Hardware-accelerated remote 3D WINDOWS desktops using VirtualGL and VirtualBox

Sun Shared Visualization software gives users the ability to run 3D OpenGL applications on servers with graphics and take advantage of hardware acceleration. To date, one of the biggest limitations is that, while we could let multiple users "share" the resources on a Linux or Solaris server taking advantage of as many cores and GPUs we could put on a system, on Windows, we were stuck with getting acceleration for only one user - the "owner" of the desktop.

Enter the marriage of VirtualGL and VirtualBox. With VirtualBox, of course, one can run several VMs on a system. With the latest VirtualBox, 3D hardware acceleration is enabled. So what if you start a VirtualBox Windows VM remotely on a Linux or Solaris server using VirtualGL from the Shared Visualization software? You get remote access to a Windows desktop that has hardware acceleration for any OpenGL application that you run.

This is what you do:
1. Download the Shared Visualization 1.1.1 software from the Sun Download Center.
2. Install both the VirtualGL and TurboVNC components.
3. Get the latest VirtualBOx
4. Suppose you have a Linux or Solaris x64 server with one or more nVIDIA GPUs. Suppose its name is "3Dserver"
/opt/VirtualGL/bin/vglconnect 3Dserver
5. Launch a TurboVNC server on 3Dserver
/opt/TurboVNC/bin/vncserver
6. Create a Windows VirtualBox VM, remembering to enable 3D hardware acceleration in the General preferences.
Save this as a .vdi file.
7. From ANY remote client, start a TurboVNC viewer connected to the TurboVNC viewer
/opt/TurboVNC/bin vncviewer 3Dserver:N
8. Start the Windows VirtualBox VM using VirtualGL
/opt/VirtualGL/bin/vglrun VirtualBox -startvm {your VM's name or ID}

Et voila! you have a remote Windows desktop with hw acceleration for 3D applications, and you can have more than one!

Comments:

Very cool Linda!
Thom

Posted by Thom Theriault on January 20, 2009 at 11:11 AM PST #

Wow, this is cool. I didn't dare try this one out, I'm impressed it works!

Now I'm just waiting for VirtualBox to support 3D for other OSes and the world would be perfect :).

Thanks,
Constantin

Posted by Constantin Gonzalez on January 20, 2009 at 04:24 PM PST #

[Trackback] Con questa funzionalità è possibile creare delle macchina virtuali su un server che possiede un acceleratore grafico, l'acceleratore sarà condiviso fra tutte le macchine virtuali, che godranno anche della RAM e delle CPU/cores del server. ... Maggior...

Posted by Cinetica Blog on February 08, 2009 at 07:30 PM PST #

Thanks for the info, I've been hoping to do something like this for a while. Do you know if VirtualBox supports quad-buffered (stereoscopic) output? That would be perfect.

Posted by Ben Sutherland on March 31, 2009 at 12:51 PM PDT #

Great thing! Thank you!!!

Posted by KSmith on April 14, 2009 at 04:36 PM PDT #

hii

Posted by anson on May 23, 2009 at 04:38 AM PDT #

Been waiting for virtual 3D support.

Check out this remote 3D graphics performance (GPU rendered, hardware PCoIP display compression). Over long latency, low bandwidth links - including live network demo from New York to London.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuEhGzoo0lQ

Stu

Posted by Stuart Robinson on May 26, 2009 at 10:47 AM PDT #

I noticed from the release of Virtualbox 3 beta that direct X 8/9 is now supported as well. Does that also mean that this should work using visualization suite as well?

Posted by Ryan Lane on June 18, 2009 at 05:21 AM PDT #

Interesting concept - do you have any other recommendations on the 3D server hardware? Also, does this setup work within a SunRay environment - I know VirtualGL is supposed to, but I've missed "gotchas" in the past. thanks!

Posted by Steve on July 25, 2009 at 12:28 PM PDT #

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Linda Fellingham

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