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Virtualbox Goes OSS 75

paltemalte writes to tell us that VirtualBox has gone open source. InnoTek released their virtualization product as open source and launched to help cultivate the community and allow further development of the software.
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Virtualbox Goes OSS

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  • by Virak ( 897071 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @02:21PM (#17616462) Homepage
    1. Use full-sized images scaled down with HTML as thumbnails on your screenshot page, rather than real thumbnails.
    2. Get your site posted on Slashdot.
    3. ???
    4. PROFIT! (For your web host, at least)
  • A few questions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <> on Monday January 15, 2007 @02:25PM (#17616518)
    Just had a look at their site. Interesting that they claim contradictory things. Mainly that state that the source is the 'complete' program but also that their closed binaries have additional features. No .rpm or .spec in the source so I didn't bother to download it yet, certainly sounds like at least having a look at, heck maybe I could contribute a .spec at least. Of course I'll probably have to use a VM to do it because they don't have a stable 64bit host yet. :(

    Before doing anything though, is this for real? Has anyone on /. actually used it already and can testify that it runs at good speed and doesn't crap itself every ten minutes?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Tehre is a german review: []
      As they say it seems to be quite promissing.
      • Quick (and presumably poor) translation of their conclusion:

        With VirtualBox a technologically mature virtualization software for Windows and Linux enters the ring and it has a lot to offer: stability, performance, use both as workstation and server, lots of supported guest systems, and a many niceties that make the use of virtual machines comfortable -- and all this as open source. Weaknesses only occur only appear with advanced function for server consolidation. Vmware, VirtualPC, and others better watch

  • My God. We have: Xen, KVM, VMWare, QEMU (with and without KQEMU), User Mode Linux, Win4Lin, Bochs, and now VirtualBox. I'm sure there's others I've missed too.

    • Windows has lots too. Qemu, VMWare and VirtualBox work on Windows then Windows has MS Virtual Server, Parallels and others. Virtualisation as a whole is fragmented and it probably will be for a couple of years until a select few come out on top like VMWare already has.
    • I believe the word you are looking for is "competition". It works in the open source world as well as the private business to encourage advancement. As well, there are many possible approaches to something like this, so we get to see how they each work.

      Would you prefer that there was only a single vendor/group working on this instead?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:14PM (#17617122)
      That's a little unfair. That list represents a wide range of technologies out there, from full virtualization to full emulation, of complete OSes or particular software, and with a spot of OS porting and machine language translation on the side.

      Which you use depends on what you want to do - if you're in hosting, Xen, KVM, VMWare, vservers or OpenVZ is probably what you're after. If you're wanting to test software on several OSes, VMWare is probably where it's at, though Xen and probably KVM will serve too. If your OS of choice doesn't run on your hardware, you'll need an emulator like QEmu. Kernel hackers will probably use UML, Qemu or Bochs, whereas those who wish to use windows apps under linux might try Xen, KVM, QEmu, VMWare, Wine, Win4Lin or Cedega depending on various factors.

      Various levels of hardware support are also represented. Xen will get you near-native performance, but you'll need an x86 that explicitly supports full virtualization or an OS that's been recompiled for paravirtualization. QEmu, on the other hand, will let you run windows on a powerpc mac, albeit more slowly.

      So, although there's a lot of choice out there, which one you'd actually use depends a lot on what hardware you've got, what OS or progam you want to run, whether you want to use Office, play games, run a variety of OSes or many instances of one, and what's the fastest technique for your particular combination. There's a lot going on, and it's not just about running windows under linux or vice versa.
    • Competition is good!! And actually having competition is nice for a change if you are trying to decide which os to use.
    • It's just virtualization. The website has screenshots of XP running in a VM under OS/2.

      This is an application of some of the simplest principles of computer science.

      Basically the idea is that any function that is computable can be computed by a machine that is Turing Complete [].

      The applied corrolary is that anything one program/machine can do, another machine/program can do.

      Alan Turing [] is considered the father of modern computer science (please, no Ada Lovelace flames! I'm not clueless.)

      Generally spe

      • by siride ( 974284 )
        The thing is, it's NOT simple to do it fast. Sure, you can theoretically emulate anything on anything, but in the real world, where there are finite limits on storage and how many instructions can be executed in a given time unit, effective virtualization is rather difficult to achieve, especially without hardware support.
      • by Raenex ( 947668 )
        Generally speaking, Turing synthesis is the reason why DRM cannot possibly work.

        Not true if Trusted Computing [] becomes a reality. You can't stick your hardware in a virtual machine.

    • by arkhan_jg ( 618674 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @04:08AM (#17625818)
      From the perspective of running windows virtualised in linux;

      Xen is a pain to setup and manage for a desktop, it's server-orientated. QEMU without KQEMU is dead slow (full virtualisation has its price!), with KQEMU is closed source. KVM is quick with VT processors, but suffers from poor USB support (locks up on my machine), and network performance is slow in both due to lack of paravirtualised network drivers in qemu. UML obviously doesn't run windows. Win4Lin I haven't tried, it isn't free in either sense. Bochs is for much more hardcore situations than running Windows on x86. VMWare on linux - for me - has been awkward to get working fully (USB again) and rather flakey on both gentoo and ubuntu.

      Currently KVM shows promise, but it needs a bit more work for me, especially for USB, vesa-resolutions and networking. No doubt in another 6 months, it will be awesome. Indidivual user VMWare software just seems happier running with windows as the host OS.

      So far, my testing of virtualbox looks very promising - very fast, VERY nice front end on linux, quick to setup, and the closed source version has some clever RDP features. I think I may finally have found a virtualisation software that lets me sync my PDA to outlook via USB, when running linux as my main OS - my holy grail.

      There are lots of different virtualisation projects from total emulators like bochs, to paravirtualised-optimised systems like virtualbox and vmware, to full virtualisation such as qemu and kvm (strictly speaking, kvm is a replacement for kqemu, not qemu itself). I've not heard of virtualbox before, but I'm certainly going to look further into it.

    • There's also VirtualPC running in a DOS-based Mac emulator within dosemu. HTH.HAND.
  • As a business model, InnoTek publishes two versions [] - the new GPLed open source, and a binary-only proprietary version with some enhancements:

    * The full VirtualBox package is available in binary (executable) form free of charge from the Downloads page. This version is free for personal use and evaluation under the terms of the VirtualBox Personal Use and Evaluation License.

    If, instead, you wish to purchase licenses for enterprise use and/or enterpris

  • Freeware? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JoshJ ( 1009085 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @02:32PM (#17616616) Journal
    This is taking "freeware" to another level- Free/Opensource the low-quality version, while requiring people to pay for the "professional" version?

    The following list shows the features that are unique to the closed-source edition of VirtualBox. Note that this list may change over time as previously closed source features are made available for the open source version as well.

    * Remote Display Protocol (RDP) Server

    This component implements a complete RDP server on top of the virtual hardware and allows users to connect to a virtual machine remotely using any RDP compatible client.

    * USB support

    VirtualBox implements a virtual USB controller and supports passing through USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 devices to virtual machines.

    * USB over RDP

    This is a combination of the RDP server and USB support allowing users to make USB devices available to virtual machines running remotely.

    * Shared Folders

    With the use of Shared Folders, users can share directories on their host system with guest systems.

    * iSCSI initiator

    VirtualBox contains a builtin iSCSI initiator making it possible to use iSCSI targets as virtual disks without the guest requiring support for iSCSI.
    • by zyl0x ( 987342 )
      The difference between freewaring the base version, and open-sourcing it, is that you can add your advanced features to the open-source.
    • by Eil ( 82413 )
      Well, on the bright side, it's open source, so the community can add those few missing features like USB, right?

      I'm willing to bet that they can't open the RDP code because it's a proprietary Microsoft protocol that they had to sign an NDA to get.
    • by jonadab ( 583620 )
      > This is taking "freeware" to another level- Free/Opensource the low-quality
      > version, while requiring people to pay for the "professional" version?

      We used to call that "shareware", back in the day, before the term "shareware" got co-opted for thirty-day demos.
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @02:38PM (#17616708)

    So these guys look like they're targeting desktop use for the most part. So the big thing several players in the commercial space are rushing towards is support for 3D graphics acceleration via the graphics card. VMWare and Parallels are both due to release something usable in the near future. I see nothing about it on their Web site or in the user guide. It seems a strange item to leave out.

  • by symbolset ( 646467 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @02:42PM (#17616774) Journal
    From their download page:
    * Note: Even though we provide BitTorrents to allow for easier downloads, we do not currently permit redistribution of the VirtualBox binaries above. See the Licensing FAQ for details. This restriction does not, of course, apply to the Open Source Edition (OSE) below.

    Obviously the don't quite get how bittorrent works.

  • Note the Windows Vista Aero effects. Either the screenshots are fake or they are first to market with this. Anyone care to comment?

  • Trying it now... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Cicero382 ( 913621 ) <clancyj&tiscali,co,uk> on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:46PM (#17617512)
    I have to admit I hadn't heard of this before, so I thought I'd give a go (with the XP binary download).

    Bloody hell! It not only seems to work, it looks pretty fast as well. I'm installing a Fedora 6 on it (hosted on Win XP) as I type. I use VMware (licenced) on other systems and I use VMWare Player on this one (Dell XP thingy) and, so far, VB has impressed me.

    The user interface seems to be better thought out than I've encountered in the past (I especially like the ability to blow a virtual machine completely away with little effort) - VMWare, take note.

    I'll post again when I've given this instance a bit of a hammering - you know; IP stack handling, cpu loading etc.

    Give it a try - it can't hurt. AND their site hasn't shown signs of being slashdotted (err... yet).

    Oh, yeah! One last thing. Will those who are whinging about the differences about the binary version and the source version please do two things:

    1. Read what they *actually* say about the two versions.
    2. STFU!!

    I thank you.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by k8to ( 9046 )
      If the license were unconcionable (as are most proprietary software licenses), then it could possibly hurt. You could expose yourself to liability, or tainting. However, the licenses for the propietary-included and free-only versions are both blissfully simple and reasonable. Kudos to Innotek.
  • Has anyone done any testing comparing different virtualization products recently? I have looked in the past, but I could never find anything scientific enough to be considered as a reliable source.
  • Disgrace of /. Crowd (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Here is a company releasing a virtualization program, all of the sudden and then read all the first 20-30 posts - what a disgrace, complaints about licenses they haven't even read or understood, complaints that "redistribution" via bittorrent - guys, what are you doing?

    This is a 270M large source package, have you even took the time SVN it? No! So you all prematurely replying about something you have little to no clue about - educate yourself!

    Man, you are a disgrace of OSS movement, every single one who has
    • You must be new here!
    • by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) *
      > This is a 270M large source package, have you even took the time SVN it?

      Exactly. Even if I'd started pulling the source when the story was still in the mysterious future I probably wouldn't have a copy yet to look at. That was why my earlier question was based on a look at their website and a request for more information from anyone who had actual experience with it. Face it, these days companies dumping half baked code into open source is common so it pays to look before investing too much attentio
  • Not bashing the idea of them being kind enough to open their product at all.

    I just wonder if we really need yet another VM product now that we have tons of choices, on most any *common* platform. Both free and not so free. ( there are more free candidates to use then non free ).

    Why not everyone just get together and improve what is already out there instead of muddying the waters?
    • Well the one thing this has going for it over the only other one I've tried is I can install on OS on this. VMWarePlayer doesn't allow you to. Yes, you can do it, but it's a pain in the ass.

      Look forward to giving this a go.
      • by nurb432 ( 527695 )
        If you want a full featured product, then use VMware 'server' instead. Its actually 'more free' then player.

        Assuming you are on a windows host, Virtual PC is also free and fully functional..

        You also have QEMU..

        So either i totally misunderstood your post or you havent been trying very hard.
  • Innotek OS/2 ISV (Score:3, Informative)

    by dryeo ( 100693 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @05:26PM (#17619102)
    Innotek is an interesting company, one of the last OS/2 venders who have done quite a bit for OS/2. Products include
    Porting Virtual PC to OS/2 before MS bought it out (and fixes so virtual PC runs OS/2)
    Porting Alsa to OS/2. GPL questions about not releasing the 16 bit interface which the community rewrote and now we have the opensource Uniaud. Sound actually works better here then under Ubuntu.
    Lots of work on Odin (think Wine from which much of the code comes from). Unluckily they closed of most of their later developments and there has been questions about whether they are breaking the GPL. Seems they have honoured the letter of the GPL but perhaps not the spirit.
    Using Odin ported
    Flash 5 (plus an illegal Flash 7 sneaked into the wild)
    Java 1.4
    Acrobat reader.
    Also one of there most important developments (now maintained by the main porter) GCC 3.2.2 along with a new Libc as IBM would not distribute GPL code to build Mozilla.
    This allows the Mozilla family to continue to run on OS/2 and many an open source program to build with configure and make.
    Innotek libc is now klibc using GCC 3.3.5 and continues to improve.
  • I see all the negativity and I don't understand it. This is a seemingly good VM product being released as open source. I think this is a great contribution by Innosoft and I'd like to thank them for that. I'm installing Kubuntu on it right now.
  • As a reference point, has anybody compared speed/flexibility against Qemu?
  • Just installed VirtualBox (VB) on my not-so-up-to-date Athlon XP 2800+ (1GB RAM, ATA HDs, NVIDIA 6600 GT) running Ubuntu 6.10 as the host OS. Created a Windows Vista Ultimate VM and gave it 512MB RAM (VB only recommends 256MB?) and 20GB HD space. Only Problem: had to run the VM managament UI as root when starting the VM to avoid some access privilege problem with the VB kernel module (I did not RTFM, so...). Vista install went schmoothly, only the internet connection was not auto-detected.

    Vista Performance
  • After seeing the nerd herd bleating about the unavailability of some feautures the non-open edition has, i'm wondering why no of you supercoders sits down and marries this with this? [] RDP? Who needs theds that? Come on, code! (And give me something which blows the rest out of the water) ;->
  • I just found out some good and bad things.

    1. The Windows download is only 10 meg.
    2. It doesn't work on Win2k even though the documentation says it does. Apparently this is a known bug. See Knowledge Base [] cheers, Archie
  • Well, this has dropped off the home page, so I doubt anybody'll even see this post, but I figured I'd chime in anyway.

    I've got the VMWare player installed and installed this just to see what it would do if you threw something, uh, let's say esoteric at it ( The VM locks up on the nightly build, and I'm not having good success with the snapshot either.

    Next up: OS/2 (which I could never get working on either VMWare or QEMU).

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