Open Source Desktop Virtualization

Through the years, I’ve had to develop, maintain and support software on a variety of systems. Unfortunately, it’s often impossible to maintain specific software versions or configurations installed on physical machines. In the realm of web development, this becomes increasingly complex because of the rapid release of multiple browser versions.

To aid in testing, I’ve found that it’s often best to run these configurations in Virtual Machines, I’ve used VirtualPC and VMWare in the past, but have recently become a fan of Sun‘s OpenSource release of VirtualBox as it runs on a wide variety of host systems and supports most x86 based operating systems as clients.


Microsoft Virtual PC

I happened to spend most of this week in an IBM class using VMWare for the training environment (Windows XP Pro hosted on a Windows 2000 machine). This got me wondering about the free systems offered by many providers.

Here’s a few quick thoughts on Microsoft‘s offering, which admittedly seems pretty good.

Their product overview shows that you can run most (all?) previous Microsoft Operating System’s (MS-DOS, Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP/Vista… etc. ), even IBM’s OS/2 all on a single host machine with enough resources. Minimum usage per VM appears to be about 64MB RAM and 500MB disk space for the older OS’s, newer versions obviously requiring significantly more resources.

Since I’ve got most of these old OS installation disks in storage, I’ll give this a try and see how well it works. This may make for some interesting testing lab scenarios.