Virtualization War: VirtualBox Vs VMware

This VirtualBox Vs VMware tutorial includes a comprehensive comparison between the two most popular tools of Virtualization called VirtualBox and VMware:

The term Virtualization is not alien to most people nowadays. Virtualization is a technology that allows the user to create multiple virtual environments using the physical resources of a machine.

It is a technology that creates a simulated environment similar to that of a physical machine which means the virtual environment created is similar to that of a physical machine and has an Operating system, Server, and Storage device.

Virtualization War- Virtual Box Vs VMware

Understanding Virtualization

Let us try to understand the concept of virtualization from the following image.

Virtualization

As we can see in the above image, the hypervisor software connects directly with the physical hardware, allowing you to split a single system into multiple Virtual Machines (VMs) and distribute the machine resources appropriately.

To explain in the simple words, in Virtualization

  1. One hardware or physical resource can create many virtual resources. Or
  2. One virtual resource can be created from one or more hardware.

There are a lot of virtualization tools available in the market. This article will cover, in detail, the comparison between the two most popular tools of Virtualization called VirtualBox and VMware.

Both Virtualbox and VMware work on the concept of a Virtual Machine (VM). VM is a replica of a physical computer and also has an Operating system loaded on it which is called Guest OS.

Let us start by understanding the basics of both VirtualBox and VMware and then we will delve into a detailed comparison of the two.

What Is VirtualBox

VirtualBox can be explained as a virtualization software that enables the user to run multiple Operating systems simultaneously on the same machine. For example, a user can use different versions of Windows (Win7, Win 10) or Linux or any other Operating System on one single machine and also run them at the same time.

VirtualBox is a free virtualization software, which is ready to be used by enterprises and is developed for users of Windows OS. This has been designed by Oracle Corporation. It has been constantly upgraded to meet the performance standards that the industry demands. It is one of the most popular software for virtualization.

The following are benefits of VirtualBox:

  • Cost-effectiveness and increased celerity: Virtualbox provides the user with the ability to make use of virtualization using their home computers. It helps the user to create a depiction of an Operating System, thereby reducing hardware cost and surge productivity and effectiveness.
  • Easy installation and set-up: The installation of a Virtual box is a cakewalk for Techies or people with little or no technological background. It simply includes reading a manual from Oracle and following the instructions. The entire process of installation on a computer with RAM of 2 GB does not take more than 5 minutes.
  • User-friendly interface: The interface of the Virtualbox is simple and user-friendly. The main menu primarily consists of Machine, File, and Help as options and a user can use “Machine” as an option to create the desired Operating System. The next step requires the user to make a choice regarding the type of Operating System and a unique name for the OS.
  • Resourceful: The software has been upgraded to the latest version, where the user is able to scale the display. Here the size of the window can be minimized, yet the user can view everything. VirtualBox also allows the user the feature to cap or limit the CPU and IO time of the virtual machine. This ensures that the resources of the hardware or user’s own machine do not get drained.
  • Personalization: There are various Operating Systems like Linux. Mac and Solaris supported by VirtualBox. The user can choose to create multiple platforms or assemble on one server, which can be used for the purpose of testing and development.

Website: VirtualBox

What Is VMware

VMware is one of the world-renowned service providers for Virtualization. VM refers to Virtual Machines. VMware Server is a product that allows the user to compartmentalize a server into many virtual machines, thereby letting multiple operating systems and applications run successfully and simultaneously on one host machine.

Virtualization products from VMware have increasingly become an indispensable part of the IT infrastructure of all organizations- big or small.

VMware also provides a bundle of benefits. These are as follows:

  • Increased efficiency: The resources of a physical computer are not always put to optimum utilization. Some users do not prefer to run multiple applications on a single server OS as the damage to one application can have a ripple effect on other applications making the OS unsteady. If one was to solve this problem by running each application in its own server, a lot of wastage of resource of the physical machine will take place. The optimum solution for this issue is VMware. It allows each application to run in its own OS on one server of the physical machine.
  • Optimum Utilization of space in data centers: When more applications run on the same or fewer number of servers, the cost of managing space at data centers also considerably reduces.

Website: VMware

Virtualization War: VirtualBox Or VMware

All this while we have been talking about Virtualization and we looked at how both VirtualBox and VMware allow the user to work on Virtual Machine.

So, are they all the same? Which one should we select to use? How are they different?

Before we answer this question and understand the differences between VMware vs VirtualBox, it is important to understand that despite the similarity of working on Virtual Machines, the way they work is very different. This is because of the software called Hypervisor, which is used to install and run Virtual Machines.

VMWare vs VirtualBox

Hypervisor is an important software as it provides the environment required to run Virtual Machines. They are responsible to create the much-required separation between the Operating system of the virtual machine and the hardware of the host machine. The host machine is capable of sharing its resources like memory, a processor with many virtual machines.

The Hypervisor can be of two types:

  • Type 1 Hypervisor: This Hypervisor does not need any additional software for the process of installation and directly works on the hardware resources of the host machine. Example- VMware ESXi, vSphere.

Type 1 Hypervisor

Type 1 Hypervisor

  • Type 2 Hypervisor: This Hypervisor is also called a Hosted Hypervisor and is installed on the Operating System of the host machine. The installation process is as simple as that of any other software. Unlike Type 1 Hypervisors, Host Hypervisors do not directly access the hardware and resources of the physical machine.

Type 2 Hypervisor

Type 2 Hypervisor

VirtualBox Vs VMware

Let’s look at some differences that give these tools an edge over the other.

Point of DifferenceVirtualBoxVMware
Durability of the environment·Can be slow in production or testing environment. ·Swift in utilizing the resources of the host machine.
User Friendly and time saver·Simple and user friendly interface. ·Slightly complicated user interface when compared to VirtualBox.
·Simple process of set up and running virtual machines.
·The process of set up is more convenient and easy to follow.
·Quick installation process of OS like Windows, Linux. Required details- license key of OS. Process of Client addition is automated.
Target Audience·Suitable for developers, testers, students and home use. ·Can be complicated if end user is not a system engineer.
Price·Product versions are free and can be easily procured under the GNUv2 license. ·Most product versions are paid. Free versions have limited functionalities. VMware Workstation or VMware Fusion are the high end products which include all features of virtualization attract a cost ranging from $160-$250.
Performance·The pass mark for VirtualBox in the graphic performance was 395 for 2D graphics and 598 for 3D graphics.
·Provided added advantage of Para virtualization.
·The user is able to directly take actions on the host machine.
·The pass mark score on performance test 8.0 is between 1270 and 1460 depends on the para virtualization (mode used). This offers benefits of time keeping.
·New features added -USB 3.0 support, allows the guest to access and operate the USB 3.0 device which is attached to the host.
·CPU score for Virtual Box is in the range of 4500-5500 and this also depends on the para virtualization mode used.
·Leads the market in terms of performance especially for Graphic User Interface. The pass mark score for 2D graphics was 683 and for 3D graphics it was 1030.
·The USB 3.0 feature has been supported by VMware Workstation from the time its version 9 was launched.
·CPU score for Workstation 11 is 6774.
Integration·Supports a wide range of virtual disk formats like VMDK- used when we create a new virtual machine.
·Some other tools like Microsoft’s VHD, HDD and QED allows the user to create different types of virtual machines.
·The users also have access to integration tools like Vagrant and Docker.
·Not known to have integrated with any cloud based product for virtualization.
·Additional conversion utility needed for allowing the user to try other types of virtual machines.
·VMware Workstation integrated with VMware vSphere and Cloud Air.
Hypervisor·VirtualBox is Type 2 Hypervisor.·Some products of VMware like VMware Player, VMware Workstation and VMware Fusion are also Type 2 Hypervisor.
·VMware ESXi is an example of Type 1 hypervisor directly works on the hardware resources of the host machine.
Licensing·Available to general public under the license name- GPLv2. It is available free of cost.
·Another version called VirtualBox Extension which is a comprehensive pack includes additional features like Virtual Box RDP, PXE Boot. Also available for free if used for personal or educational use, commercial use needs an enterprise license.
·Products like VMware Player are available free of cost if the usage is personal or for educational purposes.
·Other products like VMware Workstation or VMware Pro (for MAC users) offer a free trial period and attract a cost license and usage.
Hardware and Software Virtualization·Hardware and Software virtualization both are supported.
·Hardware virtualization needs features like Intel VT-x Or AMD-VCPU.
·Hardware Virtualization is supported.
Host Operating System Support·Available on wide range of OS like Windows, Mac Linux and Solaris.
·Wide scope of supporting various OS.
·Products are limited in terms of OS on which they can be installed. For example- VMware Workstation and VMware player are available on Windows as well as Linux OS and VMware Fusion is available on Mac.
·The scope of supporting OS is narrow.
Support for guest OS·Supports guest OS on the virtual machine. The list includes- Windows, Linux, Solaris and Mac. ·VMware also supports OS like Windows, Linux, Solaris and Mac.
·Mac OS is supported only on VMware Fusion.
User Interface·Graphical User Interface (GLI) is available as a feature.
·Command Line Interface (CLI) is another strong feature supported by VBoxManage.
·CLI allows the user to access even those features of virtualization which could not be accessed through the GUI.
·GUI and CLI are both powerful features available on VMware Workstation.
·Extremely powerful and useful feature when managing virtual machines which also include guest OS.
Shared Folders·Paves the smooth exchange of files between the host OS and guest OS. Exchange happens through a network.
·Adds benefit of user friendliness as manually creating a shared folder can be time consuming.
·Shared folders feature is available in VirtualBox.
·VMware products like VMware Workstation, VMware Player and VMware Fusion have the feature of Shared folders.
·Not available for Virtual machines using ESXi host and shared folders have to be created manually.
USB devices support·Allows the user to connect a USB to the host machine and connect with the virtual machine.
·User can connect USB device to virtual machine using a closed source extension pack.
·Supports USB device support on almost all platforms like VMware Player, VMware Workstation and VMware Fusion but provides it out of the box.
3D Graphics Support·3D graphic support provided by VirtualBox is limited and requires 3D acceleration support on the virtual machine. ·3D graphic support for VMware is better than that of VirtualBox.
·It is a part of the default settings for VMware Workstation.
Drive Encryption·Drive encryption happens on its own using the CLI or in GUI. It uses its own algorithms AES 128 or AES 256. ·Disk encryption can be decided by user after the virtual machine has been encrypted and policies for encryption can be set.
·Virtual machines can be encrypted using the VSphere Client.
·VMware VSphere virtual machine encryption is a feature added to VSphere 6.5.
·Virtual Machine encryption is available for all VMware products except for VMware Player but virtual machines which are already encrypted can be played using a commercial license for VMware Player.
Drag and Drop support·Drag and Drop smoothens the process of moving files and folders between the guest and host.·VMware Workstation had this feature of drag and drop support added long time ago.
Support for Host Hardware·Additional features like support for touch screen in its 4.3 version but is yet to make a mark for supporting mobile hardware. ·VMware Workstation 10 extended support to orientation sensors. This proved to be very helpful for the process of testing applications.
Virtual Machine Snapshots·Supports Snapshots for Virtual Machines.
·Immensely beneficial especially when an application needs to be tested.
·It allows the user to return the Virtual Machine to any of the snapshots and restore the state of the virtual machine.
·VMware also supports Snapshots as a feature is also supported for most of the product range except for VMware Player.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions about VirtualBox and VMware.

Q #1) Does VirtualBox slow down the user’s computer?

Answer: Much to our surprise, the answer to this question is Yes. When we use Virtual Box, it along with the guest OS consumes resources like CPU usage and memory of the host physical machine and it, in turn, slows down the performance of the physical machine. But the good news is that we can limit the usage of these resources by Virtual Box.

  • One of the solutions to this problem is to increase the minimum speed of the processor. This has shown considerably great results in dealing with the slow speed of the host machine.
  • The other option is to change the settings for the power plan which is selected. It is important to make sure that while running Virtual Box, the power plan chosen is high instead of the optimal power plan.

Q #2) Is Virtual Box legal?

Answer: VirtualBox is a popular software developed by Oracle and is widely used in the IT infrastructures of modern-day organizations. Virtual Box is certainly legal, but it comes with clearly run disclaimers.

These include:

  • A user needs to ensure to have a valid license for a Virtual box as a software. This is similar to how most other software is licensed. VirtualBox has been licensed under GPLv2.
  • A user also needs to procure a license to install and use a particular Operating system on the virtual machine. Most of these programs software has clearly laid guidelines to consider a physical machine and a virtual machine as separate despite being used on the same hardware.

Q #3) Is VMware faster than VirtualBox?

Answer: Some users have claimed that they find VMware to be faster as compared to VirtualBox. Actually, both VirtualBox and VMware consume a lot of resources of the host machine. Therefore, the physical or hardware capabilities of the host machine are, to a great extent, a deciding factor when virtual machines are run.

Q #4) Which Virtual Machine is the best?

Answer: It is certainly not easy to conclusively say which machine is the best. Both VirtualBox and VMware have their share of advantages and disadvantages. Users can make a choice based on preferences, existing infrastructural setup, and application.

  • While VirtualBox offers cost benefits (it is available for free with an open-source license), it has also added various features like paravirtualization, which makes it a tough competitor for VMware Workstation. Virtual box is suitable for users who are not sure which OS they will be using, as its support is widely available on major OS like Windows, Linux, and Solaris.

Q #5) What is better than VirtualBox?

Answer: In terms of competition, VirtualBox has faced tough competition from VMware Player which is a free version. VMware Player has proven to provide users with a robust, secure, and far more stable environment for virtualization. VMware works on major OSs like Windows and Linux.

Conclusion

It is indeed a tough choice to make between VirtualBox vs VMware and what helps best to make this choice is usage and preference. If the virtual machine is not needed to fulfill the virtualization needs of an organizational setup, a Virtualbox is the choice to make. It is free, easy to install, and requires lesser resources.

VMware remains the first choice for organizations that have an existing VMware set up and can fund the cost of license and support and prefer a seamless performance.

VirtualBox and VMware both are promising solutions for virtualization. The choice is for the users to make based on the evaluation of the pros and cons of each of these options and taking into consideration the existing infrastructure and end-use.

We hope the article helps you make a viable choice.