Friday, November 21, 2008

VirtualBox - OS Virtualisation on the Mac

Parallels and VMware Fusion both look like good OS virualisation solutions for the Mac. However, with the the current Aussie dollar, the US$80 licence fee (same price for both of them) is quite expensive, especially if you also need to acquire a license for Windoze as a guest OS.

I stumbled across VirtualBox, which is now owned by Sun. It is touted as:

... the only professional solution that is freely available as Open Source Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL).

This can be a little misleading, as there is a dual licensing model, with various useful features only available in the closed-source version.

The closed-source version is available under a Personal use and evaluation license. The strange, but good thing, is that it seems ok to use this version if you want to install it on your machine at work. From point 6 in the licensing faq:
Also, if you install it on your work PC at some large company, this is still personal use. However, if you are an administrator and want to deploy it to the 500 desktops in your company, this would no longer qualify as personal use.

So on that basis, I installed it on my iMac at work and it was trivial to get a Ubuntu 8.04 Desktop guest VM up and running. The bundled user manual provided instructions on installing the Guest Additions which improved the interaction between host and guest OS.

Now if I could only find a version of Windows XP licensed in a similar manner. :-)

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