Download of the Week: VirtualBox

By on May 19, 2011, 3:00 PM

VirtualBox is a powerful cross-platform virtualization manager that will enable you to run a virtual operating system on your PC. You can run Windows and Linux on a Mac, for example, and switch back and forth between the different operating systems without rebooting.

It's a really neat solution for developers who want to test their software on multiple platforms, or pretty much anyone looking to experiment safely with a computing environment.

We used VirtualBox to run Chromium OS for an upcoming article and sometimes rely on it to try out new software. If something goes wrong, one can easily switch back to a previous snapshot and avoid a headache. Small business owners can utilize it to test software and network configurations without having to buy multiple computers and licenses.

It's surprisingly easy to use yet also very powerful. You can install and run as many virtual machines as you like -- the only limits are disk space and memory -- and it can run everywhere from small embedded systems or desktops all the way up to datacenter deployments and even Cloud environments.

VirtualBox is being actively developed with frequent releases and has an ever-growing list of features, supported guest operating systems and platforms it runs on. The most recent major release, 4.0, brought an improved user interface and added virtual hardware support. You can download VirtualBox for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and Solaris.

User Comments: 15

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n00bzZy said:

Just started using VB this week (though I found it via a Google search and not here) to begin exploring Ubuntu a bit. It is quite easy to use, recommended to anyone who wants to try a different OS without too much hassle.

taea00 said:

VirtualBox is a great piece of software. I've used it for years, and it's just getting more powerful and easier to use at the same time. I was a bit worried when Oracle bought out Sun that this amazing software would get gimped or killed off, but they're still releasing updates and it's still the best way to try out new software.

I'm constantly trying out new linux distributions and this is the best way to hop in and play with them.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

Another GREAT app is VMware. WMware workstation is a AWESOME tool, but this one isnt free.

Another alternative is Virtual PC, I believe this is Microsoft's version.

These are the only ones I've used, and I have no knowledge of using Virtual Box.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

How did you guys get Chromium OS? This is what I found...

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Already got it about 4 months ago and couldn't be happier with it...Thanks to Leeky for the recommendation!

unrealmp3 unrealmp3 said:

The biggest benefit of VirtualBox compared to the other two is that's it's free to use and it is available under Windows, OSX and Linux.

pcnthuziast said:

Can I run XP on 7 64 home premium?

Jos Jos said:

@trillionsin that's the one I used

Cota Cota said:

pcnthuziast said:

Can I run XP on 7 64 home premium?

Yes you can, you can virtually install any OS (Guest) independently of your Host OS, however you cant install iOS on any virtual PC software, cus Steve Jobs is a duck

I use VMWare Workstation and it has paid every single penny, too bad they lost the support for old games like AOE II and such :'(

Guest said:

Get it and try it now before Oracle starts charging for it, that's all I can say.

Leeky Leeky said:

Already got it about 4 months ago and couldn't be happier with it...Thanks to Leeky for the recommendation!

Good stuff!

Always nice to hear success stories!


Yes you can, you can virtually install any OS (Guest) independently of your Host OS,

That is not strictly true.

Last time I checked running a host with a 32 bit operating system you couldn't run a 64 bit guest operating system.

You also need to have Intel's VT.x enabled on your CPU to run 64bit, and scale across multiple CPU cores.

If however you have a 64bit CPU, with VT.x enabled, you can run pretty much any guest OS, with multi-core support for each one.

VT.x = Intel's virtualisation technology. If its AMD it still needs virtualisation enabled.

example1013 said:

How memory-intensive is the actual program? Like, say, how does it compare to Parallels?

Leeky Leeky said:


The memory consumption is sod all until its running a Guest OS. Once running a Guest OS it will be consuming the RAM you've allocated, plus Virtualbox's overhead.

I tend to find it pretty good, and have gotten away with running my Windows 7 guest OS with as few as 512MB RAM before, and Linux/Windows XP with as little as 256MB. Normally I just allocated 1GB to most OSes though, as having 8GB I don't need to be so worried.

In short, its as frugal, or as heavy as you ask it to be.

If you want to see anything specific let me know and I'll see if I can sort it for you when I have a minute.

olibenu said:

very cool app. runs in one of my workspaces constantly.

sounds and graphics are a problem though

updated mine (i use it on my fedora 13) and i couldn't import usb devices again.

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