Anyone working with a group of systems that are meant to be used together-for example, for demonstration purposes-will likely find the new file-sharing capability especially handy. It was a snap to move files back and forth between my virtual systems once the shared folders were set up.
However, it would be simpler to share folders if Sun would auto-mount the shared folder. In this version of VirtualBox, mounting the shared folder between my Ubuntu 8.10 host and an OpenSolaris 2008.11 guest was a manual process.
Support for OpenGL and host-based 3D acceleration hardware is now also available to Linux and Solaris guests in this version of VirtualBox. During tests using a Lenovo ThinkPad X300, I was able to run test graphics programs-including glxgears-at 290 frames per second with hardware acceleration enabled, compared with about 90 frames per second without acceleration enabled. (Note: Glxgears is not a benchmarking tool, and frame rates are affected by a wide range of factors. However, the program, running on a test system that was otherwise idle, provides an idea of the increased performance hardware acceleration affords.)
The enhanced graphics performance also means that visual effects eye-candy-such as animations, translucent windows and 3D desktop capabilities-can now be enabled in guests.
During tests, these kinds of effects worked well on my Ubuntu guest systems, but I encountered problems on my OpenSolaris guest system-primarily, impaired screen redrawing. Running the OpenSolaris guest in full-screen mode-where the guest takes over the full resolution of the physical display-did not improve operation.
The configuration of 3D acceleration and a host of other performance features designed to take advantage of any available hardware resources is left for the user to do manually. As these features can adversely affect guest and host performance, this makes sense.
eWEEK Labs Technical Director Cameron Sturdevant can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.