Sun xVM Desktop Runs Windows, Solaris, Linux Concurrently

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-09-11 Print this article Print

Thanks to cool new data management software called xVM VirtualBox, introduced Sept. 10, running four operating systems (Windows, Linux, Solaris and Mac OS X) at the same time--on the same screen--appears to be easy. The "co-opetative" companies that make these operating systems and their corresponding apps have made peace from the old, partisan days of, well, about two years ago.

MENLO PARK, Calif.-When Sun Microsystems, showing off its new Java-based xVM virtual desktop for a group of journalists and analysts Sept. 10, demonstrated an Apple laptop that was running Linux, Solaris and Windows in separate instances on the same screen, people immediately put their coffees down and started taking fervent notes.

What they were seeing for the first time was a single Mac OS X laptop with three other operating systems all on the same screen, in different windows, running their individual applications-all at the same time. 

There seemed to be little or no latency, too. Each OS worked smoothly. These were all lightweight, virtualized instances from faraway servers whose geographic location was irrelevant. The Solaris instance happened to originate in Germany, but it didn't make a shred of difference.

How is this all possible?  Thanks to some cool new data management software called xVM VirtualBox, introduced Sept. 10, it appeared to be easy. The "co-opetition" companies that make these operating systems and their corresponding applications have made peace-ostensibly, anyway-and have decided to bury any digital hatchets left over from the old, partisan days of, well, about two years ago. This new spirit all should have happened long before 2006.

"We introduced Sun's xVM [the 'x' stands for the 'intersection of virtualization and IT'] at OracleWorld last year [2007]," Sun xVM Vice President Steve Wilson told the group. "Since that first v1.0, we have recorded more than 6.5 million downloads.  And v2.0, which we are also announcing today, has much more functionality."

No kidding. The xVM VirtualBox desktop is simple enough "for my grandmother to install and use," Wilson said with a laugh, yet it is able to juggle all the applications noted earlier in this story.

Imagine the benefits this Swiss-army-knife-type hypervisor will bring to software developers, who will now be able to code and test their builds for various OSes-all at the same time! Financial service and Web 2.0 companies, which are always trying to upgrade and rework their applications, will find this interesting, too.

"We imagine that software development will be one of the movers on this," Wilson said.

The open-source xVM package, most of which came to Sun in the February 2008 acquisition of Germany-based Innotech, consists of the Xen-based xVM Server, xVM VDI (virtual desktop), xVM Ops Center 2.0 (management console for all these tools) and surrounding services.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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