If it ain’t broken don’t fix it

Yet another worthless blog… by Uberto Barbini

VirtualBox: the ultimate desktop WM?

Posted by Uberto Barbini on April 21, 2008

I’m not easily impressed by software products, but when I tried VirtualBox I was.

I need a windows enviroment for some graphic applications for my photos, alas there is no viable alternative (=time-effective) to closed products for raw pictures workflow at the moment.

So I decided to install a Virtual Machine running Windows inside my linuxbox (gentoo). I had heard of this VirtualBox and I wanted to try it against my necessity.

It’s also a nice use of that Win license I’m not using since I removed win from the pc.

I tried WMware, Qemu, Parallels before, so I’m not completely new the the concept of VirtualMachine.

VirtualBox is a new player, it’s almost completely open-source but you need the closed (but free for personal use) version if you want usb to work (I do).

I was surprised by it’s responsness, no visible lag in mouse moving, no visible slowdown in desktop graphic (I’m not interested in 3d anyway), only a little slowdown in hd performance. About the latter, maybe I should try to mount directly a partition on VirtualBox instead of the big file approach.

Moreover I’m impressed by the nice interface and about how much user-friendly a VM can be. Powerful as they were, WMware and Qemu are not easy to setup and tune. It took me 20 minutes (plus XP installation time) to setup a complete working enviroment on top of linux.

Actually I had everything but the sharing folder working in 5 minutes, it took to me some google searching to discover that on gentoo I had to merge it with the following use:

use additions emerge virtualbox-bin

and after sharing a host folder (mySharedFolderName) from the gui you need this command (from a Windows shell) to use it:

net use p: \\vboxsvr\mySharedFolderName

Then I defined a new usb rule for my devices and I started working on my trial version of Lightroom on Windows on Linux, without glitches. Amazing!

Btw, looking at the forums, seems that everybody is using VirtualBox to run some Adobe application on Linux… open source alternatives do exist, but they are so inferior from a photographer point of view (even an amatour one) that they’re not worth comparing at all.

One Response to “VirtualBox: the ultimate desktop WM?”

  1. I must say that I find the HD faster than native windows, thanks to linux disk read cache. I’ve your setup (gentoo + virtualbox) but I’ve emerged the non -bin version. I also have lots of ram (1.5G), so it’s safe to run virtualbox + windows + “some windows only server” together with eclipse
    Indeed, it’s a nice product

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