is a general-purpose full virtualizer for x86 hardware. Intel or AMD.
Software Santa runs Ubuntu 11 through 13 in VirtualBox! A Software Santa Pick!
This is one of Santa's All time Favorites!
This Won't work on Macintosh PPC Systems. This requires a AMD or Intel processor. But you can run other Applications or Programs from other Operating Systems (OS) simultaneously with your Usual OS and Apps!
VirtualBox is a family of powerful x86 virtualization products for enterprise as well as home use. Not only is VirtualBox an extremely feature rich, high performance product for enterprise customers, it is also the only professional solution that is freely available as Open Source Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL). Emulate Windows, or FreeDOS, or Linux - on a Mac!http://virtualbox.org/
Why is virtualization useful?
The techniques and features that VirtualBox provides are useful for several scenarios:
- Running multiple operating systems simultaneously. VirtualBox allows you to run more than one operating system at a time. This way, you can run software written for one operating system on another (for example, Windows software on Linux or a Mac) without having to reboot to use it. Since you can configure what kinds of "virtual" hardware should be presented to each such operating system, you can install an old operating system such as DOS or OS/2 even if your real computer's hardware is no longer supported by that operating system.
- Easier software installations. Software vendors can use virtual machines to ship entire software configurations. For example, installing a complete mail server solution on a real machine can be a tedious task. With VirtualBox, such a complex setup (then often called an "appliance") can be packed into a virtual machine. Installing and running a mail server becomes as easy as importing such an appliance into VirtualBox.
- Testing and disaster recovery. Once installed, a virtual machine and its virtual hard disks can be considered a "container" that can be arbitrarily frozen, woken up, copied, backed up, and transported between hosts.
On top of that, with the use of another VirtualBox feature called "snapshots", one can save a particular state of a virtual machine and revert back to that state, if necessary. This way, one can freely experiment with a computing environment. If something goes wrong (e.g. after installing misbehaving software or infecting the guest with a virus), one can easily switch back to a previous snapshot and avoid the need of frequent backups and restores.
Any number of snapshots can be created, allowing you to travel back and forward in virtual machine time. You can delete snapshots while a VM is running to reclaim disk space.
- Infrastructure consolidation. Virtualization can significantly reduce hardware and electricity costs. Most of the time, computers today only use a fraction of their potential power and run with low average system loads. A lot of hardware resources as well as electricity is thereby wasted. So, instead of running many such physical computers that are only partially used, one can pack many virtual machines onto a few powerful hosts and balance the loads between them.
When dealing with virtualization (and also for understanding the following chapters of this documentation), it helps to acquaint oneself with a bit of crucial terminology, especially the following terms:
Host operating system (host OS).
This is the operating system of the physical computer on which VirtualBox was installed. There are versions of VirtualBox for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and Solaris hosts; for details, please see the section called “Supported host operating systems”.
Most of the time, this User Manual discusses all VirtualBox versions together. There may be platform-specific differences which we will point out where appropriate.
Guest operating system (guest OS).
This is the operating system that is running inside the virtual machine. Theoretically, VirtualBox can run any x86 operating system (DOS, Windows, OS/2, FreeBSD, OpenBSD), but to achieve near-native performance of the guest code on your machine, we had to go through a lot of optimizations that are specific to certain operating systems. So while your favorite operating system may run as a guest, we officially support and optimize for a select few (which, however, include the most common ones).
See the section called “Supported guest operating systems” for details.
Virtual machine (VM).
This is the special environment that VirtualBox creates for your guest operating system while it is running. In other words, you run your guest operating system "in" a VM. Normally, a VM will be shown as a window on your computer's desktop, but depending on which of the various frontends of VirtualBox you use, it can be displayed in full screen mode or remotely on another computer.
In a more abstract way, internally, VirtualBox thinks of a VM as a set of parameters that determine its behavior. They include hardware settings (how much memory the VM should have, what hard disks VirtualBox should virtualize through which container files, what CDs are mounted etc.) as well as state information (whether the VM is currently running, saved, its snapshots etc.). These settings are mirrored in the VirtualBox Manager window as well as the VBox
Manage command line program; see Chapter 8, VBoxManage. In other words, a VM is also what you can see in its settings dialog.
This refers to special software packages which are shipped with VirtualBox but designed to be installed inside a VM to improve performance of the guest OS and to add extra features. This is described in detail in Chapter 4, Guest Additions.
Here's a brief outline of VirtualBox's main features:
Supported host operating systems
- Portability. VirtualBox runs on a large number of 32-bit and 64-bit host operating systems (again, see the section called “Supported host operating systems” for details).
VirtualBox is a so-called "hosted" hypervisor (sometimes referred to as a "type 2" hypervisor). Whereas a "bare-metal" or "type 1" hypervisor would run directly on the hardware, VirtualBox requires an existing operating system to be installed. It can thus run alongside existing applications on that host.
To a very large degree, VirtualBox is functionally identical on all of the host platforms, and the same file and image formats are used. This allows you to run virtual machines created on one host on another host with a different host operating system; for example, you can create a virtual machine on Windows and then run it under Linux.
In addition, virtual machines can easily be imported and exported using the Open Virtualization Format (OVF, see the section called “Importing and exporting virtual machines”), an industry standard created for this purpose. You can even import OVFs that were created with a different virtualization software.
- No hardware virtualization required. For many scenarios, VirtualBox does not require the processor features built into newer hardware like Intel VT-x or AMD-V. As opposed to many other virtualization solutions, you can therefore use VirtualBox even on older hardware where these features are not present. The technical details are explained in the section called “Hardware vs. software virtualization”.
- Guest Additions: shared folders, seamless windows, 3D virtualization. The VirtualBox Guest Additions are software packages which can be installed inside of supported guest systems to improve their performance and to provide additional integration and communication with the host system. After installing the Guest Additions, a virtual machine will support automatic adjustment of video resolutions, seamless windows, accelerated 3D graphics and more. The Guest Additions are described in detail in Chapter 4, Guest Additions.
In particular, Guest Additions provide for "shared folders", which let you access files from the host system from within a guest machine. Shared folders are described in the section called “Shared folders”.
- Great hardware support. Among others, VirtualBox supports:
- Guest multiprocessing (SMP). VirtualBox can present up to 32 virtual CPUs to each virtual machine, irrespective of how many CPU cores are physically present on your host.
- USB device support. VirtualBox implements a virtual USB controller and allows you to connect arbitrary USB devices to your virtual machines without having to install device-specific drivers on the host. USB support is not limited to certain device categories. For details, see the section called “USB settings”.
- Hardware compatibility. VirtualBox virtualizes a vast array of virtual devices, among them many devices that are typically provided by other virtualization platforms. That includes IDE, SCSI and SATA hard disk controllers, several virtual network cards and sound cards, virtual serial and parallel ports and an Input/Output Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controller (I/O APIC), which is found in many modern PC systems. This eases cloning of PC images from real machines and importing of third-party virtual machines into VirtualBox.
- Full ACPI support. The Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) is fully supported by VirtualBox. This eases cloning of PC images from real machines or third-party virtual machines into VirtualBox. With its unique ACPI power status support, VirtualBox can even report to ACPI-aware guest operating systems the power status of the host. For mobile systems running on battery, the guest can thus enable energy saving and notify the user of the remaining power (e.g. in full screen modes).
- Multiscreen resolutions. VirtualBox virtual machines support screen resolutions many times that of a physical screen, allowing them to be spread over a large number of screens attached to the host system.
- Built-in iSCSI support. This unique feature allows you to connect a virtual machine directly to an iSCSI storage server without going through the host system. The VM accesses the iSCSI target directly without the extra overhead that is required for virtualizing hard disks in container files. For details, see the section called “iSCSI servers”.
- PXE Network boot. The integrated virtual network cards of VirtualBox fully support remote booting via the Preboot Execution Environment (PXE).
- Multigeneration branched snapshots. VirtualBox can save arbitrary snapshots of the state of the virtual machine. You can go back in time and revert the virtual machine to any such snapshot and start an alternative VM configuration from there, effectively creating a whole snapshot tree. For details, see the section called “Snapshots”. You can create and delete snapshots while the virtual machine is running.
- VM groups. VirtualBox provides a groups feature that enables the user to organize virtual machines collectively, as well as individually. In addition to basic groups, it is also possible for any VM to be in more than one group, and for groups to be nested in a hierarchy -- i.e. groups of groups. In general, the operations that can be performed on groups are the same as those that can be applied to individual VMs i.e. Start, Pause, Reset, Close (Save state, Send Shutdown, Poweroff), Discard Saved State, Show in fileSystem, Sort.
- Clean architecture; unprecedented modularity. VirtualBox has an extremely modular design with well-defined internal programming interfaces and a clean separation of client and server code. This makes it easy to control it from several interfaces at once: for example, you can start a VM simply by clicking on a button in the VirtualBox graphical user interface and then control that machine from the command line, or even remotely. See the section called “Alternative front-ends” for details.
Due to its modular architecture, VirtualBox can also expose its full functionality and configurability through a comprehensive software development kit (SDK), which allows for integrating every aspect of VirtualBox with other software systems. Please see Chapter 11, VirtualBox programming interfaces for details.
- Remote machine display. The VirtualBox Remote Desktop Extension (VRDE) allows for high-performance remote access to any running virtual machine. This extension supports the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) originally built into Microsoft Windows, with special additions for full client USB support.
The VRDE does not rely on the RDP server that is built into Microsoft Windows; instead, it is plugged directly into the virtualization layer. As a result, it works with guest operating systems other than Windows (even in text mode) and does not require application support in the virtual machine either. The VRDE is described in detail in the section called “Remote display (VRDP support)”.
On top of this special capacity, VirtualBox offers you more unique features:
- Extensible RDP authentication. VirtualBox already supports Winlogon on Windows and PAM on Linux for RDP authentication. In addition, it includes an easy-to-use SDK which allows you to create arbitrary interfaces for other methods of authentication; see the section called “RDP authentication” for details.
- USB over RDP. Via RDP virtual channel support, VirtualBox also allows you to connect arbitrary USB devices locally to a virtual machine which is running remotely on a VirtualBox RDP server; see the section called “Remote USB” for details.
Currently, VirtualBox runs on the following host operating systems:
Note that the above list is informal. Oracle support for customers who have a support contract is limited to a subset of the listed host operating systems. Also, any feature which is marked as experimental is not supported. Feedback and suggestions about such features are welcome.
- Windows hosts:
- Windows XP, all service packs (32-bit)
- Windows Server 2003 (32-bit)
- Windows Vista (32-bit and 64-bit).
- Windows Server 2008 (32-bit and 64-bit)
- Windows 7 (32-bit and 64-bit)
- Windows 8 (32-bit and 64-bit)
- Windows Server 2012 (64-bit)
- Mac OS X hosts:
Intel hardware is required; please see Chapter 14, Known limitations also.
- 10.6 (Snow Leopard, 32-bit and 64-bit)
- 10.7 (Lion, 32-bit and 64-bit)
- 10.8 (Mountain Lion, 64-bit)
- Linux hosts (32-bit and 64-bit). Among others, this includes:
It should be possible to use VirtualBox on most systems based on Linux kernel 2.6 using either the VirtualBox installer or by doing a manual installation; see the section called “Installing on Linux hosts”. However, the formally tested and supported Linux distributions are those for which we offer a dedicated package.
- 8.04 ("Hardy Heron"), 8.10 ("Intrepid Ibex"), 9.04 ("Jaunty Jackalope"), 9.10 ("Karmic Koala"), 10.04 ("Lucid Lynx"), 10.10 ("Maverick Meerkat), 11.04 ("Natty Narwhal"), 11.10 ("Oneiric Oncelot"), 12.04 ("Precise Pangolin")
- Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 ("lenny") and 6.0 ("squeeze")
- Oracle Enterprise Linux 4 and 5, Oracle Linux 6
- Redhat Enterprise Linux 4, 5 and 6
- Fedora Core 4 to 17
- Gentoo Linux
- openSUSE 11.0, 11.1, 11.2, 11.3, 11.4, 12.1, 12.2
- Mandriva 2010 and 2011
Note that starting with VirtualBox 2.1, Linux 2.4-based host operating systems are no longer supported.
- Solaris hosts (32-bit and 64-bit) are supported with the restrictions listed in Chapter 14, Known limitations:
- Solaris 11 including Solaris 11 Express
- Solaris 10 (u8 and higher)