Sun xVM VirtualBox - why buy Parallels or VMWare Fusion?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by ravenvii, Jul 18, 2008.

  1. ravenvii macrumors 604

    ravenvii

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2004
    Location:
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    #1
    I just installed VirtualBox today and installed Windows XP on it.

    And it made me wonder why all the people on here keep talking about Parallels (and to a much lesser extent, VMWare Fusion)? Firstly, Fusion is better than Parallels, so why all the attention for Parallels? And then VirtualBox is free, so why all the attention on Parallels again?

    VirtualBox was a snap to install. I got it up and running in no time, without any configuring, other than creating a virtual machine, assigning RAM to it, and specifying the size. All of this was done within a wizard, so it's a snap.

    After installation, I installed the Guest Additions (drivers), and it ran great. Smoothly, and plays well with the rest of OS X - not much slowdown or anything. Of course there's slight slowdown, as it's eating up a big chunk of my RAM (~600 MB of RAM, I assigned it 512 MB of RAM, plus overhead).

    Seamless works great. Windows runs great. All the software works well.

    The only reason you would pay for VMWare Fusion (or *sigh* Parallels) is if you want DirectX acceleration and if you want to use your Boot Camp partition as a virtual machine. To the first, I say "why?" even with acceleration, it's not any good for gaming, and even the games that runs adequately in a virtual environment will always run much better when booted into Windows. And to the second, each to one's own, but I wouldn't do that, because you know how Windows is with hardware. Changing hardware so drastically from boot to boot tends to mess it up fast.

    So why do people continue to pay for VMWare (and Parallels) when there's a great, free, alternative out there?

    (And yes, those who actually need the acceleration that VMWare/Parallels offers for a reasonable reason ;) like AutoCAD or non-gaming graphics-heavy programs are excused ;))
     
  2. H&Kie macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2004
    #2
    Well, I do use one of the commercial apps (eh, yes, Parallels) and I run AutoCAD and Inventor on it. VirtualBox is too slow overall (but it's still a breeze compared to Virtual PC in earlier days) and I couldn't manage to shut down a virtual machine without having the machine crashing before is was shut down most of the times. USB support isn't to well either at the moment.

    VirtualBox seems to be in a longlasting beta stage. The good thing about it is, that it's constantly developed and, of course, that it's free. And its Linux support is way better than Parallels. So in time I might end up using VirtualBox. Just not at this moment.
     
  3. ravenvii thread starter macrumors 604

    ravenvii

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2004
    Location:
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    #3
    VirtualBox doesn't seem slow to me, but then again the most intensive thing I had it do was scan a PDF document using OCR software. My USB mouse worked perfectly with it, but I haven't tried any other USB devices, so maybe the weak USB support shows up there. Yeah, it does unexpectedly quit every time I shut down a machine, and it's annoying. But for free, I'd be happy to click "Ignore" after shutting down a virtual machine! :)

    It does have a large list of supported Linux distros, which is nice.

    Just curious though, why'd you buy Parallels instead of VMWare Fusion?
     
  4. GilGrissom macrumors 65816

    GilGrissom

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2005
    #4
    I use VirtualBox a lot, even before it was brought out by Sun. It's a fantastic piece of software and best of all its free and open source! :cool:

    I have over a dozen VMs installed onto it ranging from most forms of Unix and Linux to XP, Vista and Server 2003, they all run a dream.

    One problem I do have however is the occasional bug with shared drives, also the networking stacks are sometimes a bit dodgy and don't work properly all the time. I connect most of my VMs together in a virtual network but it doesn't always work, needing me to reboot all the VMs and VirtualBox. But usually when it is that bad I can get it working eventually.

    For most normal single VMs using NAT to get Internet it is never a problem, they seem to put more development and testing into the NAT for VM net access as this is what most people will use.

    I also have used Parallels and VMWare and while these are both polished products, its only really the fancy extras you get with these, such as Unity and better graphics support, which makes them stand out from VirtualBox. If you do not need these features then I highly recommend VirtualBox as it will perform identical to Parallels and VMWare.
     
  5. EspressoLove macrumors 6502

    EspressoLove

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2007
    Location:
    Bay Area
    #5
    It's more Macky :rolleyes: I didn't use them much, nor for heavy lifting.
    But overall Parallels was bit smoother for me :)
    I especially missed ability to suspend VM. on Fusion you have to go to menu and click install tools ..., but don't proceed ... not a rocket science, but still feels ugly after Parallels :p:cool:
     
  6. H&Kie macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2004
    #6
    After running both for the test-period, Parallels seemed to run a bit smoother, especially when running Inventor. And then MacHeist had a nice offer, in which I had to pay about € 35,- instead of € 79,- (retail price). So if I'm honest, the answer should (also) be 'cause is was on discount :D
     
  7. elppa macrumors 68040

    elppa

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2003
    #7
    Probably because it is a bit new and not quite as mature and polished as VMWare.

    Using your BootCamp partition is a big deal for many as well.

    If it continues to improve I'm sure it will get the credit it deserves. The more alternatives we have the better.
     
  8. DaveF macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2007
    Location:
    NoVA
    #8
    There was no VirtualBox when I bought Parallels last summer. Were I buying today, VirtualBox is still useless to me since it can't use my BootCamp partition.

    I need to use BootCamp and I need to use Windows in OS X. Setting up two complete Windows installations is silly, taking twice as much hard drive space. And it creates a new file synchronization problem. I don't understand your comments on BootCamp and "how Windows is with hardware." I'd prefer a single, elegant solution than to double the resource requirements to avoid a non-problem of "changing hardware" from boot to boot.

    But if I didn't use BootCamp, VirtualBox would definitely be worth a look.
     
  9. ayeying macrumors 601

    ayeying

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Location:
    Yay Area, CA
    #9
    As many said, boot camp partition. However, I noticed VirtualBox is extremely faster on my MacBook Air using 256MB ram dedicated to XP then dedicating 512MB ram using VMWare Fusion/Parallels Desktop
     
  10. kockgunner macrumors 68000

    kockgunner

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2007
    Location:
    Vancouver, Canada
    #10
    i too recently discovered virtualbox after trying out the parallels demo which was slow and crashed often and was unsusable due to the constant beachballs. i don't know why people even like parallels after my experience with it. running windows is bad enough but running it with parallels was hell. anyway, virtualbox is my choice now. it sometimes crashes and there are problems with drivers and usb support but overall, it feels more light and streamlined. installing windows to it was very fast and the download for vbox was only 10 mb! i highly recommend it.
     
  11. bigrell486 macrumors 6502

    bigrell486

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2006
    Location:
    Home
    #11
    Last I checked, VirtualBox didn't support raw disk access needed to boot from a separate partition. (i.e. Bootcamp partition)

    Also the Unity feature of VMware Fusion is amazing.
     
  12. DaveF macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2007
    Location:
    NoVA
    #12
    My experience has been positive. It never beachballs. It crashes on occasion, but so does OS X, so I figure Windows in OS X should be given some slack.

    I've not used any other virtualizer, so when I ran Parallels it was like seeing magic. And now that I've got it, and it works, I not about to spend another $80 to buy Fusion and then work through a new install of it and re-verifiying Windows.
     
  13. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    #13
    Thankd for the tip.

    I see many reviews recommend VMWare over Parallels, so using VMWare right now.
     
  14. atlanticza macrumors 6502a

    atlanticza

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    Jul 18, 2008
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    Cape Town
  15. goinskiing macrumors 6502a

    goinskiing

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2008
    Location:
    Meridian, ID
    #15
    Host Kernal on MBP 64 or 32 bit?

    From the Sun site when ready to download xVM VirtualBox 1.6:

    "Please note that the package architecture must fit your host operating system architecture. So if you are running a 32-bit kernel on a 64-bit capable CPU you have to install the 32-bit version (x86/i386). On the other hand you must install the AMD64 version (this is the same as x86_64) if your host kernel is 64-bit!"

    Is Leopard's (the host) kernal 64 bit or 32 bit for the purposes stated above. I am curious because I'm wondering if I should try to run Ubuntu 8.04 64 bit or 32 bit on my 15" Penryn MBP with Leopard as the host.

    Anyone else done this or have any tips, especially with Sun's xVM VirtualBox running Ubuntu?
     
  16. Tigercat212 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2008
    #16
    Sorry to...

    Sorry to bump up this thread, but I just have a few questions before I download Virtualbox for my Blackbook.

    1. The program is completely legal, right?

    2. Does it lag often or is it pretty smooth?

    3. How much memory should I assign to my Windows XP virtual machine?

    4. Are you able to play Windows games on the XP virtual machine?

    5. You do have to have the actual XP install disks to install XP right?
     
  17. goinskiing macrumors 6502a

    goinskiing

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2008
    Location:
    Meridian, ID
    #17
    Answers

    1. Yup, hooray fro Open Source
    2. Well, for my typical XP use, I use fairly simple XP only software that isn't by any means intensive and it runs just fine (hence my reason for using VirtualBox in the first place). So to answer your question, yes it runs quite smooth.
    3. The beauty is that you can change it as you deem necessary when the v machine is off. So start off with 512 and see if that's enough. I personally use 768 and that's perfect for me. If it isn't what you want you can allocate as much/little as you want. Wonderful.
    4. I'm not sure, haven't really tried. You can allocate your VRAM too, so maybe, maybe nt. I don't think it would be a stelar performance, maybe playable, I'l have to try my Warcraft III and check though.
    5. Yes, you need a valid license of the OS. You can install using an image of the OS, just make sure you have a vaid key and you're good to go!

    A note, be sure to download the VirtualBox guest additions, it makes a big difference.
     
  18. goinskiing macrumors 6502a

    goinskiing

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2008
    Location:
    Meridian, ID
    #18
    VirtualBox uses Apple + L

    Same idea.

    No longer beta now :D
     
  19. Tigercat212 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2008
    #19
    Thanks a lot. That was very informative. By the way, what do the VirtualBox guest additions do?
     
  20. goinskiing macrumors 6502a

    goinskiing

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2008
    Location:
    Meridian, ID
    #20
    Dynamic resolution, additional video drivers, something with shared folders if I recall right, and you don't have to "capture" the mouse. Make sure you download the corresponding version. IE You download VB v1.6.4 get the 1.6.4 Guest Additions. Actually, I think you can just go to the VB Menu while running the guest OS and select the "Device" Menu and at the bottom there may be an "Install Guest Additions" or something along those lines. If not, just google it (that's what I did initially anyways). Hope that helps.
     
  21. Tigercat212 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2008
    #21
    Thanks a lot, goinskiing. I'll post any more questions I have in this thread.
     
  22. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604

    SnowLeopard2008

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2008
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #22
    i use the apple alternative to virtualizing, it's called boot camp. you can play games at native speed, install anything you'd like, and of course, its free.
    ^sarcasm is in the air...

    but yea, I'd try virtualbox but i dont have much ram (see my signature) in the first place and my vram is also pretty low too. i'd rather boot from time to time (which is getting longer each time around :D) than to virtual, why make virtual when you can make physical and real? and built in for that matter.
     
  23. goinskiing macrumors 6502a

    goinskiing

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2008
    Location:
    Meridian, ID
    #23
    I have a bootcamp partition as well for Vista Business for my school software to run simulations and the like at native speed. The VM gives me quick access to my quick and dirty xp only programs (gradebook software for the school I teach at) and also for quick access to Office 2007 at school. I also like the shared folder for quick access in both environments. If you have the resources, it's really nice. But yeah, bootcamp is great for native speed, I love it. Each has their own ups/downs. But VirtualBox is great for those who need a simple vm of xp.
     
  24. TSE macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2007
    Location:
    St. Paul, Minnesota
    #24
    As soon as Virtualbox lets me use my Boot Camp partition, I will use it, anyone know if it ever will?
     
  25. Tigercat212 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2008
    #25
    How many virtual machines can you have in Virtualbox?

    How many virtual machines can you have in Virtualbox? Can I have XP and Ubuntu in Virtualbox? Can I open them simultaneously in seperate windows or can you only run 1 virtual machine at a time?
     

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