the only one that costs some $$ if that is an issue.

  2. petrilli

    Another vote for VMWare Fusion. The reason I use is because it lets me build multiple virtual networks to simulate some of the actual connections I deal with in the datacenters. I’ve never figured out how to do that in Parallels, though I find Parallels is better for running Windows XP… but I don’t do that.

  3. mikeal

    I used to be a die hard parallels fan in the early days of the Intel Macs.

    But when i started at Mozilla everyone was using VMWare and I figured I’d give Fusion another go round.

    I have to say, it’s much nicer than parallels. Generally much more stable and less resource hungry. The full screen mode works great with Spaces. And the images can float around between different VMWare clients on all platforms.

  4. Andrew McGregor

    The only one that gives you all of those (including hosting, although you may have to search around a bit for that) is VMWare. Parallels isn’t portable enough (although VMWare have a conversion tool for Parallels images).

    Unfortunately, it may happen in the specific case of running on OS X that you need Parallels anyway, because there is software that will run on Parallels but not VMWare (and vice-versa). However, this is usually because of their different 3D graphics support, and if you don’t do 3D, VMWare wins every time.

  5. Pharao

    My last test with OpenSolaris b83a was a bit painful. It seems to work with VMWare Server but crashes in VirtualBox and VMWare Workstation while trying to install it.

    VMware seems to be the best choice, but if you want to go with OpenSolaris think about running VMWare Server / Player.

  6. ph

    virtualbox is open source, works perfectly on my solaris nevada b82 and various linux machines.
    should work on os x too.
    and i’ve tried a lot of guest machines: a lot of linux, solaris variants and even exotic things like plan9.

  7. Januar Simarmata

    First time, I was using VMWare Server to run Windows XP and Linux. Later, I use VMWare Workstation which has much better responsiveness while typing or moving mouse.

    While running Linux on VMWare, I have to compile internal tool provided by VMWare in order to get smooth switching back and forward to VMWare.

    There are lots of nice feature of VMWare Workstation, eg: ability to access host’s filesystem.

    I think you can do 1-4 very good with VMWare Workstation. I don’t know if there is any ISP for you to host your image.

    Januar Simarmata – Dubai

  8. Tom Passin

    I have run various linux flavors on Windows using VMWare player, VMWare Server, and VirtualBox. VBox is now out for Mac too, but I haven’t used it there.

    I have found that I like VBox best. I like the way you set up and configure the virtual machines, and they wake up from hibernation much faster than under VMWare. Also, it’s easier to connect to USB keys with VBox.

    Getting Networking functioning right is easier with VMWare, though. However, it will work fine with VBox.

  9. Dmitriy

    Have you heard of Elastic Server On Demand? Allows you to build vmware, parallels, xen and deploy to amazon ec2 from a set of components (you can build your own components too). . Will address all 5 of your requirements (including a bonus one)

  10. Chris Winters

    I know it was optional, but I don’t think Solaris has a player for VMWare images. I’d love to be wrong about this because booting to another drive for Windows-only stuff is annoying…

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