Virtual Box 2.2

VirtualBox for Windows is similar in functionality to the VirtualBox Mac version and it's reasonable for systems professionals, but non IT folks won't be happy

Sun Microsystems Virtual Box 2.2
  • Sun Microsystems Virtual Box 2.2
  • Sun Microsystems Virtual Box 2.2
  • Sun Microsystems Virtual Box 2.2
  • Expert Rating

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Pros

  • iSCSI support, VirtualBox-installed drivers worked fine

Cons

  • No drag-and-drop of files between a host and guest VM, poor USB support

Bottom Line

VirtualBox for Windows is similar in functionality to the VirtualBox Mac version and it's reasonable for systems professionals, but non IT folks won't be happy. We were impressed by the seamless mode, but this is a free project, and it needs work.

Would you buy this?

VirtualBox for Windows was comparatively primitive, but had some interesting features. There are some show-stoppers that will prevent most from wanting to use it, however. The first problem is that there's no drag-and-drop of files/folders between a host and guest virtual machines (VM). This forces copies between host and guest through command-line interfaces. Systems professionals may not mind, but the help desk switchboard will light up if civilians try it.

USB support was horrendous. When it worked, it worked OK. Of the upsides, it's possible to run guest VMs in the background, and no matter what they are, they can be accessed via Remote Desktop Protocol. This worked for all the guests we tested. VirtualBox also has 'seamless mode,' which allows the VM to be integrated more into the desktop operating system and hides the guest VM's background for application use.

VirtualBox installed guests without special settings help that's specific to the guest operating system version, and recommends a comparatively low amount of memory (192MB for Windows XP and 384MB for Ubuntu). And although there's no dual-display support in guests, it's possible to run the VM full screen on an external monitor.

And although iSCSI support is not available in the GUI, it is available from the VBoxManage.exe command-line application. This worked well, and we were able to use an iSCSI disk as a boot device and could install a guest VM on it. We could also create guest snapshots, and restore them to XP and Ubuntu.

Running XP guests

XP ran normally, and we had no problems installing it. VirtualBox-installed drivers worked fine, although we had some problems with USB support. As an example, upon the first time connecting a USB device, VirtualBox would install a windows driver, then it would not capture this event and it would say 'not supported.' If we tried to connect the device again, the VM would freeze and we would have to kill all the VirtualBox processes and start again. This happened when the host was Windows Vista or XP.

Bluetooth, Web camera and fingerprint reader weren't recognized at first, but after rebooting the host operating system (after first having tried to connect the Bluetooth to the VM), we were able to get the XP VM to see the Bluetooth module. It was necessary to download the Bluetooth and other drivers for our hardware to make them recognised; then we were able to use them. Unfortunately, when trying to connect to the camera, XP gave an error message about too much USB bandwidth usage and was unable to show a picture. We disconnected other devices and tried again, but it never worked.

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