OpenSolaris, Sun Web Stack and VirtualBox debut at Devoxx

As Devoxx founder Stephan Janssen told me last week: "Even though you're an evangelist, the committee reviewed your talk and thought it would be of interest". Great, as that was my plan when I put the Developing Beyond localhost talk together. I was pleased to have what looked like a couple hundred folks in the room and lots of questions at the end - all on VirtualBox. I quickly jotted down the ones I could remember:

Can I add network latency?

Not that I'm aware of, at least via a VirtualBox setting. For good measure, I did ask over at the VirtualBox forums.

Can I create an image from an existing OS?

I incorrectly answered yes to this question. There's no official tool from VirtualBox for doing this, but if you Google the topic, you'll find some workarounds.

Can I use VirtualBox in a server environment?

Not that I have any experience with. I see VirtualBox as mostly a desktop visualization solution.  For server provisioning I would recommend Sun's xVM Server.

Can I set up a firewall between the guests and the host?

As long as it's a software firewall, sure, I don't see why not.

Can I run AIX as a guest?

No. VirtualBox only supports guests that can run on x86.

Are there any guest limitations?

A couple, yes. Two that I've noticed is that graphics intensive applications (such as Compiz) don't run very well. Also, there's no way to simulate a wireless network interface. The VirtualBox guest always assumes the interface is wired, even when the host is connected over wireless.

Can I monitor the HTTP traffic between the host and the guests?

Sure. The HTTP Server Monitor in NetBeans is a great choice.

Can I automate VirtualBox?

Yes, there is a command line interface. See chapter 8, VBoxManage in the VirtualBox User Manual for details.

Is MacOS supported as a guest?

No. At least not officially. You may be able to Google for some hacks.

The talk was developed in the open, so the abstract, slides and demo scripts are all available on our wiki.



I have a question, what is being done to help improve the time keeping within the guests? As of right now I am running two FreeBSD virtual machines on top of one OpenSolaris host machine, within VirtualBox using vboxheadless.

The time within the Virtual machine walks by about 30 seconds every minute or so. This is an issue, is there any idea on when this will get fixed? Googling around gave me some possible solutions, however none of them worked.

Looking forward to your reply,

Posted by Bert on December 15, 2008 at 07:41 PM GMT #

On the question of using virtual box on server's it actually works pretty well and you can start up headless virtual machines. You can optionally connect to the virtual screen using an RDP client to administer graphically or you can ssh in like any other server.

The only major limitations are the lack of 64 bit guest support and lack of multi-cpu support.

Posted by Peter Jenkins on December 16, 2008 at 05:18 AM GMT #

Hi Burt,

Have you filed a bug with VirtualBox? You can do so here: . I have found their engineering team to be pretty responsive.


Posted by Brian Leonard on December 16, 2008 at 07:17 AM GMT #

Regarding: Can I use VirtualBox in a server environment? -

There is a nice article in Czech about VirtualBox as a solution for a server:

Best regards,

Posted by Pavol Calfa on December 17, 2008 at 01:55 AM GMT #

The timekeeping issue is common in VMWare environments but I have yet to see it in any of my VirtualBox VMs. Most have to do with the CPU TSC on multicore CPUs so you might look there for some clues that will help.

Posted by Nich on December 17, 2008 at 09:33 AM GMT #

About: Can I create an image from an existing OS?

You can dd an existing drive or partition into a virtualbox disk image by using the VBoxManage utility included with VirtualBox:

VBoxManage convertdd <input> <outfile>

input can be a raw drive or a raw drive image file. Outfile is the vdi. (Virtual Disk Image.

Posted by Alex on January 06, 2009 at 07:17 AM GMT #

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