Virtualbox virtualization open source availability



This last week virtualbox announced that they have released a version of their virtualization software as open source. There is a pay version as well with more features. (*read on for features available in the full version.)

While I appreciate them making the core virtualization open source and currently they are likely the most advanced open source virtualization software out there… it is a bit disappointing to see some of the really juicy features in the non-open source version. However, it should be noted that the full version is free for personal use or evaluation.


They do note that some of these features may find their way to the open source version.

Virtual USB Controllers. VirtualBox implements a virtual USB controller and allows you to connect arbitrary USB devices to your virtual machines without having to install device specific drivers on the host.

(usb 2.0 support)
Remote Desktop Protocol. Unlike any other virtualization software, VirtualBox fully supports the standard Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). A virtual machine can act as an RDP server, allowing you to “run” the virtual machine remotely on some thin client that merely displays the RDP data.

USB over RDP. With this unique feature, a virtual machine that acts as an RDP server can still access arbitrary USB devices that are connected on the RDP client. This way, a powerful server machine can virtualize a lot of thin clients that merely need to display RDP data and have USB devices plugged in.

Shared folders. Like many other virtualization solutions, for easy data exchange between hosts and guests, VirtualBox allows for declaring certain host directories as “shared folders”, which can then be accessed from within virtual machines.

Also, an iscsi initiator is available in the closed source version. I haven’t yet had a chance to give a try out to either but, have made a LOT of use out of virtualization software lately. It’s really quite an exciting prospect to see the open sourcing of this which opens up full virtualization to those that have balked at the non-open nature of vmware or the closed source accelerator for qemu.

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