VirtualBox is a cross-platform virtualization application. What does that mean? For one thing, it installs on your existing Intel or AMD-based computers, whether they are running Windows, Mac, Linux or Solaris operating systems. Secondly, it extends the capabilities of your existing computer so that it can run multiple operating systems (inside multiple virtual machines) at the same time. So, for example, you can run Windows and Linux on your Mac, run Windows Server 2008 on your Linux server, run Linux on your Windows PC, and so on, all alongside your existing applications. You can install and run as many virtual machines as you like — the only practical limits are disk space and memory.
VirtualBox is deceptively simple yet also very powerful. It can run everywhere from small embedded systems or desktop class machines all the way up to datacenter deployments and even Cloud environments.
The following screenshot shows you how VirtualBox, installed on a Mac computer, is running Windows 7 in a virtual machine window:
In this User Manual, we’ll begin simply with a quick introduction to virtualization and how to get your first virtual machine running with the easy-to-use VirtualBox graphical user interface. Subsequent chapters will go into much more detail covering more powerful tools and features, but fortunately, it is not necessary to read the entire User Manual before you can use VirtualBox.
You can find a summary of VirtualBox’s capabilities in the section called “Features overview”. For existing VirtualBox users who just want to see what’s new in this release, there is a detailed list in Chapter 15, Change log.
Uses of Oracle VirtualBox:
- 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.
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Tips on installing VirtualBox on Windows 8
1. The latest version should work fine. Just make sure VT-x (Hardware Virtualization) is enabled in the BIOS.
Without that, I had some issues on i7 and besides there were glitches on dual cores as well.
Once I had a crash on the VM Manager but didn’t happened again. I even tested a custom build of VBox OSE and worked pretty well.
2. If you’re using VBox on Windows 8 Pro then you’ll need to make sure Hyper-V is disabled from the OS features.
After all this and you still have issues, you could give VMware Player a try which is also free for personal VM usage.
It is very stable (I don’t work for VMware) and didn’t crashed so far (VT-x also has to be enabled when available in BIOS or CPU).
3. But VirtualBox was tested on 3 pc’s in my case and it should work fine even on Windows 8 (the latest of course, VBox 4.2.x). It’s better to install the VBox extension pack as well.