I will stay with VirtualBox for a bit longer

VMWare, VirtualBox, Xen, KVM, LXC and there are probably several other ways to run virtual machine under Linux.

Years ago I used first one. Then moved to VirtualBox and still use it. But when it comes to rest of list I do not have too much experience. Xen? One of my servers in past was Xen instance. KVM? Maybe used few times to quick boot some ISO image. LXC? never played with.

From time to time I look at tools I use and check for better replacements. When moved to Fedora I decided to try “virt-manager” to move from VirtualBox to QEMU/KVM. Failed. Tried again…

Today, after “playing” with virt-manager in Fedora/rawhide I decided to stay with VirtualBox for longer. It may have some issues but runs my WinXP and Linux instances without any extra problems.

Sorry to say but Virt-manager feels like a tool for its creators only. Error messages which could be in any random language, insisting on using /var/lib/libvirt/images/ for disk images (or do lot of clicks instead) and depending on so many software packages that it will probably take months before someone will finally fix it in rawhide.

And no, I do not want to go to running QEMU/KVM by hand. It is good for booting image to play with. But I need a way to add/remove USB devices in running system. In an easy way.

And yes, I know “report all bugs” mantra…

9 thoughts on “I will stay with VirtualBox for a bit longer

  1. Scott Dowdle

    While virt-manager is a little more clunky than VirtualBox’s interface it is mainly because virt-manager does more. It is design to be network integrated, have storage pools and all of that stuff… which granted… is a little overkill for your run-of-the-mill desktop user. Is it that much harder to use? Not really. Like anything new/different, there is a learning curve, but once you hit the top, the rest is down hill. Explain to me why adding an iso image to a VirtualBox VM is so hard? When you create a new VM in VirtualBox, it doesn’t even ask you for an .iso from which to boot to install your VM. What’s up with that?

    The other thing that makes virt-manager a little harder is that it is configured by default to work with SELinux. The default directory for images is where SELinux has labled the filesystem for images to live. If you want to put images elsewhere, just define a new pool and label it correctly. But then again, I’m guessing you are turning off SELinux rather than learn something new.

    So far as being spread across multiple packages, package granularity is often seen as a good thing… just ask the Debian lovers. :)

    I’m not going to twist your arm and make you use KVM / virt-manager and a long as VirtualBox is gratis and libre who can complain much about it? I do prefer to use the hypervisor that is already in the Linux kernel rather than having to download a third-party one that has to rebuild part of itself every time the kernel changes.

    1. Marcin Juszkiewicz Post author

      I do not disable SELinux. Not even altered configuration of it as I am fine with distro configuration.

      The problem with packaging is that bug is in one place and affects virt-manager in a way which makes it non-working at all. But I will have to probably wait to Fedora 20 release to see someone fixing that problem.

      Adding this or that into any of VM managers? Both are different. I am used to one, you are to another.

  2. Johnny

    You can add another storage location than /var/lib/libvirt/images/. Just open up connection details in virt-manager, and you have a storage configuration option to just add basicly just about any storage config you may need/want.

  3. marietto

    With arm cpu’s you can’t use virtualbox. You are forced to use qemu-kvm. Anyway I would like to start a project to run ubuntu as host os and android as guest os with qemu-kvm on the exynos 5 platform. I haven’t the knowledge to do it by myself,but i can ask all around for some developer who wants to do it and I can start a project on kickstarter or indiegogo…

  4. Kyle

    I use a combination of VirtualBox, Vagrant and LXC.

    For cross platform development (Angstrom/openembbed for ARMv7 mainly) LXC has the best performance because I can install Ubuntu 12.04 LTS or whatever the toolchain depends on and run with it. It’s a glorified chroot for the modern day. And it has less overhead when compared to a VM because it’s a chroot and not running it’s own pseudo hardware and kernel. But, it’s a PITA to setup. Docker.io came out with a fancy wrapper for LXC for things like web apps, but the storage model doesn’t sit well with my use case for things like Angstrom/openembbed builds. LXC needs it’s template model cleaned-up to match something like docker.io’s Dockerfile or vagrant’s Vagrantfile.

    For everything else, including telling clients what to use, Virtualbox is the answer. Much easier to setup and less support required from me.

    I’ve been getting more comfortable with vagrant which is just a command line wrapper for virtualbox. So far vagrant is awesome and you should check it out.

  5. Andrew Stubbs

    If you haven’t tried LXC, you really should. It has more in common with chroot than VirtualBox, but that’s probably what you want, a lot of the time.

    It works very well with Ubuntu guests, and older Fedora guests, but somebody needs to fix it for Fedora newer than 15.

    I need Ubuntu 12.04 for work, but I like to have a bit more freedom with my desktop environment. LXC lets me have the best of both worlds.

  6. rozie

    You used virt-manager, but have you tried AQEMU? I found it when I looked for VirtualBox alternative (had enough problems with kernel modules kompiling, license issues (OSE vs. nonOSE), etc.). It workes OOTB on my Debian, haven’t found major bugs. I’d give a try.

    Virt-manager didn’t run OOTB. TBH didn’t make it run at all. But not tried very hard. ;-)

  7. James

    You might want to look at “boxes”. It’s a libvirt front end which is intended to be more simple, point and click, etc, than virt-manager. Personally I like virsh and virt-manager (if I need a gui) but boxes does exist in case it appeals to you.

    HTH, Cheers

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