Oracle Releases Another New Version of VirtualBox VDI

Oracle's VirtualBox 4.1 includes several new features, but the main one is a new virtual machine cloning facility, which adds a lot more functionality.

Oracle on July 19 cranked out a new version -- its second of this calendar year -- of its popular open-source virtual desktop software package, VirtualBox, to keep up with a growing sector of VDI competitors.
And there are certainly more competitors to face in the market than there were only a few years ago. Those would include Citrix, Hewlett-Packard, VMware, Parallels, Microsoft, MokaFive, Pano Logic, Cisco Systems, nComputing and Wyse.
VirtualBox, a surprisingly full-featured package which has recorded more than 46 million downloads in the last three years since it first was developed by Sun Microsystems, enables desktop or laptop computers to run multiple guest operating systems simultaneously.
A good reason for its popularity is that it is a free download; VirtualBox is a cornerstone of Oracle's enterprise virtual desktop package.
Oracle's VirtualBox 4.1 includes several new features, but the main one is a new virtual machine cloning facility of which Oracle's Wim Coekaerts is particularly proud.
"Right now, when you have a virtual machine running, you create a snapshot, which is a child of the current virtual machine," Coekaerts, who serves as Oracle's Senior Vice President of Linux and Virtualization Engineering, told eWEEK. "But that's not something that can independently grow afterwards. With a clone, you have a new entity that can then have its own life and, subsequently, its own snapshots."
A snapshot is an object and a part of the virtual disk; it's not able to be copied onto any other servers and used in any way. Users don't have any visibility into it, Coekaerts said.
Clones are a completely new virtual disk object, independent units that can have new lives of their own. "From then on, you now have a unit that is like a VM created from scratch, so you can treat it as such," Coekaerts said. This will be good news for IT managers and VDI admins, although it may serve up some new issues when it comes to VM propagation.
VirtualBox 4.1 also features an upgraded user interface "with a lot more workstation-type features," Coekaerts said. Remote access has been improved and there is now expanded platform and application support, he said.
Finally, VirtualBox 4.1 now has support for hosts and guest virtual machines with up to 1TB RAM, as well as scalability for about 1,000 VMs on a single host, Coekaerts said.
Oracle VM VirtualBox supports several host operating systems, including Windows, Mac OS X, Oracle Solaris, Oracle Linux and other Linux distributions.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...