Running multiple operating systems using Virtualization.


PrOuD InDiAn
4 May 2008
Virtualization is a process of running multiple operating systems on the same computer, all at the same time.

Virtualization softwares aren't limited to only a handful like VMWare and Microsoft Virtual PC. There are many more options available. Here are some of the best virtualization solutions, both paid and free.

Commercial virtualization softwares:

Parallels Workstation (for Windows & Linux)
Paralles for Desktop (for Mac)

Freeware virtualization softwares:

Microsoft Virtual PC 2007
Virtual Iron
PearPC (for running Mac inside Windows and Linux)
VMWare server
VMWare Player


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PearPC is very limited now a days since it is a powerPC emulator and MacOS has long since left the PowerPC platform. Beyond that PearPC, Bochs and QEMU are also more accurately described as processor emulation as opposed to a full virtualization solution.. although QEMU has moved more into true virtualiztion.

Last I heard, Virtual Iron is not free.

Simics is geard very much for software development environments and debugging and not really for running production servers on.

We could talk about the difference in hypervisor based virtualization vs host based virtualization as well as there are HUGE differences in performance and scalability.

Why not mention the free VMWare solutions as well? VMWare server and VMWare Player? For that matter, what about Xen?


The wikipedia article actually does do a very good job of comparing the various software options available.

My view is that most home users will never really need to worry about virtualization - but I would recommend some application virtualization solutions like the Altiris Juice solutions which is pretty neat to play around with.

Business use of virtualization will depend on need and costs. I maintain two VI3 hosts running about 30 production and 15 test/development virtual servers across them and another in our DR environment for business continuity purposes. Most small businesses won't have the money to put that in so you would look at either local storage VI3 solutions, waiting for Microsoft hypervisor to finally ship and hope it works well, trying your luck out with Xen, or drop down into non-hypervisor solutions like the VMWare Server and/or Virtual Server (the only two I would recommend for production machines).
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Thank you FITZ for reminding me of those ..... actually i just forgot to enter VMWare server and VMWare Player....
ahh.. thanks Lord :) I learn something new every day :) :p
Great list binoyxj - but kind of useless if one doesn't share its own experience with those programs. So, will you be kind and do that? :)

I've personally used MS VirtualPC 2007 on my XP machine to give Vista a try and I was surprised that the speed of the VM was pretty good (even though I gave it only 512 of the physical ram).
Is it possible to play Thief/Thief 2 on these with hardware acceleration?
I'm a die hard VMWare Workstation fan. Every once in a while I'll try MS VirtualPC but it was always slower than VMWare and didn't have as many features. It has been a little while since I've tried it again, but I have no reason to switch again yet so I don't know if I'll feel like experimenting soon.

I used to use VirtualPC before MS bought it from Connectix; I always thought it was marginally faster than VMWare back then.

It is true that VMWare Workstation has gone from a 20MB installer for v4.0.5-6030, to 330MB for v6.0.3 build 80004 or 375MB for v6.5 Friends and Family Release build 67318, but I don't mind with all the added features as long as it remains fast and does what I want.
May I ask why you want to play those in a virtual machine as opposed to a real Windows installation? I looked them up and saw they were old games with very little for hardware requirements, so I think it's possible that at least some virtual computers like VMWare Workstation, might be able to play them, just not with the performance of a regular computer.
for dos games look into dosbox if you haven't already.

For older windows games, just scrape together some older parts and install windows 98 :)

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