VMWare Player Versus Virtual Box: One Works, The Other Doesn’t

Trying to get a Virtual Machine to work on 64 bit Redhat 5.5?  You may want to read these reviews of Virtual Box, and VMWare Player first.

Virtual Box:

Over many hours over a number of weeks, I struggled to install Virtual Box on 64 bit Redhat 5.5. Please read about these struggles first. It was version:

rpm -qa | grep -i “virtual”

I’ve also installed the extension pack.
4.1.8 r75467

Interestingly, Virtual Box does not have a simple –version or -v flag!  Unlike the majority of commands and RPMs on Linux.

You can see the struggle I had just to install Virtual Box in another post. Four very fundamental things were documented wrong, or not documented at all! Surprise! Finally I got it installed.

Then I tried to create a Windows XP virtual machine. But Virtual Box just didn’t want to work.

Virtual Box has a 296 page user document. I read about all kinds of things to worry about. Connectivity with USB. CD drives. How to transfer the control of the cursor from the VM to the host. And what was written, didn’t make sense. Just what keys was it referring to?

Virtual Box Keyboard Capture Message

Virtual Box Keyboard Capture Message

I tried to create an XP VM. But it wasn’t working.  One initial problem is that Virtual Box wants the Extension Pack to be installed also. This was easy enough to do. Just go to Virtual Box Settings, Extensions, and add the Extension.

Virtual Box Extensions Required

Virtual Box Extensions Required

But you really gotta wonder, why a separate process? If Extensions are pretty much a prerequisite, why not just make them part of the core product?  Hey, it’s not that difficult.

Then I eventually found out that I also needed an XP installation CD. Again not disclosed. Surprise! Why was this not blatantly obvious even before I download Virtual Box?

No matter. I have a number of XP installation CDs. I put on in the drive, and tried to create a VM again.

Virtual Box, Virtual Machine Create Button

Virtual Box, Virtual Machine Create Button

When I hit the Create button, everything hung. I don’t mean that the Virtual Box program hung. I mean the entire Linux Redhat server hung! So badly that when I pinged the server from another machine, I got the message: Request timed out.  I saw a progress bar stuck at 20%.  On the the keyboard, the Caps and scroll lock lights blinked.  Finally I had to pull the plug on the server and reboot.

I’ve worked with Unix and Linux since 1995. And with DOS before that. DOS used to hang frequently, and require a reboot. While Linux can have lots of issues, Linux is pretty stable. In all the time I’ve worked with it, I don’t think that I’ve ever seen Unix or Linux hang.

But Virtual Box managed to hang the entire Linux server! Unbelievable! Just what did they do to accomplish that?


VMWare Player:

Finally I gave up and downloaded VM Player.

The installation was flawless. In contrast to the character based Virtual Box installation, VMWare Player uses a simple and straightforward GUI installation.

vmplayer  –version
VMware Player 4.0.2 build-591240

I was then able to quickly make a Windows XP virtual machine. VM Player has another intuitive and straightforward GUI to create the machine.

VMWare Player Settings

VMWare Player Settings

I put in a CD and installed XP. Just like installing on a bare hard drive, this took a while. After XP installed, I was able to use the Windows XP VM, from within my Linux server. Even browse the internet. Cool.

VMWare Player Running Windows XP Pro Virtual Machine

VMWare Player Running Windows XP Pro Virtual Machine

There have only been a few issues so far with VM Player. One has been with the XP license. While I have used these CDs to install on my Dell machines with never an issue before, now I am getting a message that the license key must be updated within 30 days.

Windows XP Asks for a License Key

Windows XP Asks for a License Key

The other issue has been to make a share drive with the Linux server. I’ve used the GUI. But it is not showing up in the Windows VM.  The VMWare Player manual is only 110 pages long, so hopefully it will be straightforward enough.

One nice thing about VM Player is that there is no need to worry about the keyboard and mouse. When you move from Linux to the XP VM, it’s implicit and automatic. Documentation and pop ups for Virtual Box talk a lot about a control key to toggle between the VM and the host.

Originally I choose Virtual Box because it was from Oracle. And installed it on official the Oracle Redhat 64 bit operating system. But it didn’t install. When I finally got it to install, it then wanted me to install an Extension Pack.  Then it not only would not create the VM, it actually hung the entire Linux server! After many hours of struggle over a number of days, I had nothing to show for it. I was not happy.

VM Player on the other hand, downloaded, installed and created a VM in about two hours. It was intuitively obvious. I didn’t need to read any documentation.  The longest time involved was actually installing the Windows XP software.  A few issues, but I’m confident they will be solved.

It’s such a pleasure when software just installs and works properly! Why doesn’t all software work like that?

2 Responses to VMWare Player Versus Virtual Box: One Works, The Other Doesn’t

  1. Tushar Kant says:

    First off you don’t need the extensions pack. It’s not a pre requisit. As you said you are running a server, servers probably will never need USB emulation, that’s mainly to run things like iTunes and iPod(nothing to do with servers). All you had to do was un-check the option that said “Enable USB Emulation”. Second, did you really not know you needed an installation disc to install an OS?? really man?? Also, once you have installed the guest additions after installing the OS in virtualbox you would get features like mouse pointer integration and shared folders, even 3d acceleration if you installed it in safe mode(don’t really know why?). You can get shared folders either ways using samba, the virtualization software doesn’t really need to support it. Last, as a tip, if you are using RHEL why not use Xen or KVM? They are MUCH MUCH easier to set up(mainly coz they are bundled with the OS). The way I’ve setup windows on my Linux server is by installing it inside KVM and using remote desktop on the work stations. Virtualbox has this web based interface but it’s kinda heavy on the browsers. Then I have samba setup on the server with each user on their seperate directory with quotas(so they don’t hog up all the disk) and the rest is simply handled by the remote desktop. I have Ubuntu 10.04 on the server and am upgrading the workstations to 12.04 but I don’t think there should be much difference. I use virtualbox on my laptop mainly to use my iPod(for which i need USB emulation).

    • rodgersnotes says:

      Thanks for responding.

      Maybe that will help someone else. Perhaps you can make a blog post with screen shots, and show how it’s done.

      If you read my other post,

      you will note that that there were four very Fundamental Problems with the installation docs. Or complete lack thereof. It seems I was one of the first in world to document how to cleanly install Virtual Box on Redhat 64 bit.

      Do also read some of my other posts. You will note that I am demanding that software install cleanly now. ie. XMing vs MobaXterm. Oracle Apps R12. Why Is Your Software Such Crap!?



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