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Virtualization Education Operating Systems Windows IT Linux

Ask Slashdot: Which Virtual Machine Software For a Beginner? 361

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-the-holodeck dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I am getting ready to start learning the use of virtual machines. What VM software would you recommend? This is for personal use. It would be good to run both Windows VMs and Linux VMs. Early use would be maintaining multiple Windows installs using only one desktop computer with plenty of cores and memory. I would be starting with a Windows host, but probably later switching to a Linux host after I learn more about it. Free is good, but reliability and ease of use are better. What is your preferred choice for a VM beginner? VMware? Xen? VirtualBox? Something else?" It may also be helpful if you can recommend particular VM software for particular uses, or provide some insight on different hosting options.
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Ask Slashdot: Which Virtual Machine Software For a Beginner?

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  • Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2012 @07:30PM (#41937275)

    Try them all. Dedicate a day or so to each one with the goal of having a fully working linux vm and a fully working windows vm at the end of the day. Then you'll be able to write a slashvertisement about what you've learned and we'll all be better off. Take lots of pictures.

  • VirtualBox (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nexion (1064) on Friday November 09, 2012 @07:33PM (#41937301)

    I prefer VirtualBox myself, but also use VMware at work. I also recommend that you try them all. It's not a question of what is best for us, but rather what is best for you.

  • by bsharitt (580506) <brandon@@@sharitt...com> on Friday November 09, 2012 @07:34PM (#41937329) Homepage Journal

    Since you may be going cross platform at the host, either VMware or VirtualBox are good options. I've personally been using VirtualBox for a while and find it quite easy to use and being free is a nice perk too. Though I understand VMware Player(the free version of VMware) has grown in a a decent general purpose VM solution for simple desktop virtualization like it sounds like you'll be doing.

  • Re:What the fuck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2012 @08:04PM (#41937621)

    Can you not think?

    Ya, that's what I tell anyone that asks me anything. There was a time when you could count on experts helping out to save you some time or to get you started on a complicated area that you weren't familar with. In fact, there use to be computer clubs where information was shared. I guess that time is gone.

  • by sootman (158191) on Friday November 09, 2012 @08:14PM (#41937719) Homepage Journal

    ... if the option is even halfway decent. In this case, start with Virtual Box. It runs, and runs inside, all major platforms. If you have a Linux ISO or Windows CD you can go from zero to a working VM in about 30 minutes. There's nearly no learning curve to get your first VM up and running, and IF it doesn't fit your needs, you can start looking to see if it has options that you aren't aware of, followed by looking at alternatives.

    That said, VirtualBox has fit my needs (mainly testing) just fine for years. VM software is like word processors: they're all pretty comparable and 90% of people's needs can be met by any one of them.

  • by raymorris (2726007) on Friday November 09, 2012 @08:15PM (#41937737)
    If the OP knew a lot about circulation, he could look at different hypervisors and interfaces and make an informed choice. Since he's not real familiar with topic, he would only be judging which has the best sales pitch. He's trying to decide which one to learn on. Since he doesn't understand rhe field well enough to make informed judgement, asking those who DO is smart. It's a very good question. I bet you're the arrogant fool exec who chose IIS as the proxy server based on "feature lists" rather than asking the geeks who actually know about such things.
  • Re:What the fuck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anotheregomaniac (1439993) on Friday November 09, 2012 @08:18PM (#41937791)
    It has to compete with Reddit.
  • Re:What the fuck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Iamthecheese (1264298) on Friday November 09, 2012 @08:41PM (#41938071)
    I'm sick of advanced users ganging up to disdain anyone who asks a question they could learn the answer to if they would only read a 500 page manual or three, It's an ugly canker on the face of geek culture.
  • Re:What the fuck (Score:2, Insightful)

    by causality (777677) on Friday November 09, 2012 @08:42PM (#41938077)

    Why is parent modded at -1? Seriously, just look around and play with them wtf?

    Acting helpless is the new(er) status symbol. Handholding you didn't need makes a statement. It says you deserve to be served - you have people for that. Of course intellectual laziness is also a popular development, which oddly seems to get worse and worse as information becomes more and more instantly available.

    The vitriol that comes out of some people when you dare to suggest that they can handle something independently is amazing. "Hey, you're bright enough and resourceful enough to do this all by yourself" is a compliment. Not reinforcing someone's codependency is a good thing. The anger and vitriol, then, requires an explanation. The anger comes from not paying tribute, not agreeing with the sense of entitlement.

    Not encouraging such a character weakness makes you a bad person, somehow. You'll be told how smug and elitist you are, etc. All of the negative feedback is designed to make you cave and pay tribute anyway. After all, you didn't go along with their self-importance so you must be punished. As though someone who says "I am capable of this, and so are you" is being elitist! It's actually an egalitarian position.

    This paragraph is for the small-minded who invent things to rail against that were not said. Obviously, if someone makes a sincere effort and gets stumped that's different. That happens to everyone sometimes. But this does not require any complex skill or specialized knowledge. Basic literacy and a few minutes are the only resources this person would need in order to answer his own question. He demonstrated both just by asking the question, so we know he has them. Wanting help for that is a highly indirect (thus deniable) way of saying his time is more valuable than yours or mine.

    Once you know yourself well enough to see (and thus, stop) these petty ego mechanisms within your own psychology, you will start to see them everywhere in others as well. The horrifying part is how universally accepted and unquestioned it is. It doesn't take very much introspection or contemplation to understand these things. What it does take is some kind of inner life to balance out the constant hectic worry about externals like work, bills, the economy, politics, and this-and-that. Otherwise there is no basis for comparison.

    The annoying part is that everything I said above is straightforward ... and someone's self-importance will be offended by it. Perhaps they will twist what I said to insult me in some manner, or act like I've done something horriby evil by pointing this out. That would be most boring and unsurprising.

  • Re:Really. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by couchslug (175151) on Friday November 09, 2012 @08:58PM (#41938273)

    "Software preference" clearly falls under "politics/religion"!

  • Re:What the fuck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wisty (1335733) on Friday November 09, 2012 @09:16PM (#41938435)

    There's two reasons newbies might need help - the documentation is not up to scratch (or not newbie friendly), or it's a hard problem with no real solution.

    "What VM" is, I think, the second case. Postgres and MySQL are both fine databases, but have different strengths. SQL and No-SQL both have merits. KDE and Gnome are both fine desktop managers. VIM and emacs can both edit text.

    Sure, there's differentiation, but there's no easy way to say which is best. My advice would be to just look for the one with the best documentation, because as a newbie that's your biggest problem.

  • Re:What the fuck (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2012 @09:22PM (#41938483)
    If you had bothered to read, you would have known he's not asking for a detailed guide on how to get each flavor of VM up and running; he was asking which one an expert would recommend to a beginner.
  • Re:What the fuck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2012 @09:33PM (#41938561)

    Thank you!

    Not all of us live in our mother's basement and have unlimited time. Some of us know that even if we were to devote the equivalent of a week of work worth of time that we may not notice subtle differences that might come back to bite us months after we have committed to one system and then require another week of work to convert everything over to try some other system. Some of us remember a time when the internet was for helping newbies (while sometimes asking them to RTFM) rather than berate them.

  • Re:What the fuck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2012 @09:41PM (#41938643)

    The vitriol that comes out of some people when you dare to suggest that they can handle something independently is amazing.

    It's not so much offense at the thought that they can handle something, it's usually offense at the tone used. "Can you not think?" isn't a suggestion that the questioner can handle something independently - it's a blatant insult. As is insinuating that the reason they're asking the question is that they want to put the people they are asking the question to into a subservient position.

    You'll be told how smug and elitist you are

    "Have you tried Google? Usually it's very good for these sorts of questions." - Telling someone they're competent enough to handle things on their own.
    "What kind of fucking moron are you? You're a worthless, conceited human being. Don't waste my precious time." - Smug and elitist

    It's really quite an easy difference to pick out, if you're looking for it.

    Basic literacy and a few minutes are the only resources this person would need in order to answer his own question.

    No, not even close. He's looking for advice for which virtualization software to try. How many different packages are there? How long would it take to read through the manual for each? How long to install each, and give them a decent run through? It's going to be more than "a few minutes".

    And that's ignoring the fact that there's likely to be "gotchas" that are going to pop up with advanced usage. How long will it take to learn that program X has architecture issues that only crop up under condition Y? There's also other issues that wouldn't come up in a brief perusal of marketing literature/manual: Is the company going into bankruptcy? Is there a bias against the platform (for whatever reason) in the industry? Is there some kickass new program that somehow escaped the questioner's notice?

    Prove me wrong. Point to one or more Google searches (using only the terms in his post or similar - remember he's new at virtualization, so he doesn't know all the jargon), or one or more web pages or manual easily found from the information in the post (e.g. the VirtualBox homepage is fine, but don't assume he knows about expert blogger X who's unknown outside the field) which will tell him what he needs to know, at the quality one would likely expect from asking a site of experts. That is, the pages should give a good, relatively unbiased evaluation and comparison of of various virtualization software packages, focusing on the questions of reliability and ease of use. It should also point out potential gotchas and the features he should be looking into but might not be. And remember that you specified "a few minutes" - all of this information should be readable in less than half an hour.

    The annoying part is that everything I said above is straightforward ... and someone's self-importance will be offended by it.

    Ironically, I'm most offended by the smug self-importance that infuses your post. "I've got things figured out, and you're horribly misguided. I'm living a decent life, while you are intellectually lazy, entitled, and lacking introspection." - it might not be the tone you intended, but it's the tone that comes across.

    Perhaps they will twist what I said to insult me in some manner ... That would be most boring and unsurprising

    So to keep from boring you, I'm supposed to point out why what you said was wrong, without actually pointing out what was wrong about what you said ... while such a post would be very interesting, I'm sorry I must disappoint you. (By the way, great job of trying to poisoning the well for replies. Well, great rhetorically, though not so great for honest discourse.)

  • Re:What the fuck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by symbolset (646467) * on Friday November 09, 2012 @09:42PM (#41938657) Journal

    Sometimes a smart person will ask a simple question, not because he needs the answer but because he feels the discussion will be instructive to others, or yield useful new insight. /. being a herd of nerd there will be many and apposite solutions and viewpoints offered. This is a legitimate Ask Slashdot question and should come up every year.

    Having praised the question I probably should give an answer: "yes".

    And since I've been accused of being cryptically terse here recently I should expand on that. All the major virtual machine platforms are free. A learner who wants to understand the relative merits can and should try them all, read, ask and participate in online discussions about them. Learn about the numerous available virtual appliances free and commercial as well. In the current environment VM proficiency is a basic systems admin requirement.

  • Randroid Alert (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2012 @09:52PM (#41938727)

    Can I update your quote to someone that is less of a crazy sociopath?

    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." - Philip K. Dick

    Ayn Rand is the person you quote when you only want other people who are off their meds to listen to you.

  • Re:What the fuck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RabidTimmy (1415817) on Friday November 09, 2012 @10:03PM (#41938809)
    By that logic, we should require everyone to derive Calculus from scratch, because "Hey, Newton had to do it on his own." The reason we are where we are today is because people passing on what they learned before decreasing the amount of time for the next person to learn the same concepts.
  • Re:What the fuck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SomePgmr (2021234) on Friday November 09, 2012 @10:19PM (#41938951) Homepage

    I think that's actually a fair answer to the original question, so for something a little more challenging, let's change the tone.

    You'd like to start getting familiar with the use of hypervisors and virtual machines, from vocabulary up to practical application. You're a hands on kind of guy, but good, accompanying reference material would be useful too.

    At first this will be for personal use, but with an eye towards understanding their use in a business environment at the SMB level. Keep in mind, since you're starting out at home on your own equipment, doing this out of pocket, cost is a concern, so we probably aren't looking for a 5-digit pricetag on a commercial solution.

    Now, what would you recommend?

  • Re:What the fuck (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jelizondo (183861) <jerry.elizondo@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Saturday November 10, 2012 @12:45AM (#41939839)

    I think the first post seriously contaminated the discussion.

    I, for one, but have loved to read the opinion of people actually using such software and their experience with it.

    I have no need for VM, but I think the opinion of those using it, in many different settings, is much more valuable that any wiki entry or manual.

    Perhaps your time would have better spent giving us some information instead of a rant?

  • Re:What the fuck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by icebike (68054) * on Saturday November 10, 2012 @01:20AM (#41939981)

    Acting helpless is the new(er) status symbol. Handholding you didn't need makes a statement. It says you deserve to be served - you have people for that. Of course intellectual laziness is also a popular development, which oddly seems to get worse and worse as information becomes more and more instantly available.

    Look, the guy asked:

    "I am getting ready to start learning the use of virtual machines. What VM software would you recommend?"

    You then dump on him with a great deal of pontification simply because he asked for opinions. What the hell is wrong with you?

    What, pray tell, is the purpose of education if each person has to find out everything by themselves, and no one can take advantage of the collective wisdom of society, and the accumulated learning built up over history?

    Is each child destined to be run over by the first car they see, or burned by the first fire, cut by the first knife they encounter simply because asking for advise, and by extension, giving any, is somehow a shameful act?

    Asking questions and collecting opinions is how humans learn. Since you apparently woke up one morning and found yourself an infant laying in the weeds, and proceeded to educate, cloth, feed, and raise yourself alone, with no help from society, I'm left with one question: What species are you?

  • by BLKMGK (34057) <morejunk4meNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Saturday November 10, 2012 @02:09AM (#41940159) Homepage Journal

    They have VMplayer and now it allows you to create new VMs not just use appliances without jumping through hoops. It works well but no snapshots I don't think, you can obviously copy a VM manually. Workstation is good though if working with ESX as I swear you need an array of tools to get stuff to convert on it. Yeah I know about the standalone converter...

  • Re:What the fuck (Score:1, Insightful)

    by redmid17 (1217076) on Saturday November 10, 2012 @04:58AM (#41940797)
    I'm pretty sure every generation has said the same god damn thing for the last ten thousand years, and I don't think it holds any merit.

It is wrong always, everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. - W. K. Clifford, British philosopher, circa 1876

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