A couple of days ago, after a tough day, I had a small discussion with one of my developers at work. I asked him to show me some document on his PC, and it took an awful long time for him to open it up because he mapped a network share on his private laptop he brought to work, and his laptop somehow stopped responding. My reaction was to say that this was an unacceptable loss of time and that I would think about no longer allowing people to bring their own gear to work.
Whilst I was driving home, I couldn’t get rid of the feeling that this was an emotional decision and that it felt wrong. Now that I took some time to think it over, I am sure that this is not what I will do in the future, but rather the opposite! I will encourage people to bring their own stuff to work, and even more than that…
SUN’s VirtualBox comes with a very nifty feature called virtual remote desktop protocol. This implementation allows you to connect to your virtual machine’s “screen” using the standard Windows RDP client (Remote Desktop Connection), or any other RDP compatible client. This means that you can easily operate your VirtualBox machines from remote, even accessing the boot-up screen and BIOS, without having to sit physically in front of the machine. This is really a very nice feature that I prefer over VMWare’s proprietary console application. Read on to find out how it works – it’s easy!
In the past, I’ve been working with VMWare Server quite a lot at my company VAlain SA. We use it to run a LAMP development environment so that we can easily cope with growing needs and of course be ready in face of hardware failures. My team of developers at atHome uses Sun’s VirtualBox for their needs.
Using VMWare Server running on top of a Fedora Core , with a Fedora Core guest OS for instance, we often experience serious lag due to i/o wait. Simple operations like rsync’ing files from a remote production box to the local development server, cause i/o wait in excess of 80%, slowing the whole virtual machine down to a crawl. This seems to be a quite common problem, and not dependant on specific hardware or software, as you can find many posts on the Internet when you google for “vmware io load” for instance.
Using SUN’s VirtualBox, the problems went away. I/O load is constantly very low on the same hardware and using the same software setup. Now, this doesn’t mean at all that VirtualBox is better than VMWare, or vice-versa – they are two different beasts. However, in our case, switching to VirtualBox brought a great improvement to what was a headache to us. I’d be glad to share your opinions and experiences!
UPDATE : I found a pretty good performance review comparing MS Virtual PC, SUN’s VirtualBox, and VMWare, over here http://4sysops.com/archives/microsoft-virtual-pc-2007-sp1-vs-sun-xvm-virtualbox-210/