Sunday Jun 08, 2008

VirtualBox: 1.6.2 released, JAX-WS interface

1.6.2 released

VirtualBox 1.6.2 now available for download. There are fixes to some critical bugs, and performance work in a few areas; as usual the Changelog has the details. And among those changes, the new improved icon!

vboxicon.jpg

Controlling VirtualBox via JAX-WS

Here's something that really caught our eye. Kohsuke Kawaguchi wrote a very interesting blog entry about how to control VirtualBox via its new web services management interface using JAX-WS. Since all the VirtualBox interfaces are specified in an XML format IDL, many different interface styles are possible, so he wrote a Groovy script to create the Java classes from that IDL. The resulting interface has better type safety and is more natural for Java programmers. You can find the various references to all the code he created - including the Groovy script, and the Javadoc for the API - by following the links in his blog.

Technorati Tag: VirtualBox

Thursday May 22, 2008

VirtualBox 1.6 in the news

Interesting review of VirtualBox 1.6 here.

Another way to see more of what VirtualBox can do is to go to youtube and search for virtual box. People around the world have been sharing their experiences and have posted hundreds of videos of what they've been doing with it. And don't forget to check out the VirtualBox community page, and the particularly the forums .. lots of information there too. And of course you can visit other sites like technorati, digg, stumbleupon and wikipedia to see what people are saying about it.

Technorati Tag: VirtualBox

Monday May 05, 2008

VirtualBox 1.6 at Community One

Hmm. Always wondered if I could write a blog entry "live" from a conference session. Since I'm writing this entry "live", I'll apologise ahead of time for muddling my tenses as I move more into the present tense!

I'm here at community one listening to Joost Pronk and Achim Hasenmueller talking about the latest improvements and coolness in VirtualBox. Achim's team has just released version 1.6, which has an impressive list of features that can be found in the changelog right here.

  • Hey, Jonathan just dropped by to say hello before the talk begins.
  • Now Joost is explaining the context i.e. the different virtualization technologies that Sun offers and where VirtualBox fits in the picture.
  • Next, Achim is introducing the core technology, the history, the design, how it's being used.
  • Christoph Schuba is now doing a demo of Trusted Solaris multi-level security with Windows Vista running in VirtualBox, which is a neat combination of the Zones technology on which Trusted Solaris is based, and the VirtualBox type 2 hypervisor.
  • Oh and Christoph is also running OpenSolaris native on a MacBook - because, as Christoph says, OpenSolaris runs on lots of machines. Very, very, nice demo.
  • Now Achim is walking through configuring and running OpenSolaris on VirtualBox. Oh cool, now he's showing off the latest guest additions for OpenSolaris, which means things like mouse pointer integration and seamless mode now work too.
  • Now we're delving into the architecture a little, and Achim's talking about the new WSDL/SOAP interface to VirtualBox that's a part of 1.6 to allow other management tools to manipulate the hypervisor and its guests. The default graphical UI and the command line UI already use that interface; now the API is available to allow developers to do what they want with it.
  • Achim's also particularly happy about the virtual SATA controller that's new for 1.6
  • VirtualBox now runs on Solaris 10U4 and OpenSolaris too. Some nice integration with zfs and zpools, with integrated iSCSI support. Oh and VirtualBox is Zones aware too, and it can be used simultaneously in multiple zones.
  • Mac support is getting better, but there's still more in the pipeline.

Now the Q&A begins

  • Q: Virtual Machine migration tools?
  • A: Better support for VMDK formats in the pipeline
  • Q: Older hardware?
  • A: Tend to run out of memory if you want to run modern guests! Otherwise, anything that's Pentium III or above works.
  • Q: Compare and contrast with Xen?
  • A: Xen is a type 1, VirtualBox is a type 2, Xen emphasis on paravirtualization, VirtualBox focus on usability.
  • Q: What kind of shared storage for live migration
  • A: No specific restrictions at this point - files, devices, or iSCSI targets

Now some roadmap items that are being worked on

  • Memory ballooning
  • 64-bit guests
  • Live migration
  • 3D virtualization
  • More portable snapshots
  • VMDK support
  • VHD support
  • Nested paging for AMD-V and VT-x
  • Next generation seamless windowing with better desktop integration
  • Paravirtualization using VMI and Windows Enlightenments

You can download VirtualBox 1.6 by following the downloads link from virtualbox.org.

Technorati Tag: VirtualBox

Tuesday Feb 12, 2008

VirtualBox

It's official. We just announced our intent to acquire innotek - a small company in Germany with (a) some very smart people and (b) some very significant technology, called VirtualBox. What is VirtualBox? Well, if you're a hypervisor engineer, then it's best explained as a high performance type 2 hypervisor that uses a combination of virtualization techniques to run many different unmodified operating systems in x86 virtual machines. It's highly portable across multiple hosts and supports a wide range of guest operating systems.

But perhaps that's a bit dry. And you don't need to be a hypervisor engineer to find it extremely useful.

Think of it this way. If you download and install VirtualBox on your laptop - running Windows, MacOS X, Linux or OpenSolaris, you can then run most any other popular Operating System on the same machine. Or several at the same time, depending on what hardware resources are available. The download is around 25Mbytes on most platforms. And what's truly cool about it for developers is that the download is free for personal use, and the code for VirtualBox is GPLv2 open source. So as well as VirtualBox being a cool product and a powerful set of technologies, it's also a community, and a great fit with Sun's broader open source strategies.

We think this tool is incredibly useful for developers - because most developers want to target multiple operating systems to maximise their audience and return on the time they've invested in their applications, and tools like VirtualBox let them do that by running everything - test environments, debug environments, etc. - on a single laptop. How does VirtualBox stack up against the other laptop and desktop options? Well I think it's great, but you don't have to take my word for it - there's a couple of great reviews here and here.

OpenSolaris and VirtualBox

My first conversation with the innotek engineering team was over a year ago. They told me about the work they'd been doing, what VirtualBox was capable of back then, where they were going, and how they'd just made it be an open source project. I was really impressed. And in many ways we've been working on a closer relationship ever since. Things really started to move quickly when we visited them last September. At that time, builds of OpenSolaris had already been working as guests, but after a marathon effort the night before we arrived at their offices, they managed to demonstrate OpenSolaris as a host for VirtualBox - a pretty significant capability for OpenSolaris. I took this screenshot during the first few hours of it working.

IMG_0050.JPG

That's IE running inside in Windows XP in the foreground, displaying the opensolaris.org home page. The next day was even more exciting when they showed me seamless mode - applications running under XP sitting on the OpenSolaris desktop in the image below.

IMG_0052.JPG

Windows Media Player running on the OpenSolaris desktop - whatever next?

For people running OpenSolaris, there's a new beta version of VirtualBox that's just been posted on the virtualbox.org site. Alternatively you can build it from source by following the instructions that Joe Bonasera posted on his blog.

Have fun with it!

Technorati Tag: OpenSolaris
Technorati Tag: VirtualBox

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